Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Jun 2022

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Norway Was a Pandemic Success. Then It Spent Two Years Studying Its Failures.

If you could have flown anywhere in the world in 2019 to ride out a hypothetical pandemic, you probably wouldn’t have picked Norway. In fact, when a group of distinguished health experts gathered that year to rank hundreds of countries based on their pandemic readiness, they put Norway in 16th place. They were quickly proven wrong. It turned out that few places outperformed expectations more than Norway. Not long ago, the World Health Organization published mortality stats from the past two years, which showed that nearly every country’s excess death count spiked during the pandemic. Norway’s barely moved. The Norwegians had pulled off the closest thing possible to an optimal response to the most vexing problems that Covid-19 presented. So how did they do it? As it happens, the Norwegians also wanted to know.
30th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Video: The Dance School Lifting Up Kenya's Lost Girls of Covid

On this episode of “The Pay Check,” Bloomberg Digital Originals explores how closed schools and economic hardship created a crisis for young women and girls in Kenya, and how an after-school program in Nairobi’s biggest informal settlement is creating a safe haven for some of them.
30th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

China's easing COVID curbs spark travel inquiry surge, and caution

Online searches for Chinese airline tickets on domestic and international routes surged on Wednesday, after Beijing said it would slash COVID-19 quarantine requirements and made changes to a state-mandated mobile app used for local travel. The unexpected moves mark a significant easing of rigid curbs that have severely curtailed travel and battered China's economy, although tough measures remain in place including a scarcity of international flights, and many social media users voiced caution.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Widespread relief for Shanghai's restaurant sector as dine-in resumes

Restaurants and eateries in China's largest city Shanghai begun reopening their doors to diners on Wednesday, bringing widespread relief to an industry that was badly hit by the city's two month COVID-19 lockdown. Large chains such as hot pot brand Haidilao, fine dining establishments and family owned eateries had started scrubbing tableware and getting uniforms laundered since Saturday when authorities announced the curbs were lifting, a month after the city's lockdown eased on June 1.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

COVID can't break South Africa's love affair with shopping malls

With two days to go until opening to the public, workers rush to put the finishing touches on the Kwena Square shopping complex, a shiny $13 million sign that South Africans are defying the global "retail apocalypse". Not even COVID-19 could separate them from their beloved malls. "I love going to the mall with my daughter and my grandkids," said 54-year-old Kowie Erasmus, who's eagerly awaiting Friday's grand opening of Johannesburg's Kwena Square, which broke ground at the height of the pandemic.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

The Best and Worst Places to Be as World Enters Next Covid Phase

Since November 2020, Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking has tracked the best and worst places to be during the pandemic, using a range of datapoints to capture a monthly snapshot of how the world’s biggest economies were handling this once-in-a-generation health crisis. Twenty editions in, the virus has become something most countries are living with. After nearly two years of fluctuation—during which the top and bottom of the Ranking shifted as the pandemic shape-changed—places have largely settled into their permanent positions, drawing the project to a natural close. June, 2022 will be our last update. In a reflection of how far we’ve come since the coronavirus first emerged in central China, this month’s top ranked are those most effectively putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror, with the fewest scars. They’ve been able to reopen their borders and economies without a substantial spike in deaths.
29th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Scores of Glastonbury revellers test positive for COVID as experts warn of fifth wave

A number of Glastonbury Festival revellers have reported testing positive for COVID-19 in the days after the music event. An estimated 200,000 music fans flocked to Worthy Farm in east Somerset for the 37th iteration of Glastonbury last week. Crowds gathered to watch headliners Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar along with scores of other artists for the world's biggest outdoor festival. Following three years of cancellations due to COVID restrictions, tens of thousands of music fans did not hold back as they soaked up their favourite artists, shoulder to shoulder with other fans. But the fun was soon over after many revellers took to Twitter to report bringing COVID-19 home with them.
29th Jun 2022 - Sky News

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Jun 2022

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Covid: 'Significantly' fewer primary pupils to be vaccinated

There has been a significant increase in the proportion of primary school parents who say they are “unlikely” to have their child vaccinated for Covid-19, a new survey has found. The figures have been published as experts warn the UK is experiencing a “fifth wave” of Covid, as infection rates climb, driven by new variants of Omicron. The latest data from the School Infection Survey (SIS) shows that the proportion of primary school pupils who were not vaccinated and whose parents said they were “unlikely” to agree to their child being vaccinated in future has risen from 24 per cent in December 2021 to 36 per cent in March 2022.
28th Jun 2022 - TES

In 1st year of pandemic, COVID vaccines saved 20M lives

Based on official data on COVID-19 deaths, the authors estimated that vaccinations prevented 14.4 million deaths in 185 countries and territories during the one-year study duration. Based on excess mortality estimates, they observed that vaccinations halved the potential global death toll and averted around 19.8 million deaths in a year. The latter represents the true extent of the first year of the pandemic, showing a global reduction of 63% in total deaths due to vaccination.
28th Jun 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Majority of secondary school children have Covid-19 antibodies, says new data

Nearly all secondary school-age children have Covid-19 antibodies, according to new data. Data from the School Infection Survey, which was released on Monday, revealed that numbers of primary school parents who would be "unlikely" to vaccinate their children has increased. The news comes as levels of Covid continue to rise in the UK, with new cases likely due to variants of the Omicron strain. In the last week, an estimated 1.7million people are reported to have had the virus, up 23% from 1.4 million the previous week.
28th Jun 2022 - Daily Record

Shanghai's Disneyland theme park to re-open on Thursday

The Walt Disney Co's Shanghai Disney Resort said on Tuesday it would reopen the Disneyland theme park on June 30, a month after the Chinese economic hub lifted a two month-long COVID-19 lockdown. The theme park has been shut since March 21, when the resort closed its doors amid an uptick of cases in Shanghai. The city lifted its lockdown on June 1 and the resort begun opening some areas just over a week later.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters.com

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Jun 2022

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Covid-19: UK makes first payments to compensate injury or death from vaccines

The first compensation payments in the UK have been made to families who have been bereaved, or to people who have been injured, as a result of a covid-19 vaccine. Vikki Spit from Cumbria is believed to be the first person to receive compensation, after her 48 year old partner, Zion, became ill eight days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Zion, a former rock singer, died at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle in May 2021. A handful of other people have received payments in the past few days under the government’s vaccine damage payment scheme (VDPS), which pays out up to a maximum of £120 000 (€140 000; $150 000). Sarah Moore, a partner at the Hausfeld law firm, which is representing people seeking compensation, told The BMJ it was an important moment. “While the VDPS payments are very modest in amount, and will do very little to alleviate the financial difficulties with which many families are now struggling as a consequence of injury or bereavement, the fact of payment for some will mark a moment of vindication in that it is the clearest statement yet, by the government, that in some rare instances the covid-19 vaccines have caused very significant injury or death.”
27th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

Bereaved may take legal action against Government over coronavirus inquiry delay

Bereaved families have warned they may take legal action against the Government over delays to starting the coronavirus public inquiry. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group is considering bringing a judicial review over the failure to provide a setting up date for the inquiry into the Government's handling of the pandemic. They say this leaves the inquiry in "limbo", more than six months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Baroness Hallett to chair the probe in December 2021.
27th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Shanghai will gradually resume dining-in at restaurants from June 29

Shanghai will gradually resume dining-in at restaurants from June 29 in low-risk areas and areas without any community-level spread of COVID-19 during the previous week,a Shanghai government official said on Sunday. The Chinese econonic hub lifted a two month city-wide lockdown on June 1, but many establishments have remained unable to offer indoor dining since mid-March. Shanghai reported no new locally transmitted cases - either symptomatic or asymptomatic - for June 24 and June 25.
27th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Jun 2022

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Bereaved May Take Legal Action Against UK Over Covid Inquiry Delay

Bereaved families have warned they may take legal action against the Government over delays to starting the coronavirus public inquiry. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group is considering bringing a judicial review over the failure to provide a setting up date for the inquiry into the Government's handling of the pandemic. They say this leaves the inquiry in "limbo", more than six months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Baroness Hallett to chair the probe in December 2021. The PM has previously said the inquiry would start in spring 2022, but its terms of reference have not yet been published, nor a setting-up date specified. The group says the delay could cost lives, as it slows down how quickly lessons can be learned, and is worried key evidence could be tampered with or destroyed.
26th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

An NFT of a Covid-19 Vaccine Heads to Auction

A nonfungible token, or NFT, showcasing the molecular technology of the mRNA vaccine used to fight Covid-19, will be auctioned at Christie’s online next month to raise money for future medical research. The 3-D digital work is designed by the University of Pennsylvania and Drew Weissman, a doctor whose research helped create mRNA vaccines. The one-minute visual work also comes with a storyboard that explains how mRNA vaccines work to fight the Covid-19 virus; copies of original mRNA patent documents owned by the University of Pennsylvania; and an original letter from Weissman, director of Vaccine Research at The Perelman School of Medicine at the university. mRNA, short for messenger ribonucleic acid, is a single-stranded molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene. Unlike traditional vaccines, which use a weakened or inactive germ to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines are designed to teach the body to create a protein that triggers the immune response.
26th Jun 2022 - Barron's

London's Prime Shopping Street Has a Case of Long Covid

Regent Street, London’s premier shopping thoroughfare, is struggling to shake off the lingering effects of Covid-19. Store vacancy levels, at a record 12%, are almost twice what they were at the end of 2019, while asking rents for the best space on the street have fallen by more than 30% during the pandemic, according to Savills Plc. Shoppers who stroll along the curving avenue, passing through Oxford Circus and Piccadilly in London’s West End, may notice the absence of familiar brands. J Crew, Brooks Brothers, Desigual and Zara Home all closed stores during the two years of on-again off-again lockdowns that battered brick-and-mortar retailers and accelerated a shift to online shopping.
26th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

China's Economy Improves in June From Lockdown-Induced Slump

China’s economy showed some improvement in June as Covid restrictions were gradually eased, although the recovery remains muted. That’s the outlook based on Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators for this month. The overall gauge returned to the neutral level after deteriorating for two straight months.
26th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 ‘magic mirror’ reflects widening fissures in Chinese society

“Covid-19 is a magic mirror that reveals the monster within” was a popular saying in China in the early days of the pandemic. It was used by the Chinese foreign ministry in reference to the United States to suggest that Covid-19 had uncovered America’s long-standing social problems. Whoever coined the saying was certainly very astute. But I wonder how many people in China at the time realised that one day the mirror could be turned on themselves. What would they see? What demons might be revealed? I have lived in China all my life. I am part of a generation that has seen outstanding improvements in this society. It seemed to us that things could only get better, and if there were any challenges along the way, there was nothing that we as a country could not get through by working together.
25th Jun 2022 - South China Morning Post

Latin America's kids slid into education black hole during pandemic

In Bolivia's highland city La Paz, Maribel Sanchez's children spent much of the last two years huddling over a small smartphone screen to attend online classes amid a lengthy lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The two boys, aged 11 and eight, frequently missed lessons when their timetables collided as the family had no computer. Bolivian school children only finally returned to in-person classes in March this year, many still not full time. The story is echoed around the region from Mexico to Brazil. Latin American has one of the worst records of school closures globally, according to a World Bank report, which shows children here faced almost 60 weeks of fully or partially closed schools between March 2020 and March this year. That's behind only South Asia and twice the level of Europe, Central and East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa or the Pacific. In North America there were long partial closures, but just seven weeks of full closures versus 29 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
24th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Jun 2022

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Video: How the Pandemic Has Accelerated Child Marriage in India

In a bid to combat child marriage, Archana Sahay started a 24-hour helpline based in the central Indian city of Bhopal. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, she was inundated with calls: Some were what she had come to expect from already-vulnerable girls and people concerned with their welfare. Others caught her by surprise. On this episode of “The Pay Check,” Bloomberg explores how another unforeseen consequence of Covid-19 in India has been a significant increase in child marriage—and how one woman is trying to fight it.
24th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Shanghai's fashion stores struggle to clear lockdown stock hangover

Almost a month since Shanghai lifted its strict COVID-19 lockdowns, fashion retailers are stuck with piles of unsold stock as cautious consumers stay away from the commercial hub's glitzy shopping districts. Curbs to stop the virus in Shanghai, China's fashion capital, ground the city of 25 million to a halt in April and May, leaving clothing and beauty product displays in stores untouched and containers of imported apparel stranded at port.
24th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Jun 2022

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Covid-19: How has the pandemic differed across the four UK nations?

Although the overall course of the pandemic has been similar across the UK, there have been instances when the countries’ trajectory has diverged. In the first wave Northern Ireland had far fewer deaths and hospital admissions. Lockdown restrictions were similar across the UK at this time. One possible explanation for the divergence is that lockdown began at a slightly earlier stage in the pandemic in Northern Ireland, reducing the size of the peak there. In the second wave Scotland had relatively fewer cases, hospital admissions, and deaths than England and Wales. Scotland also had the most consistent set of restrictions in place between September and December 2020, which may have helped to delay the spread of the alpha variant (which was dominant in England by the beginning of December but not in Scotland until January 2021).34 Northern Ireland had a slightly later peak in cases in this wave, which may have contributed to lower mortality, as a result of the vaccination programme reducing severe disease. Northern Ireland’s younger population may also have been a factor in its lower cumulative mortality. From the middle of 2021 to February 2022 Northern Ireland had consistently higher rates of hospital admission for covid-19 than elsewhere in the UK, although case rates and mortality have been broadly similar. This suggests that hospital care for patients with covid-19 may have been organised differently in Northern Ireland, resulting in a higher admission rate. Another possibility is that hospital acquired covid-19, which has been a significant concern,5 may be a particular problem in hospitals in Northern Ireland. In February and March 2022 Scotland had the highest case rates and a rapid increase in hospital admissions, despite retaining restrictions longest in response to omicron.
22nd Jun 2022 - The BMJ

Women more likely to have long COVID, different symptom profile

Women are significantly more likely than men to experience long COVID, with symptoms that follow a distinct clinical pattern, researchers reported today. They said more efforts are needed to explore sex differences in outcomes, including greater risks of exposure for some jobs. The researchers from the Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer reported their findings yesterday in Current Medical Research and Opinion, a peer-reviewed journal.
22nd Jun 2022 - CIDRAP

Nearly 1 in 5 adults who had COVID have lingering symptoms - U.S. study

Nearly 1 in 5 American adults who reported having COVID-19 in the past are still having symptoms of long COVID, according to survey data collected in the first two weeks of June, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday. Overall, 1 in 13 adults in the United States have long COVID symptoms lasting for three months or more after first contracting the disease, and which they did not have before the infection, the data showed.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Jun 2022

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COVID-19: Brits to have first access to vaccines and treatments when new science super-centre opens

US pharmaceutical firm Moderna is to establish a global clinical trials base in the UK, which it says will endorse the country as a science superpower - and future-proof it against emerging health threats.
22nd Jun 2022 - Sky News

RMI's COVID-19 vaccine partnership with Acacium proves a success

The joint aim of the companies was to provide vaccines to vulnerable communities Remote Medical International (RMI) – which specialises in protecting the health of workers in diverse areas across the world – partnered with healthcare solutions company Acacium Group to provide vaccinations in areas of notable need during 2021-22. Their joint aim was to deliver mobile vaccination and COVID-19 test processing units throughout the Midlands and South East of the UK during the pandemic. The companies delivered mobile-testing with a results turnaround time of less than three hours and, throughout the course of their deployment, processed in the excess of 200,000 tests
21st Jun 2022 - PharmaTimes

U.S. factories pop up to make medical gloves, spurred by pandemic

Rising from a muddy field on the outskirts of the small town of Fayette, Alabama is a bricks-and-mortar symbol of the global COVID pandemic: A new glove factory. When completed in 2024 the complex, owned by Japan’s SHOWA Glove Co will be able to produce about 3 billion medical-grade nitrile gloves a year from its dozen massive new, five-stories-tall, automated assembly lines. That may seem like a lot but is only a small slice of the over 100 billion consumed in the United States annually.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Twitter Accounts Hyped Company Seeking Covid Vaccine Trials

A network of Twitter accounts pushed messages to boost the share price of a biotech company as it sought approval to run a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, according to research provided to Bloomberg News. The tweets promoted stock for Ocugen Inc., which is based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, at rates well above market value, according to research by Alethea Group, a startup that tracks disinformation. The company’s share price nearly doubled in a little more than a week. The findings suggest a coordinated social media effort to sway interest in an otherwise little known medical technology company, according to Lisa Kaplan, Alethea Group’s founder and chief executive officer.
21st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jun 2022

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Canada's latest travel restrictions as Covid-19 vaccine mandate lifted for domestic and outbound travel

Passengers boarding planes or trains in Canada will no longer be required to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus from June 20. The government in Ottawa has lifted the vaccine mandate for domestic and outbound travel as infection rates continue to fall. Rules about inbound travel remain unchanged and mean that non-Canadians must be vaccinated to enter freely. Those who are unvaccinated are required to take tests before and after arrival as well as self-isolate for two weeks. Face masks remain compulsory for all travellers, unless exempt, including in certain indoor public settings. Those travelling by air are expected to get an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) to enter the country.
20th Jun 2022 - Daily Record

Saudi lifts COVID-19 travel restrictions to Turkey, India, Ethiopia and Vietnam

Saudi Arabia lifted coronavirus travel restrictions on Monday on its citizens travelling to Turkey, India, Ethiopia and Vietnam, state news agency SPA reported. Earlier this month, the kingdom lifted measures imposed to prevent the spread of the virus, including a requirement to wears face masks indoors.
20th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Jun 2022

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Is there a new Covid wave? How many cases there are in the UK and why there are concerns over new variant

Covid infections have shot up by 47 per cent this month, prompting fears the UK is embarking on its third wave of the year. Daily symptomatic infections have increased by 53,943, from 114,030 on 1 June to 167,973 on Tuesday, according to the latest figures from the ZOE Covid study app. The four-day weekend of Platinum Jubilee celebrations kicked off on 2 June, so much of the rise has been put down to street parties and other events held across the country to mark the occasion. But the post-Jubilee increase was expected to peak at about 150,000 cases a day before dropping a bit and stabilising. Instead, numbers have carried on going up, with substantial daily increases in recent days. It is entirely possible that cases could soon peak and begin to fall, but there are growing fears we are in the early stages of a new wave driven by the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
16th Jun 2022 - iNews

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Jun 2022

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The inside story of Recovery: how the world’s largest COVID-19 trial transformed treatment – and what it could do for other diseases

Two years ago this week, the Recovery trial transformed the care of COVID patients with its dexamethasone announcement. Within four hours, the steroid was included in NHS treatment recommendations. Almost overnight, treatment of COVID patients around the world changed completely. It has been estimated that dexamethasone may have saved a million lives in the first nine months following the announcement. Recovery, jointly led by Oxford Population Health and the Nuffield Department of Medicine, is a groundbreaking scientific machine which, from the outset, moved at unprecedented speed. Within 15 days, more than 1,000 participants around the UK had joined the trial; five weeks later, that number had risen to 10,000. In the first 100 days alone, the trial produced three groundbreaking results that would completely reshape COVID care.
15th Jun 2022 - The Conversation

Hong Kong police chief defends enforcement of Covid-19 rules

The head of the Hong Kong Police Force has defended officers’ enforcement of Covid-19 rules while attending a district council meeting on Tuesday. After the meeting, Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu told the press that the Force would reach “total mobilisation” for the 25 anniversary of the city’s handover to China, and that a new counter-terrorism reporting hotline had already received more than 1,000 calls. Siu attended the North District Council meeting to brief councillors on crime data in the district. He was also asked to explain the relationship between police enforcement actions and control of the disease and the effectiveness of anti-epidemic work in the North District, according to the meeting’s agenda.
15th Jun 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press

Long Covid Is Showing Up in the Employment Data

Given that you have to be unable to work for at least 12 months to qualify for Social Security disability and going on the program is a momentous step that effectively requires leaving the labor market, the still-new phenomenon that is Long Covid is probably not playing a big role (the Social Security Administration has said that only about 1% of recent claims mention Covid). Still, the turnaround in disability applications is at least not incompatible with a rise in long-term health problems related to the disease — and it turns out there are stronger signs of Long Covid in other employment-related data.
15th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Jun 2022

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South Africa Covid-19 Hospital Admissions Show Story of Inequality

The confluence between race and inequality in South Africa has been starkly illustrated through hospital admissions over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Black people living in the country were likely to be hospitalized at a younger age, less likely to have access to intensive care units and ventilators and had higher mortality from the disease than White residents, according to a study led by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Indian and mixed race South Africans, locally known as Colored, also fared worse. “Blacks, Indians and Coloreds were more likely to die,” Waasila Jassat, a researcher with the NICD and one of the authors of the study, said in an interview on Tuesday. The study shows “the interplay between race, age, sex and socio-economic status” and how different groups experienced Covid-19, she said.
14th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Canada to end COVID vaccine mandate for domestic travel -CBC News

The Canadian government on Tuesday will announce an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates for domestic travel on planes and trains and outgoing international travel, CBC News reported on Monday, citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter. The government, which has faced criticism over ongoing pandemic restrictions, may bring back the vaccine mandate if a new variant of the virus is discovered, the report added.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Disney Resort to reopen Disneytown, hotel on June 16

Shanghai Disney Resort said on Tuesday it will reopen Disneytown and Shanghai Disneyland hotel on June 16 but the main Disneyland park will remain closed until further notice. Toy Story Hotel, one of its two resort hotels will also remain closed, the resort operator said in a statement. The Shanghai Disney Resort reopened some retail and park areas last week.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

China's '618' shopping festival to test COVID-hit shoppers' urge to splurge

China is set to get a picture of how the country's zero-COVID-19 policy and slowing economy have impacted shoppers' urge to splurge, as e-commerce platforms gear up to report takings from the mid-year "618" shopping festival this weekend. Held in the run-up to June 18, 618 is China's second-largest shopping event by sales after Nov. 11's Singles Day, with bargain-hunters holding off purchases in anticipation of discounts spanning a range of brands.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Congress examines fraud in pandemic aid for small businesses

The U.S. failed to take basic steps at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to prevent fraud in a federal aid program intended to help small businesses, depleting the funds and making people more vulnerable to identity theft, the chairman of a House panel examining the payouts said Tuesday. Democratic Rep. James Clyburn blamed the Trump administration for the problems in the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration, amid revelations that as much as 20% of the money — tens of billions of dollars — may have been awarded to fraudsters. Clyburn said the Biden administration has implemented measures to identify potential fraud and directed loan officers to address indications of fraud before approving loans, while Congress has invested in fraud prevention and accountability.
14th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Jun 2022

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Canada urged to support COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver

Advocates for vaccine equity are calling on the Canadian government to join the push for a patent waiver to help in the global fight against COVID-19, just as the World Trade Organization opens high-level talks on this and other issues.
13th Jun 2022 - CTV News

Coronavirus: More than 100 TfL workers died from Covid-19

More than 100 Transport for London (TfL) workers are known to have died from Covid-19, new figures show. Of those who died from the virus, 75 worked on London buses, while 23 worked on the Tube network. The majority were people belonging to ethnic minorities and only five were women, TfL said. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said TfL had "put in place a range of additional support for families and colleagues where there has been a bereavement". TfL said a permanent memorial would be completed later this year to "help pay tribute to the critical role transport workers played during the global pandemic".
13th Jun 2022 - BBC News

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Jun 2022

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Covid Testing No Longer Need for Flying. Airlines May Not Be Ready

Airlines have been petitioning for months to ease a pandemic-era restriction on arrivals from abroad. Now that the White House has lifted mandatory Covid testing for inbound passengers, the industry may rue having its collective wish granted just ahead of the busiest time of year for travel. As of June 12, travelers by air will join those at land ports of entry in no longer needing to submit negative Covid test results. That rule has depressed traffic and delayed a recovery for long-haul international service, airline lobbyists and the U.S. Travel Association have told the Biden administration repeatedly. But no more mandatory tests may presage an upswell in demand the industry is ill-prepared to handle. The situation in Europe -- where mandatory testing was abandoned as early as January in the UK -- isn’t encouraging.
12th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19: How long-term smell loss can impact daily life

Recent studies show that 12-18 months after getting COVID-19, up to 46% of people are still experiencing a clinical reduction in their sense of smell. But what are the impacts of long-term smell loss on everyday life? Issues can include challenges with food safety, weight, relationships and mental health, according to a neuroscientist. Smell training can improve olfactory functions over time.
10th Jun 2022 - World Economic Forum

Preventing another Covid-19: Ugandan lab leads hunt for zoonotic diseases

On the shores of Lake Edward, near Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a renovated building houses a research laboratory capable of handling serious diseases such as anthrax. This building is the newest front in the hunt for zoonotic diseases and is at the forefront of a growing research movement that focuses on east Africa and other infection hotspots. The recent emergence of Covid-19 and monkeypox, both of which jumped from animals to humans, have been a reminder of the power that such diseases have to reshape our world, and the importance of early identification and genomic sequencing to help stop their spread.
10th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Jun 2022

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China Markets Spring Back Into Action as Covid Lockdowns Ease

Financial markets across China are buzzing with activity as easing Covid lockdowns boost trading. Yuan-trading volumes in the onshore market bounced off two-year lows while stock turnover topped the key 1 trillion yuan ($149 billion) mark for two straight sessions this week. That’s after Shanghai officially reopened following a two-month lockdown and Beijing further loosened Covid curbs, spurring bets of an economic rebound and a return of foreign inflows into the country. “It appears that the re-pricing of China macro growth risk due to the lockdowns has run its course,” Ken Cheung, strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. said. A slew of pro-growth measures and the reopening in Shanghai and Beijing have helped stabilize expectations for China’s economy, he said.
10th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Explainer: Can we still avoid Covid-19 and is there any point trying?

With new Covid-19 case numbers down, many may be asking if there's any point keeping up precautions to avoid the virus, particularly those who haven't caught it yet. Is it still possible to protect ourselves from the illness? Surely we're all going to get it at some stage, and the 'milder' Omicron variants make it less of a threat to our health, so what's the big deal? Here's what you need to know. We are now more than two years into a pandemic that turned many people's lives upside-down.
9th Jun 2022 - RNZ

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Jun 2022

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Vietnam’s health minister arrested over COVID test gouging

Vietnam’s health minister and the mayor of the capital Hanoi have been arrested as part of an expanding investigation into massive price gouging of COVID-19 tests, state media reported. Nguyen Thanh Long was dismissed from his ministry post and Chu Ngoc Anh, who previously was the science minister, was fired as Hanoi mayor, Tuoi Tre online news outlet reported Tuesday. They are being investigated for abuse of power, according to the Ministry of Public Security, and have been expelled from the ruling Communist Party. An investigation concluded earlier that mismanagement in the science and health ministries had allowed Viet A Technology Corporation to inflate prices for test kits supplied to hospitals and health centers in Vietnam.
8th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Jun 2022

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US has thrown out more than 82m Covid vaccine doses

The United States has thrown out 82.1m Covid vaccine doses from December 2020 to the middle of last month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. That number of wasted vaccines accounts for more than 11 per cent of the doses distributed by the federal government during the pandemic, reports NBC News. Retail pharmacy chains CVS and Walmart were responsible for more than a quarter of the discarded doses in the US during the time period. This is a reflection of the volume of doses each company handled, said the report. The wasted vaccines were caused by a variety of factors, including doses that expired at pharmacies before they could be used, power cuts, broken freezer storage and open vials being thrown out at the end of business days unused. CVS wasted nearly 11.8m doses, or about 13 per cent of the 89.9m it received.
7th Jun 2022 - The Independent

Reasons behind COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and efficient strategies to address it

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Olivier Sibomana, an enthusiastic and highly committed medical student at University of Rwanda (UR), college of medicine and health sciences, department of general medicine and surgery. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.
7th Jun 2022 - The European Sting

China offers Covid vaccine insurance to win over jab sceptics

China has devised a new incentive to boost elderly vaccinations to levels that could finally allow the country to relax its zero-Covid strategy and revive the economy: insurance packages for people worried about jab-related side effects. Dozens of cities across the country have begun offering people aged 60 and older free insurance that pays out up to Rmb500,000 ($75,000) if they fall ill — or worse — because of Covid-19 vaccines. The packages also promise payouts to families if it can be proven that a loved one’s death was related to receiving a jab. In Beijing alone, about 60,000 seniors have signed up for the coverage since April.
7th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

Universal Beijing Resort to reopen on June 15 as COVID curbs ease

The Universal Beijing Resort said on Tuesday it will reopen on June 15 after being closed more than a month to comply with China's COVID-19 prevention measures, but it will cap the number of visitors at no more than 75% of capacity. The resort, which includes a retail district, two hotels and the Universal Studios theme park, was shut on May 1. After it reopens, all visitors must show a negative PCR test taken within the past 72 hours and wear masks at all times, in line with city-wide measures. The resort will also test its employees daily and carry out regular disinfection, it added.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Treasury approves first state projects from $10 bln COVID broadband fund

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday announced the first state awards from a $10 billion COVID-19 aid program aimed at boosting broadband internet access in underserved communities, funding $583 million worth of projects in Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana and New Hampshire. The Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, a relatively unheralded portion of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, provides money for broadband infrastructure and other projects that enable work, education and healthcare monitoring.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Jun 2022

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UK shoppers cut spending by most since COVID lockdown in 2021

British shoppers facing a surge in inflation cut their spending in May by the most since the country was in a coronavirus lockdown in early 2021, according to a survey published on Tuesday. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said total retail spending was 1.1% lower than a year earlier, the biggest fall since January last year and representing an acceleration from April's 0.3% decline.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Turkey removes all Covid-related restrictions for Indian travellers

Turkey has relaxed all the conditions for travellers entering the country and is expecting to welcome the highest-ever number of Indian tourists this year, Turkiye Tourism Board said on Monday. Earlier, Indian travellers were required to submit either a vaccination certificate or an RT-PCR test report to visit Turkey, according to a statement. Now, Indian travellers no longer have to show proof of vaccination against coronavirus or proof of recovery from the disease or a negative RT-PCR test result, it added. With both Indigo and Turkish Airlines resuming direct international flights to Turkiye, the country is expecting to welcome the highest-ever number of Indian tourists this year, it said.
6th Jun 2022 - The Financial Express on MSN.com

U.S. aims to ramp up international tourism hit hard by COVID

The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday will unveil a new strategy aimed at boosting international tourism hit hard by COVID-19 and government travel restrictions by streamlining the entry process and promoting more diverse destinations. The "National Travel and Tourism Strategy" sets a goal of 90 million international visitors by 2027 who will spend an estimated $279 billion annually, topping pre-pandemic levels, the department told Reuters.
6th Jun 2022 - Reuters

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Shanghai Residents Revel in Outdoor Walks, Haircuts and More of the Mundane

Residents gathered at the gates of some housing compounds in Shanghai late Tuesday to stage a countdown to midnight, when the city’s government lifted anti-Covid-19 restrictions that had kept them holed up inside their apartments—in many cases for more than two months. Shortly after the deadline passed, a convoy of cars emerged from the gates of one complex, sounding their horns and with national flags draped over their hoods, videos circulating on social media showed. Passengers could be seen standing with their heads out of sunroofs. Firecrackers sparkled in the night sky as a festive mood entered the city after weeks of chaos, frustration and mounting despair. From midnight, the Shanghai authorities said most of the city’s 25 million residents were free to leave their apartments and residential compounds to go to work, with all businesses cleared to resume normal operations. Officials are eager to get China’s most economically important city running again.
2nd Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Jun 2022

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Legal challenges to Queensland's COVID vaccine mandate get underway

The first of several civil cases, brought on by dozens of Queensland frontline workers who are challenging their COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including police officers and paramedics, begins in Brisbane.
31st May 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Hong Kong to distribute 240,000 RAT kits following sewage COVID-19 detection

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said Tuesday that it will distribute about 240,000 sets of COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) kits to people in some areas of the city as part of a follow-up on recent detection of the COVID-19 virus in sewage samples. The test kits will be distributed to residents, cleaning workers, and property management staff working in the areas with positive sewage testing results showing relatively high viral loads, in order to help identify infected persons, it said. The HKSAR government also urged RAT kit users to report any positive results for COVID-19 via the government's online platform.
31st May 2022 - English News.cn

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st May 2022

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North Korea Calls Covid Vaccines "Immortal Potion Of Love" From Kim Jong Un: Report

As North Korea finally began its COVID-19 vaccination programme, the nation's supreme leader Kim Jong Un declared that the coronavirus jabs are an “immortal potion of love” gifted by him. According to Daily Star, the North Korean leader made the bizarre claims through loudspeakers playing through vehicles at vaccination sites. Responding to its recent Covid outbreak, North Korea started rolling out the vaccines. However, so far, the Covid jabs are only reserved for soldiers working on national construction projects.
30th May 2022 - NDTV

Tasmanian MP backs petition questioning COVID-19 masks and vaccinations

A Tasmanian government MP has come under fire for making a "concerning" decision to sponsor a petition to State Parliament containing vaccine-related misinformation. Liberal backbencher John Tucker has sponsored a petition to State Parliament that claims vaccine and mask mandates imposed by the government he is a member of "have not stopped the spread or mitigated the risks of contracting COVID-19 in Tasmania". It also argues that, "there is increasing public concern that vaccinations and masking are unsafe," and calls on the Tasmanian government to lift all vaccination mandates and end mask requirements in schools, medical clinics and transport.
30th May 2022 - ABC News

Queensland's frontline workers begin series of legal challenges to COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The first of several civil cases, brought on by dozens of Queensland frontline workers who are challenging their COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including police officers and paramedics, has begun in Brisbane. More than 70 Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) staff who have refused to comply with their employer's directives, are testing the legality of the policies in the Supreme Court, arguing they are unjust or an improper exercise of power. Some of the applicants, made up of three groups, have also claimed that similar directions made by the state's Chief Health Officer last year breached human rights laws, but that matter will be heard at a later date alongside other similar legal challenges.
30th May 2022 - ABC News

Why some Hongkongers are still shunning Covid-19 vaccines

May 31 vaccine pass deadline means only those with three jabs or suitable exemption will be allowed entry to most venues citywide. Firm belief in personal freedoms, fear of side effects remain key hurdles for inoculation drive.
30th May 2022 - South China Morning Post

Increase in depression and anxiety rates in the U.K. identified during COVID-19 lockdowns

Though many studies have been conducted over the last two years, both during and after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions were implemented, the long-term effects of these events remain unclear. A new study published on the preprint server medRxiv* discusses changes in the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and their association with individual and environmental factors.
30th May 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Wary of foreign 'bad manners', Japan cautiously eases borders to aid tourism

Japan's easing of a two-year ban on foreign tourists seeks to balance the enormous economic importance of tourism with concerns that travellers would trigger a COVID outbreak, insiders say. Under the decision, Japan will allow in a limited number of foreign tourists on package tours starting June 10. Last week a few "test tours", mainly of overseas travel agents, started to arrive. Relaxing some of the world's strictest pandemic border measures required months of pressure from travel and tourism executives, three insiders told Reuters, describing both the government's fears of public backlash if infections spiked and the industry's concerns of an economic wipeout.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

India to provide scholarships, counselling to those orphaned by COVID-19

India's federal government will provide educational scholarships, mental health counselling and health insurance to children who have been orphaned by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday. "For those who have lost a loved one to coronavirus, the change it has brought to their lives is so difficult," Modi said during an online event as he announced government benefits for minor children who have lost both parents to COVID-19.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th May 2022

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The Best and Worst Places to Be in a World Divided Over Covid

Most of the world is now living alongside Covid-19, with the omicron variant penetrating parts of the globe that avoided the worst of the early pandemic, triggering record waves in places like New Zealand and Taiwan. In Europe and North America, while life has largely normalized, there’s still a constant stream of Covid fatalities—especially in the US and UK. The ability to open up with low levels of death is why Norway retains the No. 1 position in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking for a third month. A 91% vaccination rate in adults has helped the Nordic country keep its fatality rate low, despite a consistently circulating virus. Ireland comes in second in May, while Denmark overtakes the United Arab Emirates for third as it emerges from an omicron-fueled wave.
27th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th May 2022

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Spain's Covid booster jab entry requirement for all holidaymakers explained

Brits holidaying in Spain could need Covid boosters to enter the sunny travel hotspot this summer. Jabbed travellers can bypass testing with the right proof of vaccination on hand. It comes as the country opened its doors to non-vaccinated travellers to the first time ever since the pandemic began. The changing rules is indicative of the times as countries relax some restrictions to boost travel while sometimes maintaining key rules on jabs. For example, tourists entering the UK don't need a vaccine certificate, but British citizens have been warned to meet Spanish authorities' validity period requirements. The Foreign Office has advised Brits exactly when they'll need a booster to enter Spain.
26th May 2022 - Daily Record

Latino and Indigenous Mexican farm-working communities face high risk of COVID-19

Although everyone has been affected by COVID-19 and the pandemic it spawned, not all populations have been affected equally. In the United States, for example, COVID-19 cases and death rates have been disproportionately high in Latino and Indigenous populations. To understand how determinants of health affect perceptions of the coronavirus, its spread, and decision making around COVID-19 testing and vaccination in vulnerable populations, a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, conducted a study in the Eastern Coachella Valley region of inland Southern California, home to Latino and Indigenous Mexican farm-working communities. Led by Ann Cheney, an associate professor of social medicine, population, and public health in the School of Medicine, the team reports in BMC Public Health that these immigrant populations are vulnerable to inequalities that increase their risk of COVID-19 exposure, morbidity, and mortality.
26th May 2022 - News-Medical.Net

COVID-19 boosters and building trust among UK minority ethnic communities

Ethnic disparities in COVID-19 persist, with increased rates of infection, severe disease, and death among people from minority ethnic groups.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 COVID-19 vaccination rates also remain lowest in these communities compared with white people in the UK. Among people older than 18 years, the proportion who have had three COVID-19 vaccinations in England in March, 2022, was lowest among Black Caribbean (38%), Black African (45%), and Pakistani (45%) ethnic groups.1 These disparities are likely to be attributed to the intersection of key social determinants, including socioeconomic factors such as deprivation, overcrowding, and working patterns and conditions, alongside discrimination and structural violence in the health-care system and society.
26th May 2022 - The Lancet

COVID-19: 55% of early pandemic survivors still symptomatic 2 years on

The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019Trusted Source. It has now been over two years since the beginning of the outbreak connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. Since then, many COVID-19 survivors have reported lingering health issues or symptoms that suddenly appear months and even a year after the initial infection. It is important to note that these patients experienced COVID-19 before vaccines were developed against SARS-CoV-2. A recent study looked into the current conditions of COVID-19 patients from Wuhan two years later.
26th May 2022 - Medical News Today

South Africa COVID vaccine hesitancy due to side-effect fears- survey

Fears over the possible side effects and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines have been the main drivers of hesitancy among thousands of South Africans, a government-backed online survey showed on Thursday.
26th May 2022 - Moneyweb.co.za

Analysis: Britain's shrunken workforce hampers COVID recovery

Britain's economy regained its pre-COVID size late last year, but in one crucial way it has not recovered: there are 400,000 fewer workers than at the start of the pandemic. This stands in contrast to most other big, rich economies where the labour force has recovered more, and adds to the Bank of England's inflation worries after surging energy prices and other bottlenecks pushed it to a 40-year high. The central bank fears a tight labour market will limit the economy's growth potential and put fresh upward pressure on wages, making it harder to bring inflation back to its target.
26th May 2022 - Reuters

Unwanted, Teen Pregnancies Rose During Covid Pandemic

All day long, kids stream in and out of the Tiffany-blue front door at Project Elimu, the premier ballet school in Kibera, a vibrant, low-income community in Nairobi, Kenya. But not all of the school’s visitors are dancers. Some, like 18-year-old Esther, are in acute distress, facing abuse at home or struggling with early pregnancy and parenthood. Esther is one data point in a wave of girls who became pregnant during the pandemic. According to the UNFPA, the United Nation’s sexual and reproductive healthy agency, some 1.4 million women and girls became pregnant unintentionally as a result of contraception interruptions in the first year of the pandemic alone.
26th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th May 2022

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NGOs urge Biden to push for changes to WTO's COVID waiver text

Oxfam America, Partners in Health and other civil society groups urged U.S. President Joe Biden to press for changes in a draft agreement on waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, underscoring divisions over the current text.In a letter sent to Biden on Monday, and viewed by Reuters, the groups said an "outcome document" reached after months of discussions between the main parties - the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa - fell short of his "righteous goal" of removing IP barriers for COVID vaccines.
25th May 2022 - Reuters

Hemmed in by COVID curbs, Beijingers seek respite in urban outdoors

On a hot, sunny day, children and adults splashed in the cool run-off of the Yongding River in a park on the western outskirts of Beijing, a city under near-lockdown in China's head-on battle with COVID-19. While gatherings are discouraged and many parks in the sprawling city of 22 million are shut, Beijingers - like others across China with limited travel options - have taken up outdoor pursuits such as camping and picnicking after more than two years of strict and often claustrophobic pandemic curbs.
26th May 2022 - Reuters

Manhattan return-to-office plans face persistent headwinds over COVID, safety

Efforts by financial firms and others to bring workers back to Manhattan offices more than two years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic face persistent headwinds, consultants said, with commuters still worrying about COVID-19 as well as safety. New York has lagged others major markets in the percentage of employees regularly working in the office, in part because of high usage rates of public transportation and COVID concerns, said David Lewis, chief executive of HR consultant firm OperationsInc, which works with several firms in the financial sector.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th May 2022

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Are UK coronavirus cases actually going down or are they just harder to count?

For almost two years we’ve been glued to a set of numbers: the grim trio of cases, hospitalisations and deaths that defined coronavirus in the UK. The daily figures led news reports for more than a year: people watched in horror as the height of the Omicron wave brought the highest ever daily caseload on Tuesday 4 January 2022 when 275,618 people tested positive. And they saw how many people died: a number that peaked on Tuesday 19 January 2021, when 1,366 people died, making it the the worst day of the pandemic*. Since March 2022 case numbers from the daily government dashboard have tumbled. A fall that has coincided with the government’s Living with Covid plan: as restrictions fell away in England, so did cases. The government ended restrictions including the legal requirement to self-isolate on 24 February and cut the provision of free tests on 1 April.
24th May 2022 - The Guardian

Manhattan return-to-office plans face persistent headwinds over COVID, safety

Efforts by financial firms and others to bring workers back to Manhattan offices more than two years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic face persistent headwinds, consultants said, with commuters still worrying about COVID-19 as well as safety. New York has lagged others major markets in the percentage of employees regularly working in the office, in part because of high usage rates of public transportation and COVID concerns, said David Lewis, chief executive of HR consultant firm OperationsInc, which works with several firms in the financial sector.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th May 2022

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Shanghai reopens some public transport, still on high COVID alert

Shanghai reopened a small part of the world's longest subway system on Sunday after some lines had been closed for almost two months, as the city paves the way for a more complete lifting of its painful COVID-19 lockdown next week. With most residents not allowed to leave their homes and restrictions tightening in parts of China's most populous city, commuters early on Sunday needed strong reasons to travel.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

Tesla plans to ramp up to pre-lockdown output in Shanghai by Tuesday

Tesla Inc plans to restore production at its Shanghai plant to the level at which it had operated before the city's COVID-19 lockdown by Tuesday, a day later than its most recent recovery plan, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. Tesla will more than double its daily output to 2,600 electric vehicles at its Shanghai plant from Tuesday, according to the memo detailing the plan. That compares to around 1,000 EVs produced on Monday, according to the memo, and would bring Tesla's weekly output to nearly 16,000 units, the memo showed.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd May 2022

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Coronavirus: Shanghai faces exodus of talent as lockdown dashes workers hopes for good jobs and a better life

Shanghai is facing an exodus of talent and labour as thousands of people leave the pandemic-hit city which has been in total lockdown since April 1, knocked by worries that local authorities will backtrack from plans to switch to normal virus control measures in June after achieving a societal zero-Covid goal. At the city's Hongqiao railway station, passengers have to queue up for two hours before they can even access the terminal. Those who plan on leaving need to show train tickets, approval letters from sub-district authorities and negative nucleic reports within 48 hours of their journey, before gaining permission to enter the terminal. A rapid antigen test is also required at the security checkpoints.
21st May 2022 - South China Morning Post on MSN.com

Taiwan export orders fall for first time in 2 years, hurt by China lockdowns, global weakness

Taiwan's export orders -- a bellwether for global technology demand -- fell for the first time in 25 months in April, taking a larger-than-expected hit from COVID lockdowns in China and broader global supply chain disruptions. Export orders unexpectedly fell 5.5% from a year earlier to $51.9 billion last month, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs showed on Friday. The decline was the first in more than two years, since the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the world in 2020, and up-ended analysts' forecasts for 8.3% growth.
20th May 2022 - Reuters

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African J&J COVID vaccine orders mark a 'financial failure'

Late last year, Johnson & Johnson’s COVID production partner Aspen Pharmacare touted the game-changing potential of its “monumental” licensing deal to make and sell J&J’s single-dose shot in Africa. Five months later, and two months after Aspen started production, the effort has encountered a problem currently familiar to all pandemic vaccine manufacturers. Owing to a lack of demand—even in Africa where just 15.9% of the continent’s 1.2 billion population has completed a coronavirus vaccination course—Aspen hasn’t received a single order for its branded version of the J&J shot, Bloomberg reports. “There were a lot of calls both from the West and from Africa that the best way to try and solve the problem was to establish our own local vaccine production capacity,” Stavros Nicolaou, Aspen’s head of strategic trade, told the news outlet. The subsequent dearth of business “sends an incredibly bad message,” he added.
19th May 2022 - FiercePharma

Taiwan firms resuming production in China as COVID curbs ease -minister

Roughly half of Taiwanese companies that had previously suspended work in China due to COVID-19 control measures have resumed production as curbs ease, the island's economy minister said on Thursday. Shanghai and neighbouring Kunshan, a hub for Taiwanese electronics makers including Apple supplier Quanta Computer, last month imposed stringent lockdowns to control the country's biggest COVID outbreak.
19th May 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th May 2022

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Inside the US communities where many are still unvaccinated

Holmes County in northeastern Ohio is a typical Midwestern community in the United States. Large red barns dot the rolling landscape. Trucks carrying freshly cut lumber boom through village streets. Woods and lakes dominate the landscape between villages named Berlin, Strasburg and Dresden. But in many ways, this is a place far from typical: At a time when approximately 77 percent of the wider United States population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, only about 19 percent of Holmes County residents have – one of the lowest county-level rates in the country. Approximately half of Holmes County’s 50,000 residents are members of the Amish community, a traditional Christian group that largely eschews modern technology and farms land in rural areas mainly in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
19th May 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Other People Are Working Through Covid. Do You Have To?

As the disease and corporate sick policies evolve, a number of factors have made it less clear-cut when workers can, or should, take a break to recover. Employers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. have recently cut back the expanded sick leaves they introduced in the early days of the pandemic. The Omicron variant’s often milder symptoms are also prompting many employees with remote-work options to simply power through their illness from home. As cases rise in places with high vaccination rates, many say they feel the same pressure to minimize sick days as they did in prepandemic times. A survey of 3,600 hourly workers by The Shift Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School this spring found that two-thirds of those who reported getting sick with Covid-19 or otherwise worked through their illness. People cited financial responsibilities as the top reason, followed by being afraid they would get in trouble for calling in sick and not being able to get their shifts covered.
19th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Shanghai lets financial firms resume work as COVID curb ease - sources

Shanghai authorities have granted approval to 864 of the city's financial institutions to resume work, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, as it gradually eases a city-wide lockdown that began seven weeks ago. The move is part of the financial hub's plan to reopen broadly and allow normal life to resume after the lockdown was enacted to curb China's worst outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan in late 2019 halted most economic activity.
18th May 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th May 2022

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Covid support schemes left ‘open goal’ to fraudsters, says watchdog

The business department’s handling of Covid support schemes left an “open goal” to fraudsters and embezzlers that has added “billions to taxpayer woes”, parliament’s spending watchdog has found. In its review of the annual report of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it recognised that the government offered crucial support to businesses at the height of the pandemic. However, it said efforts to identify fraud and error had come too late, given that by the time they are confirmed the money will have been spent and “trails will have long ago gone cold”. “BEIS says it saw this risk coming but it’s really not clear where government was looking when it set up its initial Covid response,” said the PAC’s chair, the Labour MP Dame Meg Hillier.
18th May 2022 - The Guardian

CDC: Africa tourism favorite now at 'high' risk for Covid-19

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed a popular African destination in its "high" Covid-19 risk category for travelers.South Africa -- renowned for its stunning vistas, wildlife, wineries and culture -- is now at Level 3. In total, the CDC moved up four destinations to the "high" risk column on Monday:
17th May 2022 - CNN

Austria lifts COVID-19 entry requirements – EURACTIV.com

Entering Austria no longer requires proof of vaccination, recovery passes, or testing after all COVID-19-related entry requirements were dropped from Monday. Provided there is no extension or change, these measures, presented by the health ministry Friday evening (13 May), should remain lifted until the end of September. According to the ministry, the current epidemiological situation justified lifting the entry regulations.
17th May 2022 - Euractiv

Shanghai residents leverage Excel skills, management savvy to navigate lockdown

China's worst COVID-19 outbreak has frayed nerves and stirred resentment among many residents of Shanghai but some have thrived in the face of adversity, stepping up with bright ideas and commitment to help their communities through the crisis. Not surprisingly, many such people have used the skills they developed in their jobs to help others navigate the frightening new world of forced quarantine and lockdowns that no one dreamed of before COVID.
17th May 2022 - Reuters

Students protest, discontent grows over China’s COVID policy

Administrators at an elite Beijing university have backed down from plans to further tighten pandemic restrictions on students as part of China’s “zero-COVID” strategy after a weekend protest at the school, according to students Tuesday. Graduate students at Peking University staged the rare, but peaceful protest Sunday over the school’s decision to erect a sheet-metal wall to keep them further sequestered on campus, while allowing faculty to come and go freely. Discontent had already been simmering over regulations prohibiting them from ordering in food or having visitors, and daily COVID-19 testing.
17th May 2022 - Associated Press

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th May 2022

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Children less active after Covid-19 restrictions eased, study finds

Activity levels among children fell below national guidelines after Covid-19 restrictions eased, a study finds. A university of Bristol study found by the end of 2021, less than a third were meeting the recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity daily. The findings showed children in England aged between 10 and 11 were doing eight minutes less activity than before 2021. Researchers said it "highlights a greater need" to work with families, and schools to get children active.
16th May 2022 - BBC News

Long Covid Symptoms Often Include Crushing Fatigue. Here’s How to Cope.

New studies offer clues about who may be more susceptible to long Covid, a term for lingering Covid-19 symptoms. WSJ breaks down the science of long Covid and the state of treatment
16th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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COVID-19: Around 60,000 NHS workers living with PTS after battling the pandemic

An estimated 60,000 NHS workers are believed to be living with post-traumatic stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research. NHS Charities Together also found nine in 10 workers (90%) say it will take them years to recover. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters (73%) have expressed concerns about their colleagues leaving the workforce due to poor mental health. Neal Ashurst, an operating department practitioner, was redeployed during the pandemic, switching from anaesthetics to a critical care unit.
13th May 2022 - Sky News

'Not free from COVID': Thousands pray at Portuguese shrine despite fears of new wave

Last year, only 7,500 were allowed inside the sanctuary and people had to stand in circles to maintain social distancing. For many, it was a special moment to see the sanctuary finally opening doors to a big crowd after the vast majority of COVID-19 rules were lifted last month. But, as daily infections rise again, Teresa Maria decided to keep her mask on. "I always try to take precautions," she said as she waited for the farewell procession, one of the highlights of the event, to begin. "We are not free from it because cases are going up."
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Lays Out Covid-19 Reopening Plan as China Cancels 2023 Soccer Tournament

Shanghai officials outlined plans for a phased reopening of shopping malls, supermarkets and other businesses, even as many residents in China’s financial hub remained confined to their locked-down homes. Chen Tong, Shanghai’s deputy mayor, said Sunday that the city would begin allowing businesses to open on a limited basis starting Monday as daily Covid-19 infection cases continue to decline nearly two months into a hard lockdown of the city of 25 million people. Mr. Chen characterized the city’s approach to the pandemic as entering a new transition phase, “from emergency response to normalized prevention and control.” On Sunday, Shanghai health authorities reported roughly 1,200 new Covid cases for the previous day, from a high of more than 20,000 last month. Daily infection counts have been below 5,000 for nearly two weeks.
13th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th May 2022

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COVID-19: Around 60,000 NHS workers living with PTSD after battling the pandemic

An estimated 60,000 NHS workers are believed to be living with post-traumatic stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research. NHS Charities Together also found nine in 10 workers (90%) say it will take them years to recover. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters (73%) have expressed concerns about their colleagues leaving the workforce due to poor mental health. Neal Ashurst, an operating department practitioner, was redeployed during the pandemic, switching from anaesthetics to a critical care unit. He told Sky News he had felt "incredibly apprehensive" initially as it meant significant changes from his usual role which he found "very daunting"
13th May 2022 - Sky News

UK police recommend more than 100 fines for Downing Street lockdown breaches

British police said on Thursday they had now made more than 100 referrals for fines as part of their investigation into lockdown rule-breaking at gatherings held in Downing Street during the COVID-19 pandemic. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised for receiving a fine in April for breaking lockdown rules by attending a gathering in his office to celebrate his birthday, but has refused to resign over it.
12th May 2022 - Reuters UK

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New Zealand to Fully Reopen Its Border At The End of July

New Zealand will fully reopen its border two months early, allowing the arrival of tourists, students and migrants from non visa-waiver countries like China and India. The border will be accessible to all from 11:59 p.m. on July 31, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday. Previously, the government had said the final re-opening step would occur in October, though it signaled the date would likely be brought forward. The maritime border will also open for cruise ships on July 31. New Zealand has been progressively allowing foreign visitors to return this year, hoping to revive a decimated tourist industry and add workers to a labor market battling with skills shortages. Visitors from visa-waiver countries such as the US, UK, Canada and Germany were able to enter from May 2, while Australians could arrive from April 13.
11th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Johns Hopkins students ask for online exams after covid spike

A late-semester spike in coronavirus cases at Johns Hopkins University, spurred by recent social events, has some students pleading for the option to take exams online. After many months of strict health protocols at Hopkins, the campus in Baltimore has seen more than 500 cases in the past week and, according to its online dashboard, had filled all available isolation housing. The spike shocked some students because of the school’s international reputation in public health and its early and enduring warnings about the dangers of the pandemic.
11th May 2022 - The Washington Post

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For widows in Africa, COVID-19 stole husbands, homes, future

Across Africa, widowhood has long befallen great numbers of women — particularly in the continent's least developed countries where medical facilities are scarce. Many widows are young, having married men decades older. And in some countries, men frequently have more than one wife, leaving several widows behind when they die. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has created an even larger population of widows on the continent, with African men far more likely to die of the virus than women, and it has exacerbated the issues they face. Women say the pandemic has taken more than their husbands: In their widowhood, it’s cost them their extended families, their homes and their futures.
10th May 2022 - ABC News

Toyota to slash production plan, suspend some domestic operation due to COVID lockdown in China

Toyota said on Tuesday it would suspend operations on 14 lines at eight domestic factories for up to six days in May due to the COVID lockdown in China. The duration will be between May 16 and May 21, the company said, expanding the number of lines and factories affected by partial suspension to a total of 20 and 12, respectively. The partial suspension would affect output of about 30,000 vehicles.
10th May 2022 - Reuters

Tesla stutters under tighter Shanghai lockdown; Beijing keeps hunting COVID

Tesla operated its Shanghai plant well below capacity on Tuesday, showing the problems factories face trying to ramp up output under a tightening COVID-19 lockdown, while China's capital kept up its fight with a small but stubborn outbreak. Many of the hundreds of companies reopening factories in Shanghai in recent weeks have faced challenges getting production lines back up to speed while keeping workers on-site in a "closed loop" system.
10th May 2022 - Reuters

Cancun, Tulum Struggle as Covid Sparks Mexico Travel Boom

It’s 2 p.m. in the Mexican resort town of Tulum, and the beach club at the Ikal Hotel is heating up for its “ecstatic dance” session. Inside a thatch-roofed pavilion, a sweaty crowd bops to a “folktronica” track spun by a DJ whose next stop is Berlin. Down a set of wide stone steps, fit thirtysomethings smack volleyballs on a beach that smells of seaweed and sunscreen. A “treehouse” room will set you back $800 a night, and a bottle of Crémant de Bourgogne sparkling wine runs $110.
10th May 2022 - Bloomberg

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Covid: Learning to live with the virus in the UK

The latest survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a continued fall in Covid 19 infections from a recent peak in April in the UK. The arrival of summer means more people will congregate outdoors at lower risk to themselves. But the return of people from holidays to work and study after summer holidays, and the onset of cooler autumnal weather could create conditions for another uptick in infections. More immediately, new strains of the Omicron variant could cause problems. The BA.2 version has proved more transmissible than BA.1.
9th May 2022 - BBC News

Once a zero-Covid poster child, Taiwan learns to live with the virus

Once a poster child for the success of zero-Covid, Taiwan is now dealing with an “Omicron tsunami”. In response – and in stark contrast to regional neighbours – health authorities have decided zero-Covid is no match for the new variant and have flipped the switch to “living with the virus”. “It is the right decision, and it’s also the decision we had to make,” says Dr Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan’s former vice-president and professor of epidemiology. Taiwan closed itself off in early 2020, and employed a regime of stringent contact tracing, social restrictions and personal hygiene measures which it kept even as vaccines and antivirals were developed. It defeated an outbreak of the Alpha strain and another of Delta in 2021. But after the highly virulent Omicron began affecting countries in November and December, Chen says he and other scholars advised the government to start shifting towards living with the virus.
9th May 2022 - The Guardian

Laos reopens to tourists and other visitors from abroad

The landlocked Southeast Asian nation of Laos reopened to tourists and other visitors on Monday, more than two years after it imposed tight restrictions to fight the coronavirus. Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, head of the government’s agency for controlling COVID-19, announced on Saturday the reopening date, the last in a three-phase plan, state news agency KPL reported. She said vaccination certificates or virus tests will still be required for Lao citizens and foreigners entering the country.
9th May 2022 - Associated Press

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Coronavirus Forces Cancellations in Jazz Fest's 2nd Weekend

Willie Nelson is cancelling an upcoming performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival and postponing other shows after a positive case of the coronavirus in his band. The 89-year-old musician posted on his band's website on Friday that “due to a positive Covid case in the Willie Nelson Family Band” two upcoming shows scheduled to happen May 6 and May 7 would be postponed and that Nelson's Sunday performance at Jazz Fest would be cancelled. Nelson was slated to close the Gentilly Stage — the same stage where his son Lukas Nelson is performing earlier in the day with his band the Promise of the Real. No replacement for the elder Nelson has yet been announced.
7th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Jon Batiste 'So Disappointed' to Cancel Shows After Positive Covid Test

Jon Batiste said he was "so disappointed" as he cancelled several upcoming shows after testing positive for Covid-19. The Grammy-winning artist said he would be absent from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and have to postpone the premiere of his American Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York - a show he had been working on for years. Batiste said the decision to cancel was to "keep my family, my friends and our loyal fans safe" and reassured them that he would be returning to the stage soon.
7th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Piers Corbyn fined over ‘murder’ claim at Covid vaccine clinic

Piers Corbyn has been fined £250 after accusing NHS staff at a London Covid-19 vaccination clinic of murdering people. The brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had arrived with a group of anti-vaxxers at Guy’s hospital in central London on 18 January with a “cease and desist” letter that they claimed was to prevent NHS staff from administering the Covid-19 vaccine. Corbyn told Chelsea Butcher, a nursing sister: “We are not leaving, you are murdering people here,” and another member of the group said, “This is a crime scene,” Westminster magistrates court heard. Iestyn Morgan, prosecuting, said Corbyn, 75, and David Burridge, 44, from Hounslow, west London, refused to leave the hospital’s atrium despite requests from NHS staff and police.
6th May 2022 - The Guardian

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China to fight comments, actions denying its COVID response policy -state media

China will fight any comments and actions that distort, doubt or deny the country's COVID-19 response policy, state television reported on Thursday, after a meeting of the country's highest decision-making body. Relaxing COVID controls will lead to large-scale infections, state television reported, following the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party's politburo, adding that China will step up research into and its defence against virus mutations, and will avoid one-size-fit-all policies.
5th May 2022 - Reuters

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China censors more economists after critical takes on zero-Covid

More outspoken economists and prominent investors are being silenced on social media in China as Beijing tightens its grip on online speech amid mounting economic pressure and growing controversies surrounding its zero-Covid policy. The public accounts of Hong Hao, who was head of research at Bank of Communications (Bocom) International Holdings were removed from both WeChat and the Twitter-like Weibo service on Saturday. Hong had more than 3 million followers on Weibo. It was unclear which red line the economist had crossed.
4th May 2022 - South China Morning Post

Fewer than 1 in 5 US parents say they'll get Covid-19 vaccines for kids under 5 as soon as they can, survey finds

US children under 5 are getting closer to authorized Covid-19 vaccines, but most parents may be reluctant to actually get them when they become available, a new survey found. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's Vaccine Monitor survey, published Wednesday, only 18% of parents of children under 5 said they would vaccinate their child against Covid-19 as soon as a vaccine was available.
4th May 2022 - MSN.com

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Pfizer accused of Covid profiteering as first-quarter sales hit $26bn

Pfizer has made nearly $26bn (£21bn) in revenues in the first three months of the year, the bulk from its Covid-19 vaccine and new pill to treat the virus, prompting fresh accusations of pandemic profiteering. Covid vaccines have saved many lives around the world and relieved the pressure on health systems, but Pfizer has faced criticism over its vaccine pricing and its refusal to waive patent protection to enable others to make the jab. Last week 35 campaigners from Global Justice Now, Act-Up London, Just Treatment and Stop Aids protested against what they call pandemic profiteering, and delivered wheelbarrows full of fake money to Pfizer’s UK headquarters in Surrey on the day of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
3rd May 2022 - The Guardian

Some in Shanghai Come Out for Air as Beijing Resumes Mass COVID Tests

Some of Shanghai's 25 million people managed to get out on Tuesday for short walks and shopping after enduring more than a month under a COVID-19 lockdown, while China's capital, Beijing, focused on mass tests and said it would keep schools closed.
4th May 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19: Hong Kong to reopen beaches, pools on Thur, no masks for outdoor exercise; bars to reopen May 19

Hong Kong will reopen beaches and pools, masks will no longer be required during outdoor exercise, and restaurants will be allowed to sit eight people to a table from Thursday, as the city prepares to further ease Covid-related restrictions. Bars and clubs will also be allowed to reopen on May 19, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced during a press conference on Tuesday.
3rd May 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong to further ease COVID curbs, bars to stay open until 2 a.m.

Hong Kong will further ease COVID-19 restrictions, allowing bars to open until 2 a.m. and raising the number of diners permitted at a table to eight from four, as cases in the global financial hub continue to ease, leader Carrie Lam said. Beaches and swimming pools would reopen from Thursday, when restaurants could also cater to four more people at each table, Lam said at a regular news briefing.
3rd May 2022 - Reuters

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The New Jet Set: How the COVID-driven boom in private jets is still flying high

Guy Stockbridge runs multiple businesses from his headquarters in central California, including landscape companies that ripple across his home state and a utility solar business with operations in 17 states. Flying is a way of life for Stockbridge and others at his company, Elite Team Offices, based in Clovis. For years they flew both privately and on commercial flights out of Fresno, roughly 10 miles from Clovis. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and private jet ownership became more and more attractive.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

Tears and chocolate as New Zealand opens its borders to 60 more countries

New Zealand welcomed thousands of travellers from around the globe on Monday as the country opened its borders to visitors from around 60 nations including the United States, Britain and Singapore for the first time since COVID-19 hit in early 2020. Maori cultural performers sang songs at the arrivals gate in Auckland and travellers were handed popular locally made chocolate bars as the first flights came in from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

Amazon ends COVID paid leave for U.S. workers

Amazon.com will end its paid time-off policy for employees with COVID-19 from May 2, the company told U.S.-based staff on Saturday. The change follows the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it said. The U.S.-based staff will now get five days of excused, unpaid leave following a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, Amazon told workers in a message it provided to Reuters.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

Greece lifts COVID curbs for travellers ahead of key summer season

Greece lifted COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday for foreign and domestic flights, its civil aviation authority said, ahead of the summer tourism season that officials hope will see revenues bouncing back from the pandemic slump. To fly in or out of the country, travellers were previously required to show either a vaccination certificate, a certificate saying they had recovered from coronavirus or a negative test. From May 1, passengers and crew will need only to wear a face mask, the civil aviation authority said.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

China, North Korea halt border rail crossing over COVID fears

China has suspended cross-border freight train services with North Korea following consultations after COVID-19 infections in its border city of Dandong, the foreign ministry said on Friday. The suspension came within four months after North Korea eased border lockdowns enforced early in 2020 against the coronavirus, measures global aid groups have blamed for its worsening economic woes and risks to food supplies for millions.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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'These lives matter': Oxfam and partners urge J&J, Pfizer and Moderna investors to focus on vaccine equity efforts

As the world struggles with COVID-19 more than two years after the virus first broke out, vaccine disparities continue to undermine the global response in some regions. During the annual meetings for three major vaccine players, access advocates are asking investors to step in. While 65.1% of the world population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, only 15.2% of people in low-income countries can say the same, according to Our World In Data. Vaccine inequity could cost the global economy more than $2 trillion by 2025 and spur “bouts of social unrest,” according to a CNBC report last summer. Oxfam has a goal for “everyone, everywhere” to have access to COVID-19 vaccines. The group says three major vaccine players shoulder much of the blame for vaccine disparities. During their annual meetings, it's renewing calls more transparency and access.
28th Apr 2022 - Fierce Pharma

Tourist favourite Thailand's recovery lags on COVID rule changes

As regional peers have eased entry requirements, Thailand has clung to a cumbersome process. "Whichever (country) offers easy, smooth, less complicated procedures wins my heart," said Johansen. Tourism professionals say Thailand's complicated entry rules are now holding back recovery in an industry that contributed 12% of GDP before the pandemic. Forward bookings for 2022 show Thailand reaching 25% of pre-pandemic levels, behind levels of 72% and 65% each for Singapore and the Philippines.
29th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Outpouring of Resentment on Chinese Social Media Is Overwhelming Censors

In the early hours of April 14, the Chinese Communist Party’s social media strategy went off the rails. It began when state media accounts on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, promoted the hashtag “The U.S. is the country with the largest human-rights deficit.” Tens of thousands of Chinese internet users turned the accusation around onto Beijing. They criticized not only China’s Covid response of strict stay-at-home orders and minimal financial support for households but also wider social problems: long working hours, high property prices, violence against women, and censorship itself. “Our doors are locked down. Our pets are killed. Our medical resources are wasted so that people with acute illness can’t be treated,” wrote one poster. “The American government is so horrible, I’m so lucky to be born in China,” read a typically ironic post.
27th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Global COVID deaths drop to lowest since early pandemic months

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said cases and deaths continue to drop, with just over 15,000 deaths reported to the WHO last week, which he said is the lowest weekly total since March 2020. He said the welcome news comes with the caveat that countries are reducing their testing, and the WHO is receiving less information on transmission and evolution. "But this virus won't go away just because countries stop looking for it," Tedros said. "It's still spreading, it's still changing, and it's still killing." The threat of new variants is still very real, and scientists still don't understand the long-term consequences of infection, he said, repeating the WHO's call for countries to maintain their surveillance activities. In China, Beijing has completed its first round of mass testing, which targeted 20 million people and yielded 12 cases. Cases in the city have been slowly rising, prompting mass testing and fears that residents of the country's capital could face a lockdown, similar to Shanghai's—which has been in effect for about a month.
27th Apr 2022 - CIDRAP

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Covid Zero Criticism Is New Test for China Censorship

It began when state media accounts on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, promoted the hashtag “The U.S. is the country with the largest human-rights deficit.” Tens of thousands of Chinese internet users turned the accusation around onto Beijing. They criticized not only China’s Covid response of strict stay-at-home orders and minimal financial support for households but also wider social problems: long working hours, high property prices, violence against women, and censorship itself. “Our doors are locked down. Our pets are killed. Our medical resources are wasted so that people with acute illness can’t be treated,” wrote one poster. “The American government is so horrible, I’m so lucky to be born in China,” read a typically ironic post.
28th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Transparency urged to raise COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Issues around vaccine acceptance must be addressed alongside equity of access and logistics if the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world's population against COVID-19 is to be met, says a report by global health policy experts. Emerging causes of so-called "vaccine hesitancy," described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines," should be monitored continually in order to better understand the problem, according to the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP).
27th Apr 2022 - Medical Xpress

Dutch celebrate first King's Day holiday without COVID curbs since 2019

The city streets around the Netherlands streamed with festival-goers wearing orange on Wednesday in celebration of the national holiday King's Day in traditional fashion -- with music and open-air markets -- for the first time since 2019, without COVID-19 restrictions. King Willem-Alexander, who turns 55 on Wednesday and whom the holiday celebrates, was visiting the southern city of Maastricht with his family, keeping a promise that had been postponed for two years due to the pandemic. In Amsterdam, where Kings' Eve is a party comparable to New Year's Eve, the streets of the historic centre have been mobbed with tens of thousands of celebrants since late Tuesday.
27th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Which Countries Are Open to Unvaccinated Tourists?

The U.K. doing away with all coronavirus-related travel restrictions on March 18 was major news—that is, until six more European countries (and counting) followed suit since. Whether they’re vaccinated or not, travelers entering the region now have even more destinations in which they won’t have to take a pre- or post-arrival test, follow any quarantine rules, or fill out passenger-tracking forms. International travelers still need the requisite visas, of course, but there are now nations on every continent that have adopted a post-pandemic attitude toward travel—even internally with mask-free living and no-quarantine requirements for those who test positive. The loosening of restrictions is sparking optimism for wanderlust after two years of stay-home pandemic rules and border closings. It’s also, alternately, serving as a red flag for travelers still taking a more cautious approach.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Confusion, fear behind reluctance to take Covid booster, says experts

With only 4.64 lakh people taking their third Covid jab since April 10, Indians could be grappling with vaccine fatigue, a reluctance to take a booster shot that experts attribute to a combination of fear, confusion and misinformation.As India's Covid graph inches upwards, not enough people are getting their booster shots. Among the reasons for the apparent lethargy are the fear of adverse effects, the view that Covid is now a mild infection and doubts over whether a precaution dose is indeed useful, said scientists, public health experts and industry insiders. According to virologist Dr T Jacob John, vaccine fatigue has set in, also because the "cacophony of new experts" has been confusing.
26th Apr 2022 - Business Standard

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Shanghai's Covid Experience May Affect How the Rest of China Sees the Pandemic

In recent days, the censorship machine within WeChat has come out. Last weekend, its biggest guns were aimed at a short six-minute clip called the “Voices of April.” It was a simple video showing the city skyline, with audio snippets of officials’ comments at press conferences and residents’ pleas for help. It seems to have touched on a sore subject: the overstretched Shanghai public health system. However, it was not something so sensational it deserved instantaneous censorship. When my friends tried to circumvent WeChat’s censor and share the video via various cloud services, their links were quickly blocked. By Saturday afternoon, people became so frustrated they started posting the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the musical Les Miserables. That got censored, too. But the word was out. And it matters that it is out in Shanghai. The city is not Xian, or northeastern Jilin province where local governments could just bury discontent. Shanghai is China’s commercial and cultural hub; its 25 million residents include native Shanghainese and more than 10 million from all over China. These are constantly in touch with their hometowns.
25th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Eid al-Fitr events return to Birmingham after Covid-19 restrictions lifted

Large-scale celebrations at the end of Ramadan are returning to Birmingham after a two-year break caused by the pandemic. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and fasting. Before Covid-19 restrictions, an event in Birmingham's Small Heath park was among the largest in Europe, regularly attracting more than 60,000 people. It returns at the beginning of May, albeit with a reduced 20,000 capacity, with public health measures in place. Celebrations will also be held at Edgbaston Stadium for the first time. "Eid is a joyous occasion, where Muslims come together to celebrate, spend time with family and worship as a community," project manager Saleem Ahmed said.
25th Apr 2022 - BBC News

What science journalism can't tell us about Covid-19 deaths

In the first piece of science journalism I ever wrote, I compared deciphering the effects of climate change to baking a cake. I was a college sophomore. This was homework. We were to read a study and then find an analogy for it, transforming what we found dizzying and technical into something easily imaginable. In my hands, an existential threat became dessert. I don’t remember exactly why I thought that computer models showing possible futures for an ocean inlet were best conveyed through recipes and increments of butter. But I do remember what (I think) the professor wanted us to remember: When an idea is hard to grasp — too big, too small, too abstruse, too abstract — liken it to something else. It’s so fundamental it’s almost a cliché, so prevalent it’s almost unnoticeable. We describe genes as blueprints, receptors and viruses as locks and keys. We take the measure of galaxies in celestial football fields.
25th Apr 2022 - STAT News

Panic buying in Beijing as district starts mass COVID testing

Beijing residents snapped up food and other supplies as the city's biggest district began mass COVID-19 testing of all residents on Monday, prompting fears of a Shanghai-style lockdown after dozens of cases in the capital in recent days. Authorities in Chaoyang, home to 3.45 million people, late on Sunday ordered residents and those who work there to be tested three times this week as Beijing warned the virus had "stealthily" spread in the city for about a week before being detected.
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters

OCA confident Asian Games will go ahead in September - official

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has requested an update from Beijing on the COVID-19 situation in China but remains confident the Asian Games will go ahead in Hangzhou in September, a senior official at the body told Reuters on Monday. The 19th edition of the multi-sports Games, second in size only to the Summer Olympics, is scheduled to take place from Sept. 10-25 in the capital of Zhejiang province, some 175 kilometres southwest of Shanghai. A media report last week quoted the OCA's director-general as saying that there was a possibility the Games would have to be postponed because of the month-long COVID-19 lockdown in China's financial capital
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Shanghai, China Covid Lockdown: Residents Complain Online

Chinese internet users rallied to outwit government censors on a video documenting weeks of lockdown in Shanghai, flooding social media feeds as frustration continued to escalate over strict Covid Zero rules. The six-minute video titled “The Sound of April” was posted on Friday and soon got censored as it went viral. Chinese Wechat users then uploaded the film from different accounts and in various forms including upside-down and mirrored versions until late night, as newly-uploaded clips were also removed. The film, on a slowly-moving frame of overhead shots of the city in black-and-white, spliced in sound clips from government press briefings, voice call recordings seeking medical help and information transparency, hungry and frustrated residents chanting in unison for government rations, and chats between neighbors and ordinary people helping each other out.
24th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Rio's Carnival parade returns after long pandemic hiatus

Colorful floats and flamboyant dancers are delighting tens of thousands jammed into Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Sambadrome, putting on a delayed Carnival celebration after the pandemic halted the dazzling displays. Rio de Janeiro’s top samba schools began strutting their stuff late Friday, which was the first evening of the two-night spectacle. Ketula Melo, 38, a muse in the Imperatriz Leopoldinense school dressed as the Iemanja deity of Afro-Brazilian religions, was thrilled to be back at the Sambadrome. “These two years were horrible. Now we can be happy again,” Melo said as she was about to enter Friday night wearing a black and white costume made of shells that barely covered her body.
24th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Rise in Hong Kong suicides during Covid should spark action

In late February, the number of suicides in Hong Kong began to rise; at the peak on March 23, four people committed suicide every day on a seven-day rolling average basis. Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, noted that if the trend continued, the number of suicide cases this year could hit 1,400, exceeding the historical peak during the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic 19 years ago when 1,264 people, or 18.8 per 100,000 people, took their own lives. A government survey in 2010-13 estimated that one in seven Hongkongers aged 16 to 75 suffers from anxiety, depression or other mood disorders. Ageing can also have a negative impact on mental health.
23rd Apr 2022 - South China Morning Post

Judge who fired employee for not getting vaccinated did not abuse power - ruling

A bankruptcy judge who fired an employee who was denied a religious exemption from a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement did not engage in discrimination or an abuse of power, a federal appeals court judge ruled. Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Chagares in a newly released opinion dismissed a complaint the ex-employee filed with the Judicial Council of the 3rd Circuit in a rare judicial misconduct case over a federal court employee vaccine requirement. The decision is dated Feb. 22 but was only released this week. As is typical with cases filed under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act, the ruling did not identify the complainant, judge or even court to which it pertains.
23rd Apr 2022 - Reuters

Portugal becomes first EU country to give fast-track entry to Britons since Brexit in move that could spark a 'domino effect'

Is seen as bid to lure Britons away from rival destinations such as Spain and Italy British passports must now be checked manually, increasing waiting times But passport e-gate lanes were set up for Britons at Portugal airports this week
21st Apr 2022 - Daily Mail

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Air pollution increases risk of Covid infection among young adults, study suggests

Air pollution heightens the risk of Covid-19 infection among young adults, a new study suggests. Previous studies have shown that areas of poor air quality have more cases of Covid-19, pointing to a potential link between the virus and rates of infection. The researchers merged a population-based project which has followed more than 4,000 participants in Stockholm from birth with Sweden’s national communicable disease registry, SmiNet. They identified 425 people who had tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 between May 2020 and the end of March 2021. The average age of the participants was 26, and 54 per cent were women.
21st Apr 2022 - The Independent

Hong Kong Disney opens as COVID eases; Shanghai deaths rise

Hong Kong relaxed pandemic restrictions on Thursday, with Disneyland and museums reopening and nighttime restaurant dining resuming as the city’s worst COVID-19 outbreak appears to be fading. Enthusiastic visitors ran into Disneyland the moment the gates opened after a three-month closure. Popular theme parks were ordered to close in January as Hong Kong’s fifth wave of the coronavirus took hold. Nearly 1.2 million people in the city of 7.4 million were infected in less than four months, and nearly 9,000 have died.
21st Apr 2022 - Associated Press

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Moderna and Pfizer urged to share vaccine technology with developing world

Pressure is mounting on Moderna and Pfizer to share vaccine technology with the developing world after the two biggest proxy advisers lent support to shareholder resolutions. Institutional Shareholder Services has recommended that investors vote in favour of proposals by Oxfam America that would compel Moderna and Pfizer to commission third-party reports about transferring their vaccine technology. The drive to expand access to the well-performing mRNA vaccines comes as Moderna unveiled strong trial results for a new “bivalent” vaccine. Oxfam is lobbying to create a more equal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, arguing that not sharing the IP and technical knowhow creates reputational risks and could slow the end of the pandemic.
20th Apr 2022 - Financial Times

US supreme court rules against air force officer who refused Covid vaccine

The supreme court has allowed the US Department of Defense to take disciplinary action against an air force lieutenant colonel who refuses to get a Covid-19 vaccine. In a brief, two-sentence ruling on Monday, a majority of the court sided with the Pentagon. Three justices in the conservative majority – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch – dissented. The ruling was merely the court’s latest on challenges to Covid-19 vaccine mandates. In January, the court blocked a Biden administration requirement that employees of large businesses be vaccinated and wear masks on the job.
20th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

For China investors, COVID lockdowns are the clear and present danger

Prolonged lockdowns in Shanghai, as China doubles down on its zero-COVID policy, have become the predominant risk to its economy and markets, forcing money managers to cut holdings or turn defensive on stocks. Global fund managers such as Pictet Wealth Management and Principal Global Investors and China-focused managers such as MegaTrust Investment and Water Wisdom Asset Management point to the worrying toll that weeks of tough anti-virus measures in many major cities have taken on people and businesses. "The city-wide lockdown in Shanghai is a big deal," said Qi Wang, chief executive officer of MegaTrust Investment (HK).
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Heads accuse Government of 'ignoring Covid' by ending publication of school coronavirus data

Headteachers have criticised the Government for its “deeply troubling and ill-advised” decision to stop publishing data on the number of school absences in England linked to Covid-19. The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said the move appeared to be part of an “ignoring Covid plan” for schools. The Department for Education (DfE) published its fortnightly absence statistics for state schools in England today. Figures for 7 April showed that in schools that had not broken up for Easter, attendance stood at 89.1 per cent, compared to 88.6 per cent on 31 March.
19th Apr 2022 - iNews

COVID-19 vaccines go to waste as rollout stalls

Australian medical professionals are speaking out about mass amounts of COVID-19 vaccine wastage, calling for more government direction in donating the vaccines to developing countries. It comes as GPs are reportedly throwing out thousands of expired vaccines due to dwindling demand. More than 95 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 have received two doses, and about 300,000 vaccines are administered nationally each week.
19th Apr 2022 - 9News.com.au

Hong Kong zero-COVID policies create mountains of plastic waste

Hong Kong arrivals meet plastic everywhere in quarantine hotels: Remote controls are wrapped in cellophane, pillows are encased in plastic bags, food comes with plastic cutlery. Hong Kong’s strict quarantine policies - intended to halt COVID-19 at the border and in the community - have been criticised for damaging the economy and mental health. Environmentalists say the policies are also hurting the environment by generating excess waste.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Latino Mortality Rate Spiked 48% in Los Angeles During Covid

The death rate of Latinos in Los Angeles rose dramatically more than any other ethnic group during the Covid-19 pandemic. Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage rate of deaths for any reason for Latinos spiked 48%, data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health show. Just under half of the city’s population is of Hispanic or Latino descent, according to Census data. While all ethnic groups suffered more than usual deaths during the first year of the pandemic, only the Latino population saw the trend continue the following year. The overall two year mortality-rate for Black people increased 23% and 22% for Asian people, consistent with the broader county statistics. The overall mortality rate for White residents rose by 7% in the two-year span. Black residents in Los Angeles, who comprise just under 9% of the population, still have the highest death rate of any group.
14th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

WHO: COVID cases, deaths in Africa drop to lowest levels yet

The number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Africa have dropped to their lowest levels since the pandemic began, marking the longest decline yet seen in the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In a statement on Thursday, the U.N. health agency said COVID-19 infections due to the omicron surge had “tanked” from a peak of more than 308,000 weekly cases to fewer than 20,000 last week. Cases and deaths fell by 29% and 37% respectively in the last week; deaths decreased to 239 from the previous week. “This low level of infection has not been seen since April 2020 in the early stages of the pandemic in Africa,” WHO said, noting that no country in the region is currently seeing an increase of COVID-19 cases.
14th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

U.S. CDC lifts COVID 'Do Not Travel' recommendations on about 90 countries

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday it had dropped its "Do Not Travel" COVID-19 recommendations for about 90 international destinations. Last week, the CDC said it was revising its travel recommendations and said it would its reserve Level 4 travel health notices "for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts." The countries and other regions dropped to "Level 3: High," which still discourages travel by unvaccinated Americans, include the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Turkey, Australia, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Russia.
18th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Officials Adopt New Message on Covid-19 Behaviors: It’s Your Call

In the latest phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, federal and local officials are telling people to decide for themselves how best to protect against the virus. Health officials are leaving it up to people to assess if they need booster shots, whether to wear a mask and how long to isolate after a positive test. Businesses, schools and other entities are scaling back specific guidelines as they prepare for a return to normal. The question of when older adults should get a second vaccine booster is the latest example of the government shifting decisions from broad-based community outreach to personal choice.
18th Apr 2022 - Wall Street Journal

Guatemala: As COVID misinformation spreads, vaccine doses expire

On a recent afternoon, the COVID-19 vaccination centre in the heart of the Indigenous Mayan town of Santiago Atitlan was quiet. The health centre had a vaccine supply, but demand was low. The lack of coordination of a Guatemalan government-led campaign to overcome vaccine hesitancy has resulted in the expiration of millions of doses across the country this year, critics have said, as more than half of the population remains unvaccinated. According to Juan Manuel Ramirez, an evangelical preacher in Santiago Atitlan, some community members have taken the vaccine, knowing it helps to protect against severe disease. But others have subscribed to conspiracy theories about its potential dangers. “There are other people who also have other types of thoughts, such as that the vaccine comes with a chip,” he told Al Jazeera. “Because of that, there is uncertainty, and therefore they have not been vaccinated. Earlier this month, approximately 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States expired. In March, the same fate befell nearly three million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, worth more than $33m. And by the end of June, more than two million doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines will also expire.
14th Apr 2022 - AlJazeera English

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Delta Air Lines drops surcharge for unvaccinated employees

Delta Air Lines has dropped a $200 per month surcharge that it had been levying against unvaccinated employees who were on the company’s health plan. “We have dropped as of this month the additional insurance surcharge given the fact that we really do believe that the pandemic has moved to a seasonal virus,” CEO Ed Bastian said on a call Wednesday with analysts and reporters. “Any employees that haven’t been vaccinated will not be paying extra insurance costs going forward.” U.S. airlines tried different approaches to get employees vaccinated against COVID-19, including a mandate by United Airlines, which ended up dismissing about 200 employees. Delta was the only one to impose an insurance surcharge, and it credited the move with helping get more than 90% of its U.S.-based workers vaccinated.
13th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

COVID-19: Emotions released as New Zealand eases border restrictions for first time in two years

Border restrictions for New Zealand have eased, with residents, visa holders and Australians now able to enter quarantine-free after two years. Other travellers will be allowed easy access from next month.
13th Apr 2022 - Sky News

Covid Cancellations Hit Broadway as BA.2 Variant Spreads

Covid is wreaking havoc on stage, again. Broadway’s “Plaza Suite” has extended its run to allow for ticket rescheduling after stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick both tested positive. It was put on pause through April 13. “Americano” will resume April 18 and has set a new opening night for May 1. Performances of “At The Wedding” will resume April 18, with “Paradise Square” returning April 19. “A Strange Loop” pushed its opening to April 14. And “Heartland” canceled all remaining performances after Covid spread throughout its company.
13th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

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Shanghai Factory Closures Mount as Covid-19 Lockdowns Hit Supply Chains

More factories in and around Shanghai, including two run by an Apple Inc.supplier, are halting production because of extended Covid-19 lockdowns in the region, adding to pressure on the global supply chain. Analysts said Shanghai-area manufacturers were having more trouble getting parts delivered because China’s restrictions on movement are making it difficult for trucks to enter the region. That means some factories can’t operate normally even if they manage to keep workers on the job. Pegatron Corp., a major assembler of Apple products, said Tuesday it has temporarily suspended production at factories in Shanghai and nearby Jiangsu province in compliance with local government requirements.
12th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Chinese Stockpile Food as Covid-19 Concerns Ripple Out From Shanghai

As Shanghai battles the country’s worst Covid-19 outbreak in two years, people across the rest of China are stockpiling necessities as they brace for the prospect of similar lockdowns. In Beijing, where some residential districts have been closed in recent weeks as infections have been discovered, supermarket shelves in some parts of the city have been picked clean of toilet paper, canned foods, instant noodles and rice in recent days. In Suzhou, an industrial hub roughly two hours’ drive west of Shanghai, residents swarmed supermarkets to fill their grocery baskets with instant noodles and other food on Tuesday morning, hours after local officials said they would conduct districtwide testing in one section of the city.
12th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Shanghai patients crowdsource medical help during COVID lockdown

Shanghai residents have turned online for grassroots help on medical treatment as the city's tough COVID-19 curbs limit access to healthcare and fuel frustration and anxiety. While the city of 25 million has used lockdowns and extensive testing to fight the disease, those suffering from other medical conditions are posting requests for help in mutual-help platforms and social media chat groups. One woman said she sought help online as her worry grew over the risk of infection to her paralysed mother from a urinary catheter used for about a month.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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States of Covid Performance

More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to draw some conclusions about government policy and results. The most comprehensive comparative study we’ve seen to date was published last week as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and it deserves wide attention. The authors are University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan and Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. They compare Covid outcomes in the 50 states and District of Columbia based on three variables: the economy, education and mortality. It’s a revealing study that belies much of the conventional medical and media wisdom during the pandemic, especially in its first year when severe lockdowns were described as the best, and the only moral, policy.
11th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

The BA.2 Variant Is Spreading. Do You Need to Worry?

You’re going to the movies and eating indoors. Your kid stopped wearing a mask to school; you no longer wear one to work. After two years of Covid precautions, you finally feel normal again. Well, mostly. BA.2—a subvariant of the Omicron variant that tore through the U.S. this winter—is spreading. It’s now the dominant variant throughout the country and has triggered recent surges in Europe. If you live somewhere where local statistics suggest cases are rising but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map still shades your county low-risk green, it can be tough to figure out what to do. So, do you need to worry? When? And how do you know what to look for?
11th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Thousands rally in LA to oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Thousands of people including truckers and firefighters from across the country gathered Sunday outside Los Angeles City Hall to protest vaccination mandates designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The crowd gathered at Grand Park to hear speakers and performers, while big-rig trucks from the “People’s Convoy” were parked on nearby streets. Members of the convoy jammed traffic during a Washington, D.C., protest earlier this year. The peaceful crowd gathered to hear speakers and singers and was similar to a rally held at the same spot last year and to others staged around the country. California battled a deadly winter coronavirus surge linked to the omicron variant but began easing masking and vaccination requirements this year as caseloads and hospitalization rates fell, which public health officials largely attributed to widespread vaccination and other safety measures.
10th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

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Shanghai jumps into group buying to stay fed during COVID lockdown

When Shanghai first went into full COVID-19 lockdown last week, Ping Mai wasn't expecting she'd become her housing compound's unofficial broker for its meat supply. With her and her neighbours stuck at home and struggling to buy food amid lockdown curbs that have shuttered stores and dramatically reduced the number of couriers, she is among millions that are trying to figure out how to buy fresh supplies on a daily basis. One popular solution has been community group-buying, which sees residents at the same address band together to bulk buy groceries or meals from suppliers or restaurants, placing single orders that could add up to thousands of dollars.
9th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Women in healthcare and life sciences: The ongoing stress of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a seismic shift in the workforce, with a specific impact on women. Millions of Americans have resigned from their jobs, and many have cited unmanageable workloads or a need to care for family as important factors in their decision. The healthcare sector is no exception. Our most recent analysis is based on the seventh annual Women in the Workplace data (for 2021), by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org. That research looks at drop-offs in female representation, promotion rates, and external hiring at the highest levels in healthcare; at the barriers to advancement for women of color and at threats to recent gains. In many cases, these outcomes are correlated with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including reports of increased responsibilities at home and higher levels of burnout.
9th Apr 2022 - McKinsey

Can US tenants cope with COVID eviction protections ending?

Housing rights campaigner Rob Robinson and Legal Aid’s Beth Mellen on the housing crisis in the United States. “Once the courts open up, we will see a rush to evict,” says housing rights campaigner Rob Robinson. America’s federal moratorium on evictions ended in August last year and, with COVID housing protections almost all gone, the expected wave of evictions will likely worsen the country’s homelessness crisis. Robinson himself was unhoused for two years and eventually “found his way out”. But he warns against the narrative that unhoused people should be able to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”.
9th Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English

UK airport warns COVID-related delays could last months

A major British airport warned passengers on Friday to expect the delays plaguing travel to continue for months, as the U.K. aviation regulator told the country’s air industry to shape up after weeks of canceled flights and long airport queues. The head of Manchester Airport in northwest England said passengers could face waits of up to 90 minutes to get through security “over the next few months.” Travelers in Britain have suffered days of delays during the current Easter school holiday break, with British Airways and easyJet canceling hundreds of flights because of coronavirus-related staff absences, and long lines building at airport check-in, security and baggage points.
9th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

'Get used to it': Outbreaks give taste of living with virus

The U.S. is getting a first glimpse of what it’s like to experience COVID-19 outbreaks during this new phase of living with the virus, and the roster of the newly infected is studded with stars. Cabinet members, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Broadway actors and the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut have all tested positive. Outbreaks at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University are bringing back mask requirements to those campuses as officials seek out quarantine space. The known infections likely reveal only the tip of the iceberg — with actors and politicians regularly tested at work. Official case figures are certain to be vast undercounts of how widely the virus is circulating because of home testing and mildly sick not bothering to test at all.
9th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

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Japan arrests four of 'QAnon'-style group for Covid-19 vaccine protest: Media

Four members of a group said to be a Japanese version of QAnon, which has frequently protested against Covid-19 vaccinations, were arrested on Thursday (April 7) for intruding on a clinic where vaccinations were taking place, media reports said. Japan is conducting booster shots against the virus that causes Covid-19, with about 44 per cent of the population having received a third dose. About 80 per cent of the general public have had the first two shots. Four members of "YamatoQ," a version of the US QAnon group, were arrested on charges they intruded into a Tokyo clinic, police were quoted by media as saying. The group's website says vaccines are untested and "a number" of people have died after receiving them. It also lists anti-vaccine protests around Japan.
7th Apr 2022 - The Straits Times

As Queensland's COVID-19 vaccine mandates ease in social settings, they still apply to many workers

In Queensland, changes from 14 April will allow unvaccinated people to go to restaurants, clubs, museums, and stadiums. Vaccine mandates will remain for the health sector, prisons, schools and childcare centres. According to Acting Premier Cameron Dick there is not going to be any move made to get rid of vaccine mandates entirely at this stage. "We will take the advice of the Chief Health Officer and of course that's also the agreed position I understand it nationally," he said. Infectious diseases physician Dr Paul Griffin said easing the mandates in certain settings makes sense.
7th Apr 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Trump's endorsement of Covid-19 vaccines increased uptake in counties with low vaccination rates

Watching an ad in which former President Donald Trump promoted Covid-19 vaccines was linked to increased vaccinations in US counties with low immunization rates, according to a new study. The study was released Monday as a working paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research that has not yet been peer-reviewed. Researchers created a 27-second ad designed to serve as a public service announcement from Trump encouraging people to get vaccinated. Through a randomized control trial, the ad was featured on different YouTube channels across more than 1,000 counties with populations of less than 1 million and in which more than half of the population was still unvaccinated. When compared to counties that did not receive the ads, those that did receive the ads had more than 100 additional vaccinations on average. In total, treatment counties received an estimated 104,036 more vaccines than control counties. The analysis also found that for every 1,000 more ads presented, there were nearly nine additional vaccinations, on average, per county.
7th Apr 2022 - CNN

They got illicit Covid-19 vaccine doses -- and say they'd do it again in a heartbeat

Last July, Andrea Ogg stood outside a pharmacy in Castle Rock, Colorado, fully prepared to lie to get herself a Covid-19 vaccine. Her stomach knotted in anxiety, Ogg was ready to say she was getting her first shot when actually she was getting her third. At the time, government rules didn't allow for third shots, even for immune-compromised people like her who failed to develop antibodies after two doses. "I was very nervous, because I am typically an honest person, but I wasn't going to tell them the truth if they asked me. There was just no way," said Ogg, 55, who was born with a cardiac defect and takes medicine to suppress her immune system so she won't reject the heart transplant she received four years ago.
7th Apr 2022 - CNN

Shanghai Calls on China Communist Party Members to Fight Covid

China’s Communist Party issued a rare call imploring rank-and-file members to help contain the coronavirus in Shanghai, showing the strain the locked-down financial hub is under as its worst outbreak to date spreads. “We must dare to draw our swords and fight against all kinds of behaviors that interfere with and undermine the overall situation of the fight against the epidemic,” the top party branch in Shanghai wrote to members late Wednesday, the same day the number of new cases in the city rose to more than 19,900. “Wherever there is a need, there must be a Communist Party member,” it added in the open letter posted on an official government social media account.
7th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Naturopathic doctor admits selling fake COVID vaccine cards

A naturopathic doctor in Northern California on Wednesday pleaded guilty to selling fake COVID-19 immunization treatments and hundreds of fraudulent vaccination cards that made it seem like customers received Moderna vaccines, federal prosecutors said. Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, plead guilty in federal court in San Francisco to one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. The case was the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards for COVID-19, the department said. Mazi provided fake CDC vaccination cards for COVID-19 to at least 200 people with instructions on how to complete the cards to make them look like they had received a Moderna vaccine, federal prosecutors said.
6th Apr 2022 - The Asssociated Press

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Covid-19 Hits Broadway Once More, Leading to Cancellations, Changes

Covid is hitting Broadway again. Several highly anticipated shows have been affected by breakthrough cases of Covid-19, as Broadway looks to make up for pandemic losses with big names and longtime favorites lighting up the Great White Way. “Macbeth,” starring Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga and directed by Sam Gold, said Tuesday it was canceling shows through Saturday at 8 p.m. ET because of “a limited number of positive COVID test results within the company.” Mr. Craig, who is returning to the stage for the first time in six years, tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
6th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Shanghai says it will make some exceptions in COVID children separation policy

Guardians of children with special needs who are infected with COVID can apply to escort them, a Shanghai city official said on Wednesday, pointing to a relaxation of a child-separation policy that has triggered widespread public anger. The city has been separating COVID-positive children from their parents, citing epidemic prevention measures. China's elimination strategy against COVID sees it test, trace and centrally quarantine all cases. In the face of rising public criticism, the government said on Monday it would allow children to be accompanied by their parents if the parents were also infected, but that they would still separate them if they were not.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters

China's services sector activity hit hard by Omicron surge - Caixin PMI

Activity in China's services sector contracted at the sharpest pace in two years in March as a surge in coronavirus cases restricted mobility and weighed on demand, a private sector survey showed on Wednesday. The Caixin services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) dived to 42.0 in March from 50.2 in February, dropping below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. The reading indicates the sharpest activity decline since the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020. The survey, which focuses more on small firms in coastal regions, tallied with an official survey, which also showed deterioration in the services sector
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Hit by staff shortages, airlines and airports struggle with travel recovery

Thousands of holidaymakers have seen their Easter getaways disrupted or cancelled because airlines and airports do not have enough staff to meet the recovery in demand as pandemic restrictions are eased in Europe. High rates of COVID-19 in Britain have caused staff absences for airlines and airports that were already struggling to recruit after workers deserted the industry during the pandemic. Low-cost carrier easyJet was one of the worst affected, saying it cancelled around 60 UK flights on Tuesday and expected to pull a similar number in the coming days.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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EasyJet cancels 100 flights due to Covid absences

British travellers are facing Easter holiday disruption after airlines cancelled more than 120 flights and Eurotunnel warned of three hour delays. Easyjet and British Airways blamed staff absences from Covid for cancellations, while Eurotunnel said a broken down train caused delays. Some schools have broken up for Easter - the first holiday since the end of the pandemic travel restrictions. That's led to rising demand and frustration for holidaymakers. Flight cancellations were down to a combination of factors which had come together in "a perfect storm", Simon Calder, travel correspondent at The Independent, told the BBC. "We have got very high levels of Covid in the nation and that is affecting the transport industry. But there are also more underlying problems which go back to the start of Covid," he said.
4th Apr 2022 - BBC News

Covid-19: Vaccine passes gone by midnight – but businesses can keep using them

Four months after becoming the entry key to many events, bars and restaurants, gyms, hairdressers, sports and faith-based gatherings, vaccines passes will soon be optional for hosts. My Vaccine Pass – brought in as part of the Government's Covid-19 protection framework – will no longer be required from 11.59pm Monday, although businesses will still be able to use the system if they want. Those supplying basic needs, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, public transport, schools and health services, were exempt, but were a legal requirement for many other close-proximity businesses. Also from 11.59pm Monday, some government vaccine mandates for workers will be removed. Those still covered include health and disability sector workers, including aged-care workers, along with prison staff and border and MIQ workers.
4th Apr 2022 - Stuff.co.nz

Covid Vaccines for Kids Are Dividing Divorced Parents

In late 2021, Adele Grote, a divorced mother of two in Minneapolis, took her children to a vaccination clinic at the Mall of America. But when her 13-year-old daughter called her father to let him know they were getting the shot, Ms. Grote knew they would have to leave without it. Just over a quarter of children between ages 5 and 11 in the United States are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database; among older kids, ages 12 to 17, the rate is 59 percent. For parents who have yet to vaccinate their children, the reasons for hesitation vary.
4th Apr 2022 - The New York Times

Vaccine hesitancy: What causes it, what can change it? - study

In the time since the coronavirus vaccine has been made available to the public, there have been many instances of hesitancy, reluctance, and even refusal to be vaccinated. A new study published by the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research has examined this phenomenon and discovered that there are several distinct phases of vaccine hesitancy, all presenting in different ways. The peer-reviewed study entitled “Understanding the phases of vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic” examines the distinct categories under which vaccine-hesitant people fall and the way in which socio-economic background, circumstances, and the changing phases of the pandemic itself have affected the reluctance some show when it comes to the vaccine.
4th Apr 2022 - The Jerusalem Post

Hong Kong university entrance exams ‘to go ahead as scheduled’ as coronavirus infections continue to fall

Special centres will be set up at the Hong Kong government’s isolation facility at Penny’s Bay for university entrance exam candidates who are close contacts of Covid-19 patients or infected themselves, with the annual assessments scheduled to start from April 22. Education authorities on Monday said candidates who chose to sit the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams at the special centres would then have to remain at the facility for a full stint in quarantine, which lasts at least seven days, depending on their vaccination status
4th Apr 2022 - South China Morning Post

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Man in Germany Gets 90 Covid Shots to Sell Forged Passes

A 60-year-old man allegedly had himself vaccinated against COVID-19 dozens of times in Germany in order to sell forged vaccination cards with real vaccine batch numbers to people not wanting to get vaccinated themselves. The man from the eastern Germany city of Magdeburg, whose name was not released in line with German privacy rules, is said to have received up to 90 shots against COVID-19 at vaccination centers in the eastern state of Saxony for months until criminal police caught him this month, the German news agency dpa reported Sunday. The suspect was not detained but is under investigation for unauthorized issuance of vaccination cards and document forgery, dpa reported.
3rd Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Indonesia greets Ramadan with mass prayer as COVID curbs ease

The world's largest Muslim-majority nation of Indonesia welcomed the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan with a mass prayer at Jakarta's grand mosque on Saturday, with plateauing coronavirus cases allowing for eased restrictions this year. Thousands gathered after dusk at Istiqlal mosque in the Indonesian capital to join the Tarawih prayer, special prayers performed only during the month of Ramadan, donning masks and using check-in apps to take part in the event. For the past two years Indonesia has grappled with one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Asia, but this Ramadan, traditionally a time of community, reflection and prayer, cases have eased enough to allow for mass gatherings.
3rd Apr 2022 - Reuters

Why We Are Covid Broke

Washington dysfunction is so comprehensive, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. So there is usefulness in a recent White House missive to Congress—which in a few short pages neatly sums up the dishonesty and malpractice of today’s Beltway. “Dear Madame Speaker,” begins the March 15 letter, devoted to the topic of Covid poverty. “We are notifying you of the following actions necessitated by the lack of critical funding.” Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and White House Covid coordinator Jeffrey Zients explain that unless Congress supplies tens of billions more in taxpayer dollars, the federal government will no longer be able to “secure sufficient booster doses,” will end “the purchase of monoclonal antibody treatments,” will halt “critical testing,” and will scale back “preventive treatments for the immunocompromised.”
2nd Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Meta no longer requiring COVID booster shots for staff in U.S. offices

Facebook-owner Meta is no longer requiring employees to have COVID-19 boosters to enter its offices in the United States, a company spokesperson said on Friday. The social media company previously said that all workers returning to the office would have to present proof of their booster jabs, while the company monitored the Omicron variant situation. "We updated our requirements in early March to align with CDC guidance, and now COVID-19 boosters are no longer required for entry, though strongly recommended. The primary vaccination requirement (1- or 2-shot series) remains in place," said Meta spokesperson Tracy Clayton.
1st Apr 2022 - Reuters

U.S. to end COVID order blocking asylum seekers at border with Mexico

The United States will end a sweeping, pandemic-related expulsion policy that has effectively closed down the U.S. asylum system at the border with Mexico, U.S. health officials said on Friday, arguing it was no longer needed to protect public health. The Title 42 order will remain in effect until May 23 to allow border officials time to prepare for its termination and to ramp up COVID-19 vaccines for arriving migrants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a 30-page order.
1st Apr 2022 - Reuters

COVID weighing less and less on the U.S. job market

The coronavirus pandemic's grip on the U.S. job market notably loosened in March, two years after a state of emergency was declared, as the number of people homebound by COVID-19 concerns hit a new low and fewer people reported having to work remotely. In all, the government's benchmark monthly nonfarm payrolls report out Friday showed that by several metrics - including the total number of unemployed dropping below 6 million and a 3.6% unemployment rate - the U.S. job market had all but recovered from the devastating hit delivered in the first two months of the pandemic when 22 million people were thrown out of work
1st Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Groups urge Biden to reject potential WTO 'concept' on COVID-19 vaccine barriers

Doctors without Borders, Oxfam America, Amnesty International and other top civil society groups on Wednesday urged US President Joe Biden to reject a potential deal on COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights at the World Trade Organization. In a letter, the groups called the proposal a "rehash" of a European Union position that fell far short of the rights waiver Biden backed in May 2021 to speed vaccines to developing countries.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID-19: How can I get lateral flow tests from Friday and how much do they cost?

In England, the majority of people who want to be tested for COVID-19 will have to pay for their own lateral flow tests from this Friday under new plans put forward by ministers. The government has announced who will be eligible for free tests when free universal testing in England comes to an end. People have been discouraged from ordering packs of lateral flow tests (LFTs) from the government website in a last-minute scramble to get hold of them by 1 April.
31st Mar 2022 - Sky News

U.S. CDC scraps COVID warning for cruise travel after 2 years

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday removed its COVID-19 notice against cruise travel, around two years after introducing a warning scale showing the level of coronavirus transmission risk on cruise ships. The move offers a shot of hope to major U.S. cruise operators such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise that have struggled to bring in revenue since the pandemic started.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters

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'We demand an explanation!' Shanghai residents vent COVID lockdown irritation

Frustrated and locked down, residents of Shanghai have taken to social media to vent, questioning the practicality of persisting with China's zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19 in its most populous city. In the home to 26 million people, videos and images of crowded quarantine centres were shared as authorities extended lockdown from the east of the city to parts of the west, posting calls for help with medical treatment and purchasing food. One video widely shared on Chinese social media featured an angry exchange between a group of patients and hazmat suit-clad healthcare workers at the vast Shanghai World Expo Center - temporarily converted into a giant quarantine facility.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 news: Just 64 per cent are self-isolating in England

Self-isolation rate dropped from 80 per cent to 64 per cent after the legal requirement changed to guidance. Fewer than two-thirds of people who test positive for covid-19 in England are choosing to self-isolate, according to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey. Using the NHS Test and Trace database, 1369 adults in England who tested positive for covid-19 before 24 February, when the legal requirement to self-isolate was dropped, were asked about their behaviour while infected. They were interviewed between 28 February and 8 March, when self-isolation was advised but not legally required. Fewer than two-thirds (64 per cent) said they fully self-isolated, compared with 80 per cent in a similar survey last month.
30th Mar 2022 - New Scientist

Boris should ‘hang his head in shame and quit’ relatives of Covid dead say

Bereaved relatives tearfully called on Boris Johnson to ‘hold his head in shame’ and resign over lockdown-breaking parties in Whitehall. They called for the Prime Minister to stand down as they led a silent procession to Downing Street for coronavirus victims. Hundreds of grief-stricken families gathered at the National Covid Memorial Wall in London on Tuesday to mark its first anniversary and pay tribute to those they lost during the pandemic. Those attending, joined by politicians including Labour MP Afzal Khan and shadow health minister Rosena Allin-Khan, then walked to No 10 to hand in a petition to make the mural permanent.
30th Mar 2022 - Metro on MSN.com

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COVID-19: Less than two-thirds of people self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus, figures show

The number of people self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus has fallen "significantly" since it stopped being a legal requirement - with less than two thirds of those who know they have the virus following government advice, figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) spoke to 1,369 people over 18 who tested positive for coronavirus up to two days before 24 February 2022, when the legal requirement to self isolate for at least five days was removed. The respondents were interviewed between 28 February and 8 March 2022 when self-isolation was advised but not legally required. The survey found 876 respondents (64%) were self-isolating after testing positive for COVID.
29th Mar 2022 - Sky News

‘A slow-moving glacier’: NIH’s sluggish and often opaque efforts to study long Covid draw patient, expert ire

The National Institutes of Health is fumbling its first efforts to study long Covid. Fifteen months ago, Congress showered the agency with a massive $1.2 billion to research the mysterious cases of patients who never fully recover from Covid-19 infections. But so far the NIH has brought in just 3% of the patients it plans to recruit. Critics charge that the NIH’s missteps are even bigger: that it is acting without urgency, that it is taking on vague, open-ended research questions rather than testing out therapies or treatments, and that it is not being fully transparent with patient advocates and researchers.
29th Mar 2022 - Scientific American

Academic on trial for spreading misinformation on Covid vaccines

A professor of clinical pharmacology and a vocal critic of coronavirus containment measures went on trial in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday for disseminating misinformation regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. Aristotle University’s Dimitris Kouvelas was put under investigation and indicted last year after making claims online indicating that a prominent government official’s health problems were a result of his being vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. In these claims, Kouvelas said that former deputy civil protection minister – and one of the top government officials in the fight against the pandemic – Nikos Hardalias should take the National Organization for Medicines (EOF) to task for approving the coronavirus vaccine, which, he indicated, contributed to the heart attack he suffered in August 2021. The academic, who has gained widespread popularity among anti-vaxxers for his outspoken and often vulgar criticism of Covid restrictions and vaccine mandates, was indicted under new legislation aimed at stemming the dissemination of “fake news.”
29th Mar 2022 - Kathimerini English Edition

Premature deaths in elderly due to Covid in England and Wales among worst in the world

Elderly people in England and Wales had the highest rate of premature deaths to Covid-19 among 20 comparable countries, researchers have shown. The study by University of Manchester epidemiologists, published in the Journal of Global Health, reveals 5.78 per cent of the over-90s were lost to the disease. In Sweden the figure was 3.82 per cent, Italy 3.18 per cent, Germany 2.46 per cent and France 2.08 per cent. In the Netherlands, the figure for the over 95s was 3.87 per cent. The high mortality rate was largely due to the failure to stop the virus from sweeping through care homes as older patients were discharged from hospital without being tested. There was a substantial increase in deaths in care homes in England and Wales in the first three months of the pandemic – estimated by other researchers at 79 per cent.
29th Mar 2022 - iNews

Brazil health regulator says time to ease COVID travel restrictions

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa recommended that COVID-19 travel restrictions be eased due to a drop in cases and deaths, requiring only full vaccination and doing away with quarantine for unvaccinated travelers. People entering the country who have not been vaccinated will still need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, but quarantining will be eliminated immediately. Travelers' health declarations used for tracing COVID cases will no longer be required, with immediate effect, while testing for vaccinated travelers will be suspended from May 1, Anvisa said.
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters Canada

GM told workers to sleep in factory during China lockdown: report

General Motors is asking workers to sleep on the floors of its Shanghai factories to keep production going during the city's new COVID-19 lockdown, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. China, which has pursued a zero-COVID strategy throughout the pandemic, is battling several new outbreaks of COVID-19. The city of Shanghai said Sunday it was locking down half of the city from Monday to Friday while it launched a mass COVID-19 testing drive. The other half of the city is to be locked down for the same period starting April 1. While the lockdowns last, China has told companies based in the zone to enforce a "closed-loop" arrangements, whereby workers live and work in a bubble away from the public, Reuters said.
29th Mar 2022 - Business Insider

Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over for Black Americans, report warns

A searing report released Tuesday by the Black Coalition Against COVID details the immense toll the Covid-19 pandemic has taken — and continues to take — on Black communities, and calls for continued vigilance and action to prevent further losses even as the rest of the nation is eager to move on. The report’s authors — physicians and public health and policy experts — note with alarm that even as case rates began to fall sharply across the country earlier this year, the Covid-19 hospitalization rate for Black people was higher than it had been at any time during the pandemic for any racial or ethnic group. For the week ending Jan. 8, 2022, the hospitalization rate for Black Americans was 64 per 100,000 — more than twice the overall rate. Rates for all Americans have since fallen, though they remain much higher for Black people.
29th Mar 2022 - STAT News

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MIT Reinstates SAT, ACT Mandates Many Colleges Dropped During Covid

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is reinstating its standardized testing requirements, citing that most students are now able to access the exams safely. Vaccine availability and an increase in students taking tests at school have alleviated challenges that had made it especially difficult for high-schoolers to sit for the SAT and ACT during the pandemic, MIT said Monday in a statement. Many colleges across the U.S. have made the requirements optional amid ongoing Covid disruptions and concerns that the tests unfairly favor wealthier students. The math component of the exams are especially important in evaluating whether a prospective student will do well at MIT, the college said.
28th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

For red and blue America, a glaring divide in COVID-19 death rates persists 2 years later

Political polarization in the U.S. was evident and intensifying long before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, two years ago. Polling shows that the emergence of the novel coronavirus in 2020 exacerbated the rift, pushing Americans further apart on key pandemic response efforts. Surveys from Pew Research Center, last year, found that in the early months of the pandemic, about 6 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believed the virus was a major threat to the health of the U.S. population, compared to only a third of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. That 26-point gap would ultimately grow to approximately 40 points by the fall, researchers found.
28th Mar 2022 - ABC News

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Pfizer, Moderna and J&J Face Shareholder Pressure to Broaden Covid-19 Vaccine Access

Socially conscious investors and global-health activists are turning to shareholders to press Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson to make more of their shots available to people in poorer countries. Groups including the antipoverty organization Oxfam have succeeded in placing proposals on shareholder proxy ballots that ask drugmakers to do more to widen access to the Covid-19 vaccines, such as exploring the transfer of their technology to other manufacturers. The proxy battles are the latest effort seeking to push Covid-19 vaccine makers to share their technology in order to boost supplies at lower-income countries, after some of the countries asked the World Trade Organization to lift patent restrictions and activists urged the U.S. government to share companies’ vaccine technology with other countries.
27th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Uninsured Americans now to be charged up to $195 per COVID test by some providers: report | TheHill

Several testing providers will no longer provide COVID-19 tests for free to uninsured Americans, even if they are symptomatic, saying they will begin to charge between $100 and $195 dollars for PCR tests, ABC News reported. Quest Diagnostics, which is one of the country's largest COVID-19 testing providers, told ABC News that patients will now be billed $125 per PCR test if they are not on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. Quest has started telling partners and clients that it will no longer be able to reimburse for uninsured claims due to a lack of congressional funding, ABC noted.
27th Mar 2022 - The Hill

Nearly half of foreign businesses in Hong Kong are planning to relocate

Foreign businesses have for decades reaped the benefits of setting up shop in Hong Kong, a historically stable, expat-friendly finance hub at the doorstep of mainland China. But lately, as Beijing has tightened its grip on the former British colony, those firms are increasingly eyeing the exits. Nearly half of all European businesses in Hong Kong are considering relocating in the next year, according to a new report. Companies cite the local government's extremely strict Covid-19 protocols that mirror those on the mainland. Among the firms planning to leave, 25% said they would fully relocate out of Hong Kong in the next 12 months, while 24% plan to relocate at least partially. Only 17% of the companies said they don't have any relocation plans for the next 12 months.
27th Mar 2022 - CNN

Harvard Economist Says Covid Hit Worse by Education Than Gender

While the pandemic disproportionately hurt women in the workforce more than men, the bigger divide was among education levels, according to a new paper by Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin. When restaurants, retailers and other service providers closed, those without college degrees were more likely to lose their jobs. Meantime, many college-educated Americans could continue to work from home. “The pandemic produced both a he- and a she-cession,” Goldin wrote in a report discussed at the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity conference Thursday. “Relative to previous recessions, women have been harder hit. But the largest differences in pandemic effects on employment are found between education groups rather than between genders within educational groups.”
25th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

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Majority of GPs think England Covid restrictions removed too soon

The majority of GPs in England think Covid restrictions should still apply, a Pulse survey has revealed. Speaking to Pulse, GPs said removing restrictions meant difficulties keeping vulnerable people safe, and they expressed particular concern with regards to the scrapping of free Covid testing. More than two-thirds of GPs are also concerned about their own health in light of the lifting of restrictions. Since the end of last month (24 February), fully-vaccinated people and children have not been required to isolate if they develop symptoms of Covid-19 and, from next week (1 April) free testing will be scrapped altogether except for the most vulnerable. However, asked in a Pulse survey to what extent they agreed with the Government’s decision to remove restrictions: Well over half (59%) of GPs said they disagreed and almost a quarter (24%) of GPs said they ‘strongly’ disagreed. Although another quarter (27%) of GPs did agree with scrapping restrictions, only 7.5% ‘strongly’ agreed. Of the respondents, more than two thirds (69%) felt concerned about their own health with the removal of restrictions – 23% of these felt very concerned. Just 31% felt unconcerned.
25th Mar 2022 - Pulse

U.S. airline CEOs urge Biden to lift COVID mask mandate -letter

The chief executives of American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other carriers have urged U.S. President Joe Biden to end a federal mask mandate on airplanes and international pre-departure testing requirements. The airline executives, including the chairman of Southwest Airlines and JetBlue's CEO, said in a letter the restrictions "are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment."
24th Mar 2022 - Reuters

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Indonesia's annual holiday exodus to go ahead this year as COVID cases ease

Indonesia will lift a ban on domestic travel during the Muslim holiday season of Eid al-Fitr in early May, President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday, after banning the annual tradition for two years during the pandemic. The decision to allow the annual exodus after the holy month of Ramadan is the latest in a series of measures aimed at easing COVID-19 restrictions and reviving Southeast Asia's largest economy. Indonesia, a country of 270 million, banned the mass travel known locally as 'mudik' in early 2020 as it scrambled to contain the spread of coronavirus along with the rest of the world.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand sports to welcome back crowds as COVID rules eased

New Zealand sports will welcome full-capacity crowds when COVID-19 rules ease this weekend after a bruising period for revenues. New Zealand capped crowds at 100 people for outdoor events while battling an outbreak of the Omicron variant, but will lift the curbs from Saturday, along with the need for fans to wear masks, the government said on Wednesday. "While Omicron is transmissible the natural ventilation of an outdoor seating reduces the risk," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID vaccine maker Moderna flags Japan ambition with sumo sponsorship

Moderna Inc is sponsoring sumo flags in its first such promotion in Japan, as the COVID-19 vaccine maker seeks to wrestle market share from compatriot Pfizer Inc. The U.S. firm's introduction to the broader Japanese public was set back after some of its doses last year were found to be contaminated, although it has clawed back market share since with the help of a government-endorsed programme. Now, as the government plans a fourth-dose vaccination programme, Moderna is looking to sumo to boost its public appeal as it seeks to expand beyond COVID-19 shots.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters.com

Hong Kong hopes to 'resolve' COVID flight-ban rule as cases ease

Hong Kong is looking to resolve a problem over a ban on airlines which bring in COVID-positive passengers as it eases travel curbs that have sealed off the city for two years, its leader said on Wednesday. The government said this week a ban on flights from nine countries - Canada, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Britain, the United States, France, Australia and the Philippines - would be lifted on April 1 but it was not clear if airlines would face a two-week ban if they bring in infected people, as is currently the case.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

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'Refuse quarantine!': frustrations mount as China replays COVID controls

Article reports that in footage shared on social media last week, a crowd of people in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang bang against the windows of a clothing market as they shout in frustration at the announcement of yet another round of COVID-19 tests. Though the local government quickly urged people not to "spread rumours" about the incident, the response from netizens was immediate. "Refuse quarantine!" said one. "Many people have awoken to the truth," said another. "It's actually over," said a netizen posting on WeChat under the username "Jasmine Tea". "The common cold is more serious than this… The testing agencies want this to go on. The vaccine companies want to inoculate forever."
22nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Covid’s Fifth Wave Shows Us How to Live With the Virus

Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries. Upticks are visible again in France, Italy and the U.K. Infection rates in both Austria and Germany eclipse previous waves of the virus (based on cases per million). China is grappling with new highs in terms of case counts. The U.S. may soon follow. This fifth wave of the virus is likely to be mercifully short-lived in many areas, but the picture varies around the world. This divergence gives us something of a report card on the efficacy of the Covid policies in place.
22nd Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

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Charities call for annual Covid-19 memorial day in recognition of pandemic death toll

In the UK, charities are calling for an annual memorial day ahead of the second anniversary of lockdown this week as Covid cases and hospitalisations continue to rise. Marie Curie is among the charities taking part in a National Day of Reflection on Wednesday to support the millions of people who are grieving, and remembering the family, friends, neighbours and colleagues lost to the virus over the last two years. People can join a minute’s silence at noon or visit a local centre to see a “wall of reflection”, the charity said.
21st Mar 2022 - iNews

Doctors finding hurdles to using pills to treat COVID-19

High-risk COVID-19 patients now have new treatments they can take at home to stay out of the hospital — if doctors get the pills to them fast enough. Health systems around the country are rushing out same-day prescription deliveries. Some clinics have started testing and treating patients in one visit, an initiative that President Joe Biden's administration recently touted. The goal is to get patients started on either Pfizer’s Paxlovid tablets or Merck’s molnupiravir capsules within five days of symptoms appearing. That can prevent people with big health risks from growing sicker and filling up hospitals if another surge develops. But the tight deadline has highlighted several challenges. Some patients are delaying testing, thinking they just had a cold. Others have been unwilling or unable to try the new drugs.
21st Mar 2022 - The Independent

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The Pandemic Is Two Years Old. Baseball’s Vaccination Problem is Just Beginning.

Major League Baseball players have been more reluctant to take the Covid-19 vaccine than their counterparts in any of the other American professional sports. Now that decision could have a significant impact on how the upcoming season unfolds. Because of Canadian border restrictions, unvaccinated players won’t be allowed to enter the country to play against the Toronto Blue Jays. They won’t be paid or receive service time for any games missed because of their vaccination status under the industry’s new labor contract, which the owners and players’ union agreed to last week. The rule will, for the first time, provide a clear glimpse into how many players have declined to take the shots, which have been found to be safe and effective by experts around the world. While the NFL, NBA, NHL and WNBA have all reported that nearly all of their players have been vaccinated, baseball is a different story.
20th Mar 2022 - Wall Street Journal

Parents up in arms against an Ontario school board's move to keep masks on

As students in Canada's most populous province return to mask-free classes after two years on Monday, one Ontario school board is facing backlash for defying the province's decision to drop masks, potentially setting the stage for a clash on a contentious pandemic issue. The mask mandate and other pandemic measures have become a lightning rod in Canada for an anti-government movement, sparking a three-week protest in capital Ottawa last month.
20th Mar 2022 - Reuters

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Doctors urge Boris Johnson to do better on global Covid-19 vaccine drive

More than 130 leading NHS clinicians and several medical bodies have called on the government to step up funding for the global Covid vaccine drive, saying Britain’s failure to do so is condemning poorer nations to an “ongoing pandemic”. In a letter to Boris Johnson, shared with The Independent, they say government must “play a bigger role in achieving the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 70 per cent global vaccination target by July 2022”. Key signatories include the presidents of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of GPs.
17th Mar 2022 - The Independent

WHO says global rise in COVID cases is 'tip of the iceberg'

Figures showing a global rise in COVID-19 cases could herald a much bigger problem as some countries also report a drop in testing rates, the WHO said on Tuesday, warning nations to remain vigilant against the virus. After more than a month of decline, COVID cases started to increase around the world last week, the WHO said, with lockdowns in Asia and China's Jilin province battling to contain an outbreak. A combination of factors was causing the increases, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant and its BA.2 sublineage, and the lifting of public health and social measures, the WHO said.
17th Mar 2022 - Reuters

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Coronavirus: Hong Kong set to run out of coffins within days

Hong Kong is running out of coffins as it fights a devastating surge in coronavirus deaths. Kwok Hoi-bong, president of the Funeral Business Association, said that the city would use up its remaining 300 coffins in the next two to three days. Families would have to delay funeral services if the problem was not be addressed, he added.
16th Mar 2022 - The Times

COVID-19: Most people still taking voluntary precautions to prevent spread of COVID two years into pandemic, ONS survey shows

Two years on from the start of the pandemic, and despite the fact that almost all COVID restrictions have now been lifted, the majority of people are still taking voluntary precautions against infection. According to an ONS attitudes survey released today, most adults report taking at least one preventative measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. Around four-fifths, 81%, of people say they are still frequently washing or sanitising hands, 76% are still wearing face coverings and 57% are avoiding crowded places.
16th Mar 2022 - Sky News

Pets and COVID-19: Experts say vigilance needed but risks small

A pet sneezes, its nose is runny, and it seems sluggish. Could it be a normal pet illness like a cold – which can be caught by dogs and cats from human owners – or could it be COVID-19? It is a question that has sat uncomfortably on the minds of many pet owners throughout the pandemic and was resurrected again in January when authorities in Hong Kong culled hundreds of hamsters and other small animals following an outbreak of the Delta variant traced to a pet shop and warehouse.
16th Mar 2022 - Al Jazeera English

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China’s Covid-19 Surge Shuts Down Plants in Manufacturing Hubs Shenzhen and Changchun

A surge in Covid-19 cases led Chinese manufacturing hubs Shenzhen and Changchun to lock down in recent days, halting production at many electronics and auto factories in the latest threat to the world’s battered supply chain. A number of manufacturers including Foxconn, Technology Group, a major assembler of Apple Inc.’s iPhones, said they were halting operations in Shenzhen in compliance with the local government’s policy. The government placed the city into lockdown for at least a week and said everyone in the city would have to undergo three rounds of testing after 86 new cases of domestic Covid-19 infections were detected Sunday.
15th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

UK to end all COVID-19 travel rules ahead of Easter break

Britain’s government said Monday all remaining coronavirus measures for travelers, including passenger locator forms and the requirement that unvaccinated people be tested for COVID-19 before and after their arrivals, will end Friday to make going on holiday easier for the Easter school vacation. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes will mean people “can travel just like in the good old days.” The passenger locator forms require people to fill in travel details, their address in the U.K. and their vaccination status.
14th Mar 2022 - Associated Press

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War in Ukraine could make the Covid-19 pandemic worse, WHO says

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday it is concerned the war in Ukraine could worsen the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is trying to do more to limit the spread of infectious diseases. Cases in the region are down from the previous week, but there's significant risk there will be more severe disease and death due to low vaccination rates in Ukraine, as well as among the more than two million who've fled the country to surrounding areas, regions also with low vaccination rates. Ukraine's Covid-19 vaccination rate is around 34%, while neighboring Moldova's is around 29%, according to Our World In Data. There have been a total of 791,021 new cases of Covid-19 and 8,012 new deaths in Ukraine and in surrounding countries between March 3 and 9, a WHO situation report published Sunday said. "Unfortunately, this virus will take opportunities to continue to spread," said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on Covid-19, during a Wednesday news briefing. "
14th Mar 2022 - CNN

Coronavirus Daily: A Rural-Urban Vaccine Divide in the US

In President Joe Biden’s National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan there’s a glaring omission: efforts to improve on high levels of vaccine hesitancy in rural parts of the U.S. First-dose vaccination coverage is about 59% for people in rural areas compared with 75% for those in urban areas, according to a recent government study, and that disparity has more than doubled since April 2021. Overall, more than 65% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. The divide is particularly stark among children and teenagers who need parental consent to get vaccinated. Only about 15% of children ages 5-11 have been vaccinated in rural areas, compared with 31% in urban areas.
14th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

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UK economy bounces back from Omicron as more people dine out

Britain’s economy bounced back from the effects of the Omicron Covid variant at a faster pace than expected during January, as consumers returned to eating and drinking out in pubs and restaurants. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said all sectors of the economy returned to growth, helping to lift gross domestic product by 0.8% in January from a month earlier, fuelled by a rise in consumer-facing services. GDP was estimated to be 0.8% above its pre-pandemic level, reflecting a weaker impact on the economy than expected after the emergence of the Omicron variant led to a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. City economists had forecast a slower growth rate of 0.2%.
12th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Age groups being hardest hit by Covid in York revealed

As the Covid rate soars in York, the age groups being most affected by the coronavirus have been revealed. City of York Council's latest Covid data tracker report says people aged between 30 and 49 are currently experiencing the highest Covid infection rate. It says people aged 40 to 44 had the highest rate of new cases in the week to March 5, with a rate of 801 per 100,000 population. The next hardest hit groups were people aged 45-49, who had a rate of 655, people aged 35-39, with a rate of 561 and people aged 30-34, with a rate of 547. The rate for people aged 60+ was 392.7. The council ward with the highest rate was Wheldrake, with a rate of 695.8 per 100,000, and the lowest rate was 257.5 in Clifton.
12th Mar 2022 - York Press

Australia nears living with COVID like flu - PM Morrison

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the nation's political leaders want to move to a new phase of living with COVID-19 as though it were the flu, but would consult health experts. A day after meeting with the national cabinet of state and federal leaders, Morrison told reporters on Saturday morning they had discussed moving to "Phase D" of the national pandemic response plan. "Our airports are open again, international arrivals can come, there are waivers now on quarantine for people returning, so we are pretty much in Phase D," he said.
12th Mar 2022 - Reuters

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Covid Study Finds 18 Million Deaths, Three Times Official Tally

The pandemic’s death toll may be three times higher than official Covid-19 records suggest, according to a study that found stark differences across countries and regions. As many as 18.2 million people probably died from Covid in the first two years of the pandemic, researchers found in the first peer-reviewed global estimate of excess deaths. They pointed to a lack of testing and unreliable mortality data to explain the discrepancy with official estimates of roughly 5.9 million deaths. “At the global level, this is quite the biggest mortality shock since the Spanish flu,” said Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, where the study was conducted.
11th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

Seniors, freed from COVID isolation, sashay in New York dance class

Seniors sway hips and stomp feet as they salsa, cha-cha, merengue and bachata in a New York dance class to get moving again after two years of COVID-19 pandemic isolation. Despite stiff joints - or even the loss of a limb - the students stick it out in the free class taught by Walter Perez at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood in upper Manhattan.
10th Mar 2022 - Reuters

'Lost generation' feared as COVID school closures fuel inequality

Around 1.6 billion children globally - more than 90% of all school students - have been affected by pandemic school closures, which threaten to widen wealth inequalities both within and between countries. "We're running the risk of a lost generation," U.N. education expert Robert Jenkins told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It's a now-or-never moment to turn things around." Without urgent action, many countries could end up without the skilled workers they need for their future development, said Jenkins, head of education at UNICEF.
10th Mar 2022 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Novavax, eyeing the COVID 'vaccine hesitant' and kids, unveils new education campaigns as Nuvaxovid nears US finish line

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were quickest off the mark in getting COVID vaccines into American arms, but Novavax is hoping to add another pandemic vaccine to the U.S. mix soon—and it's pushing new campaigns to get the word out. The biopharma, which has approvals and authorizations in Europe and around the world, is now on the cusp of a potential green light in the U.S. And with a market comes the need for marketing. But because it still has no U.S. approval—and it cannot under law advertise to consumers in Europe—Novavax is launching two new global, unbranded vaccine education programs: "We Do Vaccines" and "Know Our Vax." They're designed to offer up vaccine information and "explain Novavax’ commitment to vaccine development and innovation,” the company told Fierce Pharma Marketing.
10th Mar 2022 - Fiercepharm

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Florida vaccine plan for children denounced as ‘irresponsible and reckless’

In a pronouncement which stunned experts on Monday, Florida’s controversial surgeon general Dr Joseph Ladapo said the state would be the first to “recommend against” Covid-19 vaccination for “healthy children”. The move followed two recent Covid-19 surges in which pediatric hospitalization was believed to be higher because of low vaccination rates among children. “It’s very generous to call it a recommendation, because recommendations come with supporting evidence and transparency,” said Saad B Omer, director of the Yale Institute of Global Health and professor of medicine in infectious diseases.
9th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Having Covid-19 linked to risk of economic hardship, study suggests

People living in the UK’s most deprived areas are more likely to be infected with Covid-19, but research suggests this relationship is a two-way street: becoming infected also increases people’s risk of economic hardship, particularly if they develop long Covid. “We’ve shown that Covid has an impact on people’s ability to meet their basic household requirements – something that is only going to be exacerbated by the cost of living crisis which is happening at the same time,” said Adrian Martineau, a professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), who supervised the research. The findings have boosted calls for ministers to do more to support the growing number of working-age adults affected by the condition, which is also known as post-acute Covid syndrome (Pacs).
9th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

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Florida's top health official says healthy children should not get coronavirus vaccine

Florida’s governor and chief health official announced a new state policy that will recommend against giving a coronavirus vaccine to healthy children, regardless of their age — a policy that flies in the face of recommendations by every medical group in the nation. The announcement came at the conclusion of a 90-minute forum that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) hosted in West Palm Beach. “The Curtain Close on COVID Theater” was live-streamed from a studio with hundreds of participants appearing on a towering screen behind the panelists. Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo prefaced the change by deriding the school closures and mask and vaccine mandates issued by many states since the start of the pandemic as “terrible, harmful policies.”
8th Mar 2022 - The Washington Post

Trucker convoy laps Washington, DC, beltway to protest Covid-19 measures

A convoy of vehicles lapped the Washington, DC, beltway Sunday morning to demand an end to Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. The protests come at a time when many pandemic-related mandates and restrictions -- imposed by state and local governments rather than lawmakers in Washington -- have already begun being lifted in much of the country. The group planned to drive at least two loops around the beltway before returning to Hagerstown, Maryland, Maureen Steele, an organizer with the "People's Convoy" told CNN. Sunday's protest may mark the beginning of several days of disruptions, according to District of Columbia emergency management officials.
8th Mar 2022 - CNN

Japan's ANA lines up low-cost carrier in bet on post-COVID tourism boom

Japanese airline ANA Holdings Inc plans to launch a new international low-cost carrier in late 2023 or early 2024, joining its rival Japan Airlines Co in a bet on a revival in tourism as the impact of the COVID pandemic fades. ANA said on Tuesday the carrier, Air Japan, would fly mid-range international flights to Asia-Pacific destinations, without disclosing planned routes. ANA already has a separate low cost carrier (LCC), Peach Aviation, which flies domestic routes as well as to a handful of short-haul Asian destinations.
8th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Health groups press for more wildlife SARS-CoV-2 tracking

The statement on animal surveillance came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO). They said though wildlife doesn't play a key transmission role in humans, SARS-CoV-2 spread in animal populations can affect their health and lead to the emergence of new variants. So far, farmed mink and pet hamsters have shown the capacity to infect humans, and scientists are reviewing a possible case of transmission between white-tailed deer and a human. And in the United States, large numbers of white-tail deer have been shown to carry the virus, underscoring concerns about establishment of an animal reservoir.
8th Mar 2022 - CIDRAP

COVID deaths vary by race, community, social factors

Social determinants of health (SDOH) tied to COVID-19 death rates varied by race and community type in the first year of the pandemic, suggests an observational spatial analysis involving 3,142 counties in all 50 US states and Washington, DC. The study was published late last week in JAMA Network Open. SDOH are nonmedical factors, such as where people live and work, that influence health outcomes such as COVID-19 infection and death. "Racial disparities in health largely emanate from the inequitable access to social, economic, and physical or built environmental conditions resulting from racism in the US," the researchers wrote. "Specifically, racism interacts with and exists within societal structures and systems to shape the major SDOH."
7th Mar 2022 - CIDRAP

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U.S. CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to Hong Kong, New Zealand

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday urged Americans to avoid travel to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Thailand over COVID-19 cases. The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to "Level Four: Very High" for the three destinations. In total, the CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to about 135 countries and territories. The CDC lists another 33 destinations as "Level 3: High" and recommends unvaccinated Americans avoid travel. It lowered six destinations on Monday to Level 3: Anguilla, Cape Verde, Fiji, Mexico, Philippines and United Arab Emirates.
8th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Moderna reaches preliminary agreement to build Covid vaccine manufacturing plant in Africa

Moderna plans to invest $500 million to produce messenger RNA, the technology underlying its Covid vaccines, at the facility in Kenya. It could fill Covid vaccine doses at the Kenya facility as early as 2023 subject to demand, according to the company. Moderna has faced criticism from groups such as Oxfam International and Doctors Without Borders for not sharing its vaccine technology with middle and lower income countries.
7th Mar 2022 - CNBC

Americans significantly less worried about contracting COVID-19: Gallup

A new Gallup poll shows that concerns about the pandemic have fallen, with just over a third of respondents saying they are now worried about contracting COVID-19. Americans questioned in the survey released Monday are more optimistic about the state of the pandemic than they have been since June, before the pandemic's delta and omicron variants contributed to a significant uptick in infections, according to the survey giant. For example, just 34 percent of people said they are worried about contracting COVID-19, compared to 50 percent in January.
7th Mar 2022 - Yahoo News

Convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates begins beltway circuit

A large group of truck drivers and their supporters who object to COVID-19 mandates began their mobile protest in the Washington, D.C., area Sunday, embarking on a drive designed to snarl traffic and make their objections known to lawmakers. The “People’s Convoy” follows similar demonstrations by truckers in Canada upset at vaccine requirements to cross the Canadian border. The Washington Post reported that convoy organizer Brian Brase intends for protesters to travel on the beltway every day during the upcoming week until its demands are met.
7th Mar 2022 - The Independent

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Trucks, RVs and cars flock to Washington area to protest COVID restrictions

More than a thousand large trucks, recreational vehicles and cars are gathering on the outskirts of Washington as part of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions that threatens to roll on the U.S. capital in the coming days. The so-called "People's Convoy," which originated in California and has drawn participants from around the country, is calling for an end to all pandemic-related restrictions. It was inspired by demonstrations last month that paralyzed Ottawa, Canada's capital city
6th Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID and the Russian invasion: Ukraine’s dual crisis

Most of us could be forgiven for thinking there were glimmers of light at the end of a very long pandemic tunnel. We are not out of the pandemic yet, but with vaccines, advances in therapeutics and a wealth of knowledge on how the COVID-19 virus works and spreads, things have been improving. However, Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has opened up a dark chapter, one which will likely drive COVID infections up – not just in Ukraine but in surrounding countries. And history tells us warzones can provide the ideal conditions for infectious diseases to spread. Distracted government institutions, faltering health services, and the congregation of large numbers of vulnerable people, alongside environmental degradation, can create the perfect storm of conditions for an outbreak of a catastrophic infectious disease.
5th Mar 2022 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com

Half of Insured Americans Owe Medical Debt, Boosted by Covid

More than half of Americans have medical debt -- whether they have health insurance or not. A recent survey of 1,250 U.S. adults found that 56% owe health-related debt and almost one in six people with medical bills aren’t currently paying it off. A large chunk of the debt came from Covid-19 treatment and testing, according to the poll conducted by Affordable Health Insurance.
5th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

Most EU women blame COVID pandemic for spike in gender violence -poll

Nearly three out of four European Union women think the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an increase in physical and psychological violence against them, according to a Eurobarometer poll published on Friday. The poll, commissioned by the European Parliament ahead of Women's Day on March 8, shows 77% of women in the EU think the pandemic caused a rise in gender violence in their countries, with nine in 10 respondents in Greece and Portugal saying so.
4th Mar 2022 - Reuters

The evolving post-COVID U.S. job market in five charts

In the two years since the COVID-19 pandemic upended the U.S. economy, the labor market has rebounded far faster than most had predicted after roughly 22 million jobs were wiped out in the space of two months in the spring of 2020. As remarkable as the rebound has proven to be, the comeback from the low point in April 2020 has not been evenly spread across industries and demographic groups, with restaurant employment, for instance, still in a deep hole and the share of Black women with jobs trailing the recovery in other groups.
4th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Life in South Asia returns to normal as COVID cases decline

Shoppers buy produce at an open air market in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Slowly but steadily, life in South Asia is returning to normal, and people hope the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind them. Experts are optimistic that the omicron surge, which brought relatively low levels of death, has reinforced immunity from vaccines, which are widespread in the region. Slowly but steadily, life in South Asia is returning to normal, and people hope the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind them. Experts are optimistic that the omicron surge, which brought relatively low levels of death, has reinforced immunity from vaccines, which are widespread in the region. The markets are crowded again. Traffic is jamming the roads. Migrant workers have returned to the cities. And young people are back at schools and universities — many of them for the first time in years. It isn’t quite how things were before the COVID-19 pandemic — mask mandates still exist in some places — but with infections steadily declining, life in South Asia is returning to a sense of normalcy. The mental scars from last year’s delta-driven surge persist — especially in India, where health systems collapsed and millions likely died — but across the region high vaccination rates and hope that the highly contagious omicron variant has helped bolster immunity are giving people reasons to be optimistic.
4th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

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Education Scotland partners with cybersecurity firm to help young learners stay safe online

Scotland’s national education agency is partnering with a leading cybersecurity firm to provide interactive learning and ‘demystify’ the subject for young people. Palo Alto Networks is working with Education Scotland to equip children with the right information to help them manage their online interactions safely and securely. Together, they are launching the Cyber Citizens programme, which will be available from 3 March, 2022, to coincide with CyberScotland Week. The lessons are designed so that they can be delivered by anyone, regardless of their prior knowledge, with modules catering for children from ages five to 15-years-old.
3rd Mar 2022 - FutureScot

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Partisan media exposure could inform COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy may be more attributed to partisan media exposure and an individual's pre-existing attitudes, rather than a lack of information about vaccine effectiveness, according to a Washington State University study. The study, published in Current Psychology, experimentally tested the intertwined relationships among message frames, partisan media use and attitudes on vaccine intention. In general, the findings show that those who consumed lower amounts of conservative media and held positive vaccine attitudes were higher on vaccine intention. Among people who consumed a higher amount of conservative media and held negative vaccine attitudes, the messages that talked about individual benefits of getting the vaccine resonated more.
2nd Mar 2022 - Medical Xpress

COVID-19: New Zealand police move to end three-week vaccine mandate protest

Protesters have fought police with fire extinguishers and pitchforks as officers moved to end an anti-vaccine mandate protest in New Zealand's capital three weeks after it began. The protesters had been outside Wellington's parliament buildings for 23 days when police in riot gear moved in early on Wednesday morning. Protesters used projectiles, shields, fire extinguishers, and pitchforks to fight police, as officers began dismantling protesters' tents and towing away up to 50 vehicles.
2nd Mar 2022 - Sky News

Covid-19 Has Orphaned 5.2 Million Children

An updated modeling study in The Lancet shows that number of children globally affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and caregiver death is estimated to have increased dramatically from approximately 2.7 million in April 2021 to a devastating 5.2 million in October 2021. To put those numbers into context, the researchers state that is the equivalent of one child every six seconds during the six-month period. With the pandemic far from over, we have both a moral and public health imperative to protect and support these children from direct and secondary harms. Children’s lives are permanently changed by the loss of a mother, father, grandparent, or other primary caregivers. The loss of a parent is an adverse childhood experience that is linked to a greater risk of dropping out of school, lower self-esteem, suicide, violence, sexual abuse, and developing anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems. These impacts could be compounded further by the circumstances and additional stressors of the pandemic
2nd Mar 2022 - Forbes

Two years after world's biggest lockdown, India surges back to normal life

Almost two years after India went into the world's biggest lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, students headed back to school in Maharashtra state on Wednesday, a sign of normal life resuming as infection rates fall. India's daily coronavirus infections rose by less than 10,000 for a third straight day on Wednesday, a level last seen in late December before the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, data from the health ministry showed.
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID cases, deaths continue to fall globally, WHO reports

The number of new coronavirus cases reported globally dropped by 16% last week, marking a month-long decline in COVID-19 infections, according to figures from the World Health Organization. In its weekly report on the pandemic issued late Tuesday, the U.N. health agency also said that deaths fell by 10%, continuing a drop in fatalities first seen last week. WHO said there were more than 10 million new cases and about 60,000 deaths globally. The Western Pacific was the only region where COVID-19 increased, with about a third more infections than the previous week. Deaths rose by 22% in the Western Pacific and about 4% in the Middle East, while declining everywhere else.
2nd Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

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Dubai entry requirements: Travel restrictions ease in UAE with Covid tests scrapped for fully vaccinated

Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to present a negative PCR test upon arrival in Dubai after the country eased its Covid entry rules over the weekend. Unvaccinated travellers will be able to enter either with a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours before arrival or with proof of recovery from Covid within the past month.
1st Mar 2022 - iNews

Italy entry requirements: Travel restrictions ease as Covid tests scrapped for fully vaccinated arrivals

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Italy will no longer need to provide proof of a negative Covid test from Tuesday. From 1 March, Italy is easing entry restrictions for all arrivals from non-EU countries, including the UK. The country will accept proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test result for entry.
1st Mar 2022 - iNews

Tackling vaccine hesitancy by targeting 'fence-sitters'

A new study, published in the Journal of Community Health, emphasizes the importance of outreach to people who have mixed feelings about getting vaccinated. The study looked at the attitudes of participants aged 55 years and older about vaccines at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers accessed data from the COVID-19 Coping Study to identify people in the United States who were either receptive, ambivalent, or against getting vaccinated against the disease.
1st Mar 2022 - Medical News Today

More than £600,000 in Covid-19 fines served to London’s businesses

More than £600,000 in Covid-19 fines have been dished to London’s businesses by local authorities wielding the emergency powers, an Evening Standard investigation has revealed. Police forces have faced the brunt of the scrutiny over coronavirus powers being used to break up illicit parties and enforce the lockdown rules, while Scotland Yard is currently deciding whether to hand out fines for the Partygate scandal at Downing Street. However little attention has been paid to how local authorities – also permitted to issue fines and bring prosecutions under the Covid laws – have used their powers. Freedom of Information requests reveal councils around the capital have handed out at least £600,000 in fines since the pandemic began, while a further £24,000 in fines have been imposed after full criminal prosecutions brought by six councils – Greenwich, Waltham Forest, Ealing, Haringey, Bexley, and Tower Hamlets.
1st Mar 2022 - Evening Standard

Hong Kong leader calls for calm, after supermarkets emptied ahead of mass COVID testing

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam called for calm on Tuesday after residents emptied supermarkets, stocking up on produce ahead of reports of compulsory mass COVID-19 testing and rumours of a city-wide lockdown. Local media reported compulsory COVID testing would start after March 17, sparking concerns many people will be forced to isolate and families with members testing positive would be separated. Lam appealed to the public "not to fall prey to rumours to avoid unnecessary fears being stirred," with the supply of food and goods remaining normal, according to a statement on Tuesday.
1st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Demand for Science Lab Buildings Soars During Covid-19 Pandemic

The rapid growth of life-science research during the pandemic is triggering a record boom in the development of new lab space and offices serving these companies. Development of buildings geared toward biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other laboratory firms was already on the rise before 2020. But demand for this space intensified as billions of dollars poured into research and development of a Covid-19 vaccine and other therapies for the virus. Life-science space has also been enjoying high occupancy rates because—unlike traditional office buildings—much of the lab work requires specialized equipment and building infrastructure that cannot be easily replicated at home.
1st Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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90% adolescents administered 1st Covid-19 vaccine dose in Delhi: Data

Ninety per cent of adolescents in the age group of 15 to 18 years in Delhi have been administered the first dose of vaccine against COVID-19 since the launch of the drive on January 3, according to official data. Up to February 24, 54 per cent of them had also received the second dose of the vaccine, the data presented during a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) earlier this week mentioned.
28th Feb 2022 - Business Standard

How Covid vaccine misinformation is still impacting inoculation rates in Lancashire

The Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been subject to months of debate based on numerous health concerns primarily surrounding blood clots. And due to these concerns, some members of Lancashire’s Asian community have been reluctant to have the jab, over worries that it is safe. Certain medical studies and reports note that one of the most common reasons for hesitancy within the British-Asian community are concerns regarding side effects and long-term effects on health.
28th Feb 2022 - Lancs Live

Hong Kong domestic helpers abandoned as COVID takes toll

A rapid spread in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong has cast a spotlight on the plight of domestic helpers in the global financial hub after some were fired or made homeless by their employers when they tested positive for coronavirus. Hong Kong has around 340,000 domestic helpers, most hailing from either the Philippines or Indonesia. Many families in the city depend on live-in helpers for housekeeping and to look after the elderly and children, with the minimum wage set at HK$4,630 ($593) per month. Under Hong Kong law, migrant domestic workers must live with their employers, often residing in tiny rooms or sharing the bedrooms of the children they care for.
28th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Community Workers Push to Get Covid-19 Tests to the Vulnerable

As the Biden administration distributes hundreds of millions of Covid-19 tests, some public-health workers are moving to deliver the kits a final mile to some of the people most vulnerable to the virus. In some places, including low-income areas, rural parts of the country and some communities of color, a more local effort from health providers and community organizations is needed to get tests into people’s hands, officials and providers said. That work echoes efforts to bring Covid-19 vaccines to people who struggled to reach vaccination sites or were hesitant to get a shot.
27th Feb 2022 - Wall Street Journal

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Google drops coronavirus vaccine requirement for US office workers

In a major update to Covid-19 protocols, Google will no longer mandate vaccines as a condition of employment for US workers. "Based on current conditions in the Bay Area, we're pleased that our employees who choose to come in now have the ability to access more onsite spaces and services to work and connect with colleagues," a Google spokesperson said in a statement to CNET. "We are giving employees who welcome the chance to come into the office the option to do that wherever we safely can, while allowing those who aren't ready to keep working from home."
24th Feb 2022 - Business Standard

Anti-Covid vaccine mandate protesters chase New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern outside school

A group of shouting protesters have chased the New Zealand prime minister’s van down a driveway as she visited a Christchurch primary school, amid tensions over increasingly volatile anti-vaccine mandate protests. Jacinda Ardern, who was visiting a primary school in Christchurch, was met by a crowd of people shouting “shame on you” and “traitor”. Some held signs saying that the prime minister would be “put on trial” and “held responsible”, and one man brandished a fabricated arrest warrant – references to conspiracy theories that a cohort of world leaders and powerful people are secretly using vaccines to commit a genocide, and would soon be put on trial and hanged for treason. Police officers formed a barrier to allow the prime minister to pass through.
24th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

US truckers planning pandemic protest to begin heading to DC

Modelled after recent trucker protests in Canada, truck drivers in the United States are planning on setting off on a massive cross-country drive towards Washington, DC to protest against coronavirus restrictions. Organisers of the “People’s Convoy” say they want to “jumpstart the economy” and reopen the country. Their 11-day trek that is estimated to be 4,000km (2,500 miles) long will approach the Beltway – which encircles the US capital – on March 5 “but will not be going into DC proper”, according to a statement. Separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund – all with different starting points, departure dates and routes. Some are scheduled to arrive in time for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, though others may arrive afterwards.
23rd Feb 2022 - AlJazeera

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U.S. truckers plan pandemic protest, inspired by Canadian counterparts

Taking a cue from demonstrations that paralyzed Canada's capital city, Ottawa, for weeks, U.S. truckers on Wednesday plan to embark on a 2,500-mile (4,000-km) cross-country drive toward Washington to protest coronavirus restrictions. Organizers of the "People's Convoy" say they want to "jumpstart the economy" and reopen the country. Their 11-day trek will approach the Beltway around the U.S. capital on March 5, "but will not be going into D.C. proper," according to a statement. The Pentagon said on Tuesday it had approved 400 National Guard troops from the District of Columbia, who would not carry weapons, to help at traffic posts from Saturday through March 7.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Weary of promises, Bulgarians protest against COVID curbs, inflation

About 1,000 Bulgarian demonstrators gathered in downtown Sofia on Wednesday to protest against curbs imposed to combat COVID-19 and rampant inflation at a rally organised by the opposition ultra-nationalist Revival party. Holding banners reading "I want a normal life," and "COVID is a tyranny, not a pandemic" the demonstrators booed as Prime Minister Kiril Petkov addressed them. Bulgaria, where scepticism about vaccines and entrenched distrust of government institutions has meant fewer than one in three adults are inoculated against the coronavirus, has seen infections drop in recent weeks after they peaked at the end of January, prompting the government to start easing restrictions.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

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In Hong Kong's All-Out Fight Against Covid, Singapore Is Winning

In pursuit of a tough Covid Zero strategy to fight its worst ever coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong is ceding ground to Singapore, a rival Asian financial and transport hub that’s been easing pandemic-linked restrictions to get its economy back on track. Key data compiled by Bloomberg Economics economists Tamara Mast Henderson and Eric Zhu show that some businesses, weary of stringent quarantine rules and the inability to travel freely, have been shifting to Singapore. The analysts have cut their economic growth forecast for Hong Kong by 0.6 percentage point to 1.4% this year, and expect Singapore’s gross domestic product to grow 4.7%
22nd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Convoy Leader Denied Bail as Canadian Officials Warn of Unrest

Canadian banks froze about C$7.8 million ($6.1 million) in just over 200 accounts under emergency powers meant to end protests in Ottawa and at key border crossings, a government official said Tuesday. The new tally was revealed in testimony to lawmakers examining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the country’s Emergencies Act to end a three-week occupation of the nation’s capital. Trudeau and his ministers have said the measures announced last week are meant to cut off funding to protest leaders and to pressure trucking companies to prevent their semis from being used again in blockades. Ottawa’s downtown core was cleared out over the weekend, but dozens of trucks remain gathered at encampments outside the city.
22nd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Protester drives at New Zealand police as cordon tightens

One protester drove a car toward a New Zealand police line, narrowly avoiding officers, while other protesters sprayed officers with a stinging substance, police said Tuesday, as they tightened a cordon around a convoy that has been camped outside Parliament for two weeks. The clashes in the capital of Wellington came a day after police reported that some of the protesters had thrown human feces at them.
22nd Feb 2022 - ABC News

Canada's parliament approves Trudeau's emergency powers

Canada's parliament on Monday backed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to invoke rarely-used emergency powers to end pandemic-related protests that have blocked streets in the capital Ottawa for more than three weeks. The Emergencies Act was approved in parliament by 185 to 151, with the minority Liberal government getting support from left-leaning New Democrats. The special measures, announced by Trudeau a week ago, have been deemed unnecessary and an abuse of power by some opposition politicians.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Bulgaria to ease coronavirus restrictions as cases drop

Bulgaria plans to lift the obligatory COVID-19 "green certificate" for entry to restaurants, shopping malls and other public venues from March 20 as coronavirus infections ease, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said. The health pass - a digital or paper certificate showing someone has been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus - was made obligatory for most indoor spaces in Bulgaria last October. Its introduction has prompted a series of protests in the European Union's least vaccinated member state, angering bar and restaurant owners and anti-vaccine activists.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Ugandans would face fines, jail for refusing COVID jab under new law

Uganda plans to impose fines on people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who fail to pay could be sent to prison under a new public health law which lawmakers are scrutinising, parliament said on Tuesday. Although the East African country started administering COVID-19 jabs nearly a year ago, only about 16 million jabs have been administered in a population of 45 million, with officials blaming widespread reluctance for the low coverage. Parliament's house health committee has begun scrutinising Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 which seeks to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

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UK's Johnson scraps COVID restrictions in England

British Prime Minister Boris on Monday said he would end all coronavirus restrictions in England including mandatory self-isolation for people with COVID-19 and free testing, drawing scepticism from some scientists and political opponents. Johnson's "living with COVID" plan has sparked alarm that it is premature and will leave the country vulnerable to new viral variants, but the government says it has provided more testing than most other countries, and must now curb the cost. The plan to ditch the remaining legal restrictions is a priority for many of Johnson's Conservative Party lawmakers, whose discontent over his scandal-ridden leadership has threatened his grip on power. Some critics think the plan is also a bid to divert attention from those scandals.
21st Feb 2022 - Reuters UK

U.K. Unions Challenge Johnson’s Move to End Covid Rules

U.K. trade unions are challenging plans by Boris Johnson to end Covid-19 regulations in England, saying the prime minister should put public health first. The Trades Union Congress, an umbrella group for British unions representing more than 5.5 million people, said Monday that the government should first commit to improving sick pay and supporting people with weakened immune systems and long Covid. The group warned that introducing charges for Covid tests at a time of rising consumer prices would be “an act of madness.” Johnson is set to announce an end to England’s rules on Monday, a day after the U.K.’s 95-year-old monarch Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for the virus. The Cabinet is scheduled to meet Monday to sign off on the so-called Living with Covid plan ahead of a statement by the premier to Parliament.
21st Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19: Emotional reunions as Australia opens border to vaccinated tourists

Australia has reopened its borders to vaccinated travellers after almost two years of pandemic-related closures. Hundreds of people have been reunited with family and friends, with more than 50 international flights arriving in Australia through the day. "It is a very exciting day, one that I have been looking forward to for a long time, from the day that I first shut that border right at the start of the pandemic," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a visit to the island state of Tasmania, which relies heavily on tourism.
21st Feb 2022 - Sky News

Canada looks to end Covid-19 protests with tougher financial measures after another weekend of arrests

Another weekend of protests against Canada's Covid-19 mandates saw around 200 arrests in the nation's capital as authorities moved to end the weekslong demonstration, towing vehicles and going after protesters' pocketbooks with financial penalties. Police said they employed pepper spray and escalated tactics over the weekend to disperse crowds and make arrests with protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building. Some of those arrests included protesters who allegedly had smoke grenades and fireworks, and were wearing body armor, police said. Ontario's Special Investigation Unit is also reviewing an incident where a woman was reportedly seriously injured after an interaction with a police officer on a horse, and a second where an officer discharged a less-than-lethal firearm at protesters.
21st Feb 2022 - CNN

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Freedom Convoy Leaves Town and Quiet Returns to Ottawa

For the first time in over three weeks, downtown Ottawa on Sunday was largely deserted, with the heavy-duty trucks and thousands of protesters demanding an end to Covid-19 vaccine mandates replaced by police vehicles, officers, and crews trying to clean up after a 23-day demonstration. Officials in the capital and across Canada remained on high alert. While police in Ottawa cleared out Freedom Convoy protesters there, authorities in some of Canada’s biggest cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, dealt Saturday with either the threat of a trucker-led demonstration or protesters that disrupted traffic. “It’s still clear that while police have made significant progress, the job is not yet done,” Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief and Canada’s emergency-preparedness minister, told CTV News on Sunday. “The threat, the risks, the reasons we had to invoke emergency powers, they still exist.”
20th Feb 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

'God Save The Queen': messages pour in after Elizabeth catches COVID

News that Britain's Queen Elizabeth had tested positive for COVID-19 drew shock, concern and messages of goodwill from across the country on Sunday, with politicians and the public willing the 95-year-old to recover. On a wet and blustery day, a few sightseers gathered at the gates of Windsor Castle where the queen is receiving medical treatment for mild symptoms. Others went online to express support and message boards in the London Underground urged the monarch to "take it easy".
20th Feb 2022 - Reuters

UK shoppers return to stores after Omicron knock

British shoppers began to return to stores last month after many stayed away during a wave of COVID-19 cases that peaked at the turn of the year, although fast-rising inflation is curbing their spending power. Retail sales volumes rose by 1.9% in January after a 4.0% decline in December, the Office for National Statistics said, the largest rise since lockdown rules for non-essential stores in England were relaxed in April 2021. The monthly increase was greater than the average 1.0% gain forecast in a Reuters poll, although December's drop in sales was slightly bigger than first estimated.
18th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Hundreds of Aussie mining workers set to lose jobs over vaccine mandate

Hundreds of BHP workers across Australia are being forced to quit or lose their jobs after the mining giant won a legal challenge to enforce its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The company expects up to 700 employees, or 3 per cent of its staff, will choose not to be vaccinated, effectively leaving the business, The Australian reports. The rule came into place from January 31 after unions lost a legal challenge fighting the mandate. Under BHP workplace rules, anyone who does not show proof of vaccination will not be permitted on sites and their positions are currently under review. Unvaccinated contractors will also be unable to work with BHP. The mining giant has joined other major Australian companies, such as Bunnings, Qantas and Telstra to implement the measures.
17th Feb 2022 - 9News

US parents of under-fives clamor for off-label use over Covid vaccine delays

When providers sign an agreement to provide Covid-19 vaccine shots, they also agree not to give the vaccine off-label, or use it for purposes other than what it was approved to do. In this case, the Moderna vaccine is approved for adults aged 18 and up, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for those aged 16 and up. But the vaccines are still under emergency use authorizations for younger patients. Providers who give off-label vaccinations in the US may not be protected by legislation that keeps them from being held liable in the case of a rare adverse event.
17th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

The last of Canada's Covid-19 demonstrations may end soon as Ottawa police warn of consequences of staying

A nearly three-week protest in Ottawa over mandated Covid-19 precautions in Canada may be approaching its end as police tell demonstrators to either leave immediately or face legal consequences. "You must leave the area now," the Ottawa Police Service said in a statement to protesters Wednesday. "Anyone blocking streets or assisting others in the blocking (of) streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested." Many demonstrators have vowed to hold out for as long as necessary, and the federal government has moved to enact emergency powers to freeze financial support of the protests despite opposition in Parliament. Beginning with a group of truckers arriving in Ottawa in late January objecting to a vaccine mandate, the protest has morphed into a general airing of grievances against all Covid-19 safety protocols.
17th Feb 2022 - CNN

Fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates used by Australians to beat mandates and enter venues

Unvaccinated Australians are using fake certificates to gain entry to venues the government banned them from at the beginning of this month. The services were first identified late last year, but they are gaining prominence in online forums among people opposed to vaccine mandates in Australia. The ABC has seen one such website, hosted in Russia, that generates highly convincing fakes. It includes an animation that mimics the green tick and a moving Australian coat of arms, and a clock supposedly counting down the time from login.
17th Feb 2022 - ABC News

How to move: exercising after having Covid-19

The Omicron variant has caused an avalanche of Covid-19 cases in Australia in the past months. While most people who catch the disease experience mild symptoms, many report feeling short of breath and sluggish for weeks afterward. “It’s normal to feel tired after a viral infection, and everyone’s recovery is different,” says Janet Bondarenko, a senior respiratory physiotherapist at Alfred hospital in Melbourne. “But the severity of your Covid illness doesn’t necessarily predict whether you will have those lingering symptoms.” The coronavirus can damage various organs, causing ongoing fatigue, says Dr Robert Newton, professor of exercise medicine at Edith Cowan University. “The cardiorespiratory system can’t deliver oxygen to the working muscles efficiently. So what was a light to moderate intensity activity previously feels quite vigorous now.”
17th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

Covid Survivors Deal With Mental-Health Issues Months After Infection

Early Covid-19 survivors were at higher risk of anxiety, depression and a raft of other mental health problems up to a year after their infections, according to a large U.S. study that widens the scope of the pandemic’s economic and societal impact. Even patients who were never sick enough to be hospitalized for Covid were still 68% more likely than their non-infected counterparts to be diagnosed with a sleep disorder, 69% more likely to have an anxiety disorder, and 77% more likely to have a depressive disorder. The relative risk of developing the conditions was significantly higher still in patients hospitalized for Covid, and translates into dozens of additional mental health conditions for every 1,000 coronavirus cases.
17th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

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Canadian government wants to quickly clear COVID protest blockades in Ottawa

Police in the Canadian capital Ottawa on Wednesday started warning truck drivers blockading the downtown core that they should depart or face arrest, part of a promised crackdown to end a three-week-old protest over COVID restrictions. "You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets ... (is) committing a criminal offense and you may be arrested," read leaflets handed out by police to truckers. "You must immediately cease further unlawful activity." Police also started ticketing some of the hundreds of vehicles blocking the downtown core.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand COVID vaccine protesters defy police ultimatum to leave parliament

An anti-vaccine mandate protest outside New Zealand's parliament swelled in numbers on Wednesday, with hundreds of people ignoring a warning from police that their vehicles would be towed away if they did not leave voluntarily. Inspired by truckers' demonstrations in Canada, protesters have blocked several roads around Wellington's 'Beehive' parliament for nine days with trucks, vans and motorcycles, and camped out on the lawns in front of the distinctive building. "There has been an influx of protesters at Parliament today, including children. However, the crowd had been orderly," Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers told reporters, estimating there were about 450 vehicles blocking the site.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 is not a marathon

A brief survey of pilot fatigue and workload-related issues indicates that the people who staff ICUs are under far more prolonged and intense stress than pilots, with fewer and more limited mitigation options. Given the stakes, shouldn’t health care and research workers have something like the load-management guidelines that air crews have? What do the coaches and managers of elite athletes know that health care leaders don’t know? Legendary coaches like John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, and Bill Bowerman kept practices short, paid attention to recovery, and were constantly asking what they could simplify and stop doing. They also saw themselves as teachers who turned the actual competition over to the athletes and did not micromanage from the sidelines.
16th Feb 2022 - STAT News

Companies revert to more normal operations as COVID wanes

For the first time in two years for many people, the American workplace is transforming into something that resembles pre-pandemic days. Tyson Foods said Tuesday it was ending mask requirements for its vaccinated workers in some facilities. Walmart and Amazon — the nation’s No. 1 and 2 largest private employers respectively — will no longer require fully vaccinated workers to don masks in stores or warehouses unless required under local or state laws. Tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook that had allowed employees to work fully remote are now setting mandatory dates to return to the office after a series of fits and starts. “There has been a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases across the country over the past weeks,” Amazon told workers in a memo.
16th Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

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Belgium permits four-day week to boost work flexibility post COVID

Belgian employees will be able to work a four-day week after the government on Tuesday agreed a new labour accord aimed at bringing flexibility to an otherwise rigid labour market. Speaking after his seven-party coalition federal government reached a deal overnight, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the coronavirus pandemic had forced people to work more flexibly and combine their private and working lives. "This has led to new ways of working," he told a press conference. Employees who request it will be able to work up to 10 hours per day if trade unions agree, instead of the maximum 8 now, in order to work one day less per week for the same pay.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Finland entry requirements: New travel rules scrap Covid tests for fully vaccinated and recently infected

Finland is the latest country to scrap testing for fully vaccinated travellers from the UK. From Tuesday the requirement to present a PCR or antigen test upon arrival is to be dropped for those with either with proof of vaccination, proof of a recent infection or a combination of both.
15th Feb 2022 - iNews

Israelis mount their own COVID 'Freedom Convoy'

Hundreds of vehicles drove along the main highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday and converged on parliament to protest against COVID-19 curbs in a convoy inspired by demonstrations in Canada. Other protesters stood on overpasses and at junctions as the so-called "Freedom Convoy" passed by, withbanners and Israeli and Canadian flags flying from the vehicles. "Freedom doesn't look like this," read one sign, showing a picture of a girl in a mask. Outside parliament, protesters sounded horns and beat drums, and called for pandemic restrictions to be lifted.
15th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Canada to ease travel requirements as COVID cases decline

Canada will ease entry for fully vaccinated international travelers starting on Feb. 28 as COVID-19 cases decline, allowing a rapid antigen test for travelers instead of a molecular one, officials said on Tuesday. Antigen tests are cheaper than a molecular test and can provide results within minutes. The new measures, which include random testing for vaccinated travelers entering Canada, were announced by federal government ministers at a briefing.
15th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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New York City Fires 1430 Unvaccinated Workers Following Deadline

More than 1,400 public-sector workers in New York City were fired over their refusal to get vaccinated before the city’s mandated Feb. 11 deadline, most of whom were Department of Education employees. The terminations make up less than 1% of the city’s 370,000-member workforce. About half of the 3,000 employees originally at risk for being fired decided to get vaccinated before the deadline, according to a City Hall spokesperson. New York City mayor Eric Adams characterized the employees’ termination as quitting, saying that they’re choosing to leave their jobs by not following the rules.
15th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Tunisia entry requirements: New travel restrictions see Covid tests scrapped for vaccinated arrivals

Fully vaccinated travellers visiting Tunisia from the UK will no longer be required to present a negative Covid test upon arrival. The rule change has been confirmed by the Foreign Office and comes into effect from Tuesday 15 February. Children who are unvaccinated will be allowed to test to enter, with either a PCR test less than 48 hours before travel, or an antigen test less than 24 hours before travel. Children aged six and under are exempt from all testing and vaccine requirements.
14th Feb 2022 - iNews

U.S.-Canada bridge reopens after police clear protesters

North America's busiest trade link reopened for traffic late Sunday evening, ending a six-day blockade, Canada Border Services Agency said, after Canadian police cleared the protesters fighting to end COVID-19 restrictions. Canadian police made several arrests on Sunday and cleared protesters and vehicles that occupied the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, after a court order on Friday. The blockade had choked the supply chain for Detroit's carmakers, forcing Ford Motor Co (F.N), the second-largest U.S. automaker, General Motors Co (GM.N) and Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) to cut production.
14th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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French COVID protest convoy defies Paris stay-away order

A convoy protesting COVID-19 restrictions breached police defences and drove into central Paris on Saturday, snarling traffic around the Arc de Triomphe and on the Champs Elysees, as police fired tear gas at demonstrators. Protesters in cars, campervans, tractors and other vehicles had converged on Paris from Lille, Perpignan, Nice and other cities late on Friday, despite warnings from Paris authorities that they would be barred from entering the capital. Inspired by horn-blaring "Freedom Convoy" demonstrations in Canada, dozens of vehicles slipped through the police cordon, impeding traffic around the 19th century arch and the top of the boutique-lined Champs Elysees, a magnet for tourists.
13th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Australian police urge protesters to leave capital

Australian police have given thousands of protesters until the end of Sunday to leave occupied areas of the country’s capital, as days-long rallies continue against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Several thousand protesters remained in place at Canberra's major showgrounds, while fewer than 100 demonstrators were gathered near the federal parliament building, an Australian Capital Territory (ACT) police spokesperson told Reuters. No protesters in Canberra had been arrested so far on Sunday after three were detained on Saturday.
13th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Canada Border Blockades Leave Automakers Scrambling

Blockades of the U.S.-Canada border stymied flows of critical supplies for the fourth day on Friday, leaving companies scrambling for materials and shutting down major auto factories from Ontario to Alabama. The partial closure of the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest land crossing between the countries and a vital conduit for the auto industry, sent ripples through North American supply chains. Business groups called on officials to forcefully remove protesters who were causing the blockades. Some companies tried to redistribute key parts among their factories and looked for other ways to move products. But others appeared resigned to shutdowns, saying that bypassing the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, was just too expensive or difficult.
12th Feb 2022 - The New York Times

US conservative figures cheer on Canadian trucker protest

Several conservative media figures in the U.S. have taken up the cause of Canadian truckers who have occupied parts of Ottawa and blocked border crossings to protest COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity cheered the truckers on while showing four live reports from Ottawa this week. Tucker Carlson’s online store is selling “I (heart) Tucker” T-shirts edited to say “I (heart) Truckers.” “Send our solidarity, love and support to all of the brave people who are there,” Hannity told Fox reporter Sara Carter, who was with the protesters in Ottawa, on his show Thursday. “Don’t give up.”
12th Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

Venice's 'Carnival of hope' kicks off as COVID worries ease

Thousands of people revelled in the start of the annual Carnival celebrations in Venice on Saturday, marking a slow return to normality after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the two previous editions. The 2020 Venice Carnival, which usually draws tourists from around the world, was curtailed when the pandemic broke out in Italy in February that year and then cancelled the following year as the government sought to contain infections. "This is the Carnival of hope," said Venice resident Cristian Scalise. "COVID is ending and we hope to return to our life as always."
12th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Amazon to allow work without face masks, require vaccination for paid COVID leave

Amazon.com Inc on Thursday informed staff at its U.S. warehouses and logistics sites that they must report being fully vaccinated by March 18 if they wish to receive paid leave due to COVID-19. The company also said fully vaccinated operations staff could work without a face covering starting on Friday as local regulations allow, according to a message to workers that Amazon shared with Reuters. The online retailer attributed its policy updates to a recent decline in coronavirus cases across the United States, increasing rates of vaccination, and guidance from its medical experts and public health authorities.
11th Feb 2022 - Reuters

COVID: South Africa gradually 'returns to normalcy'

The world was shocked when the Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa last year. But life is almost back to normal there. The government has lifted most lockdown restrictions, and tourists are flocking back. The pandemic felt like a distant memory on the first Thursday of February in Cape Town. Once a month, galleries, restaurants, and shops in the city center open until late, turning the area into a massive pedestrian zone. "Friends told me that there would hardly be any restrictions," German tourist Dominik Irschik told DW. He had just arrived in Cape Town. "But I didn't expect this. Streets, bars, and clubs are full of people — everybody is relaxed and lives like normal again. It's great," Irschik said.
11th Feb 2022 - Deutsche Welle

Thousands of unvaccinated New York municipal workers could lose jobs Friday

Thousands of unvaccinated New York City municipal workers are up against a deadline on Friday to get a COVID-19 shot or get fired, with Mayor Eric Adams apparently determined to carry out the terminations despite an outcry from union leaders. Fewer than 4,000 of the city's 370,000 workers were facing termination at the end of January as a result of the mandate, according to the mayor's office, which said it expected to have an updated number of affected city employees on Monday.
11th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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US urges Canada to use federal powers to end bridge blockade

The Biden administration urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government Thursday to use its federal powers to end the truck blockade by Canadians protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, as the bumper-to-bumper demonstration forced auto plants on both sides of the border to shut down or scale back production. For the fourth straight day, scores of truckers taking part in what they dubbed the Freedom Convoy blocked the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, disrupting the flow of auto parts and other products between the two countries. The White House said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke with their Canadian counterparts and urged them to help resolve the standoff.
11th Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

Paris police authority bans ‘freedom convoy’ Covid protests

“Freedom convoys” of motorists that have set off from half a dozen French cities in protest against the country’s coronavirus restrictions will not be allowed to enter Paris, the capital’s police authority has said. “The stated objective of these demonstrations is to ‘block the capital’ by preventing road traffic from circulating in order to further their demands … from Friday, before moving on to Brussels on Monday,” the authority said. “Because of the risk to public order, these protests will be banned from 11 to 14 February,” it said, adding the penalties for blocking public roads included two years in prison, a fine of €4,500 and a three-year driving ban.
10th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

Brussels bans 'freedom convoy' protesting COVID curbs from entry

Brussels authorities have banned a pan-European "freedom convoy" of motorists protesting COVID-19 restrictions from entering the Belgian capital, the regional government said in a statement on Thursday. The convoy was expected to arrive at the home of European Union institutions and NATO on Monday. Authorities in Paris had earlier banned the convoy. Protesters set out from southern France on Wednesday in what they called a "freedom convoy" that will converge on Paris and Brussels to demand an end to COVID-19 restrictions, inspired by demonstrators who have gridlocked the Canadian capital Ottawa.
10th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Africa transitioning out of pandemic phase of COVID, says WHO

Africa is transitioning out of the pandemic phase of the COVID-19 outbreak and moving towards a situation where it will be managing the virus over the long term, the head of the World Health Organization on the continent said. "I believe that we are transitioning from the pandemic phase and we will now need to manage the presence of this virus in the long term," Dr Matshidiso Moeti told a regular online media briefing. "The pandemic is moving into a different phase ... We think that we're moving now, especially with the vaccination expected to increase, into what might become a kind of endemic living with the virus," she said.
10th Feb 2022 - Reuters

UK police to contact 50 over Downing Street lockdown parties

More than 50 people believed to have attended lockdown parties at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street will be contacted by police to explain their involvement, officers said on Wednesday, as they considered widening their investigation. A statement from the Metropolitan Police said officers would start contacting people from the end of this week, asking them to complete a document with formal legal status on the events that have left Johnson facing the gravest crisis of his premiership. Police are investigating 12 gatherings held at Johnson's office and residence after an internal inquiry found his staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties in Downing Street.
10th Feb 2022 - Reuters

‘Move on’: New Zealand police break up Wellington trucker protest

Scuffles broke out and some 120 people were arrested in New Zealand on Thursday as police began forcefully removing a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic measures outside the parliament building in Wellington. Inspired by the trucker demonstrations in Canada, protesters began blocking streets in the capital with trucks, cars and motorbikes on Tuesday, pitching their tents outside parliament.
10th Feb 2022 - Al Jazeera English

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Canada's Covid-19 trucker protests go global

A trucker protest that has clogged the streets of the Canadian capital for weeks has spread to cities across the world, and impeded access to the busiest land crossing between the United States and Canada as drivers and their supporters demonstrate against vaccine mandates and pandemic control measures. The so-called "Freedom Convoy" began at the end of January in Ottawa as an objection to a vaccine mandate requiring truckers entering Canada to either be fully vaccinated or face testing and quarantine requirements, Paula Newton and Travis Caldwell report. Other protesters then joined to rail against mask mandates, lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings and other Covid-19 preventative measures. The protests, which have seen demonstrators leave trucks idling on roads, have infuriated politicians and business owners, with some in downtown Ottawa complaining about financial losses. "Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens' daily lives. It has to stop," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in parliament on Monday, the same day the Ambassador Bridge, which runs across the border between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, was obstructed by demonstrators.
9th Feb 2022 - CNN

New Covid surge batters Afghanistan's crumbling health care

Only five hospitals in Afghanistan still offer COVID-19 treatment, with 33 others having been forced to close in recent months for lack of doctors, medicines and even heat. This comes as the economically devastated nation is hit by a steep rise in the number of reported coronavirus cases. At Kabul’s only COVID-19 treatment hospital, staff can only heat the building at night because of lack of fuel, even as winter temperatures drop below freezing during the day. Patients are bundled under heavy blankets. Its director, Dr. Mohammed Gul Liwal, said they need everything from oxygen to medicine supplies. The facility, called the Afghan Japan Communicable Disease Hospital, has 100 beds. The COVID-19 ward is almost always full as the virus rages. Before late January, the hospital was getting one or two new coronavirus patients a day. In the past two weeks, 10 to 12 new patients have been admitted daily, Liwal said.
9th Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

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5G and QAnon: how conspiracy theorists steered Canada’s anti-vaccine trucker protest

The brazen occupation of Ottawa came as a result of unprecedented coordination between various anti-vaccine and anti-government organizations and activists, and has been seized on by similar groups around the world. It may herald the revenge of the anti-vaxxers. The so-called “freedom convoy” – which departed for Ottawa on 23 January – was the brainchild of James Bauder, an admitted conspiracy theorist who has endorsed the QAnon movement and called Covid-19 “the biggest political scam in history”. Bauder’s group, Canada Unity, contends that vaccine mandates and passports are illegal under Canada’s constitution, the Nuremberg Code and a host of other international conventions.
8th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

IBM Employees' Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Continue to Go Unanswered

According to Against Federal Mandates, an action committee started by IBM employees who oppose IBM's vaccine mandate, on February 1st, IBM revoked badge access to all worksites and client sites for all unvaccinated employees and employees who did not submit their vaccine status. IBM also stated that it will allow those who work from home to continue to do so, at least temporarily. As IBM continues its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, US IBM employees opposed to the mandate still have unanswered questions
8th Feb 2022 - Yahoo News UK

New Zealand protesters block streets outside parliament

Hundreds of people protesting vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions blocked streets outside New Zealand's parliament on Tuesday with trucks and campervans, inspired by similar demonstrations in Canada. The "convoy for freedom" protesters arrived from all corners of New Zealand and gathered outside the parliament building in the capital Wellington, called the Beehive, ahead of the first speech for the year by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
8th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Ireland's St. Patrick's Day parade returns after three-year COVID absence

Ireland will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a parade through the streets of Dublin for the first time in three years next month - and organisers hope the green-festooned festivities will energise a tourism sector hammered by a tough lockdown regime. The March 17 public holiday, celebrated in towns and villages across the country, was one of the first big events to be cancelled in 2020, shortly before the economy was shutdown for the first time to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The government dropped almost all COVID-19 curbs last month, backed by one of Europe's highest uptake of booster vaccines. The remaining restrictions such as mask-wearing are set to end later this month. "Our national day sends the message out loud and clear – Ireland is open again for tourism and we cannot wait to roll out the "green carpet" and welcome visitors from near and far," Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said in a statement.
7th Feb 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

Ottawa declares state of emergency over COVID-19 protests

The mayor of Canada’s capital declared a state of emergency Sunday and a former U.S. ambassador to Canada said groups in the U.S. must stop interfering in the domestic affairs of America’s neighbor as protesters opposed to COVID-19 restrictions continued to paralyze Ottawa’s downtown. Mayor Jim Watson said the declaration highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government. It gives the city some additional powers around procurement and how it delivers services, which could help purchase equipment required by frontline workers and first responders. Thousands of protesters descended in Ottawa again on the weekend, joining a hundred who remained since last weekend. Residents of Ottawa are furious at the nonstop blaring of horns, traffic disruption and harassment and fear no end is in sight after the police chief called it a “siege” that he could not manage.
7th Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

Hong Kong residents raid supermarket shelves as COVID surge disrupts supplies

Hong Kong residents crowded supermarkets and neighbourhood fresh food markets on Monday to stock up on vegetables, noodles and other necessities after a record number of COVID-19 infections in the city and transport disruptions at the border with mainland China. The city of 7.5 million people reported a record 614 coronavirus cases on Monday, in the biggest test yet for the Chinese territory's zero-COVID strategy.
7th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Misinformation and distrust: behind Bolivia’s low Covid vaccination rates

South America, once the region most afflicted by the pandemic, is now the most vaccinated in the world. But this turnaround doesn’t extend to Bolivia, where roughly half the population is yet to receive a single dose – even though the state has had all the vaccines it needs since October. As it stands, 45% of the population has received two doses, and a further 12% have had a single dose. Less than 7% have received a booster dose. Data leaked from the Ministry of Health before Christmas gave a more detailed snapshot, revealing huge variations between municipalities. In general, departmental capitals had high levels of vaccination. Smaller cities were doing less well. But in many rural municipalities, particularly in the altiplano, less than 30% of the adult population had received a dose.
6th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

GoFundMe Boots Canada Trucker Fundraiser Opposing Vaccine Rules

GoFundMe has removed a fundraiser for Canadian truckers opposing vaccine mandates from its platform, saying the campaign violates terms prohibiting the promotion of violence. Protesters have occupied the streets of the Canadian capital, Ottawa, for nearly a week, demonstrating against Canadian and U.S. laws requiring truckers crossing the border to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Donations to “Freedom Convoy 2022” on GoFundMe surpassed more than C$10 million ($7.8 million) earlier this week.
5th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Poor Countries Affected by Covid Worst, Facing Pandemic Debt Crunch

The pandemic has taken its heaviest toll in some of the world’s poorest countries. Indebted governments from Latin America to Africa spent money they didn’t have to shore up rickety health systems and provide a safety net for citizens, pushing their finances further into the red. Creditor nations helped them by suspending debt repayments and lending them more. Now those waivers have ended and global borrowing costs are on the rise, raising the risk of disorderly defaults.
4th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

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Olympic spotlight back on China for a COVID-tinged Games

Long before the global pandemic upended sports and the world in general, the 2022 Winter Olympics faced unsettling problems. It started with the fact that hardly anybody wanted to host them. Beijing ended up solving that problem, but only after four European cities thought about it and dropped out, mostly because of expense and lack of public support. In the end, it was a race between two authoritarian countries. The IOC narrowly chose China’s capital and its mostly bone-dry surrounding mountains over a bid from Kazakhstan. “It really is a safe choice,” IOC President Thomas Bach said after the balloting.
3rd Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

Indian health workers allege widespread vaccine certificate fraud

Health workers on the frontline of India’s Covid vaccination programme say people are being officially registered as double vaccinated without receiving both doses because of pressure to meet government targets. Workers described how easy it was to falsely register second vaccine doses for people who did not attend appointments, by using personal records from their first dose and opting to bypass a code sent to their mobile phone.
3rd Feb 2022 - The Guardian

Venezuela COVID patients, exhausted doctors get mental health help from medical charity

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is providing mental health care for COVID-19 patients, their families and also medical staff in two public hospitals in Venezuela to support the country's run-down health system. They are organizing phone and video calls between the sick and their loved ones and even helping dying patients to say their goodbyes, Elizabeth Hernandez, who leads MSF's effort at Caracas' Lidice hospital, said. She said they are providing one-on-one mental health consultations for doctors and nurses.
3rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Anti-vaccine mandate protesters say they will block Ottawa for as long as necessary

Truck drivers who have been blockading downtown Ottawa for six days on Wednesday said they had no intention of leaving the Canadian capital until the government scrapped COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Despite increasing complaints from residents about noise, pollution and aggressive behavior from some truckers, Ottawa police have declined to end the protest, citing the risk of aggravating tensions. The demonstration began as a move to force the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to drop a vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers
3rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Spotify's plan to add advisory to COVID podcasts is a positive step -White House

Spotify's plan to add a content advisory to any discussion of COVID-19 on its platform is a positive step, but tech platforms should do more to prevent the spread of misinformation on the coronavirus, the White House said on Tuesday. "Our hope is all major tech platforms and all major news sources for that matter be responsible and be vigilant to ensure that the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19", White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in a briefing. "This disclaimer - it's a positive step, but we want every platform to continue doing more to call out misinformation."
2nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Army begins discharging soldiers who refuse COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. soldiers who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine will be immediately discharged, the U.S. Army said on Wednesday, saying the move was critical to maintain combat readiness. The Army's order applies to regular Army soldiers, active-duty Army reservists and cadets unless they have approved or pending exemptions, it said in a statement. The discharge order is the latest from a U.S. military branch removing unvaccinated service members amid the pandemic after the Pentagon made the vaccine mandatory for all service members in August 2021.
2nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Fraudulent Covid-19 Test Sites Proliferate, Triggering Consumer Warnings

Officials nationwide are trying to stay ahead of a proliferation of Covid-19 test sites that they say are offering fraudulent services to the public. Attorneys general in states including New Mexico, Oregon, Florida, Minnesota, New York and Illinois have shut down pop-up test locations, or issued warnings, citing late or false test results and theft of people’s personal information. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has warned that “scammers are preying on people looking for Covid tests.” Authorities have alleged that the operators of these sites are making money by sending bills to people whose insurance is supposed to cover Covid-19 tests or falsely claiming consumers are uninsured as a way to seek reimbursement from the federal government.
2nd Feb 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Virginia governor sued again over order to make masks optional in schools

A civil liberties group said on Tuesday it sued Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and his administration over his order making masks optional in public schools, saying it violates the rights of students vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU) said its suit in a federal court in Charlottesville seeks a temporary restraining order and permanent lifting of Youngkin's order barring school districts from implementing universal mask requirements. The ACLU said the order violates federal disabilities law.
2nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Little cheer for Year of the Tiger in Hong Kong as COVID bites

On January 21, when the number of coronavirus cases hit 20 in the densely-populated high-rise public housing estate of Kwai Fong, residents were given two hours to prepare for a five-day lockdown. Santiago Fung’s family focused on the essentials. His mother and sister bought lettuce and vegetables. Fung picked up frozen seafood, herbs for his two pet tortoises, along with two packs of cigarettes and 24 cans of beer. “I think for five days, that’s enough,” he said as the lockdown began. Challenges mounted by the day. As hundreds of the building’s 2,800 residents crammed the lifts and lobby to get tested, positive cases zipped into the triple digits. Government-supplied meals were tasteless and arrived late. Mostly, he endured the challenge of being a 33-year-old locked down in a 300-square-foot apartment (27.9 square metres) with a younger sister and a mother who insisted they share Chinese herbs with the neighbours.
1st Feb 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Truckers and protesters against Covid-19 mandates block a border crossing. Others tried to take meals away from the homeless in Ottawa, shelter says

What started as a convoy of truckers protesting Covid-19 mandates has snowballed into a blockade in the Canadian capital and the obstruction of a US-Canadian border crossing. Some protesters pressured staff at a homeless shelter to give them food, the facility said. And criminal investigations are underway after the alleged "desecration" of monuments during weekend protests that spilled into Monday. The protests stemmed from the "Freedom Convoy" of truckers that traveled across Canada for several days before arriving in the capital city of Ottawa on Saturday. The drivers oppose a recent vaccine mandate requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated or face testing and quarantine requirements. Downtown Ottawa remained packed with rigs and cars Monday morning as protesters rallied against Covid-19 mandates and some legislators were set to return to Parliament Hill.
1st Feb 2022 - CNN

Politicizing COVID-19 vaccination efforts has fuelled vaccine hesitancy

The current political landscape has become increasingly intertwined with vaccine policy. Platforms from political parties have included vaccine mandates, third-dose policies and mandatory vaccination proposals aimed at children. Québec has even proposed taxing people who remain unvaccinated. This is concerning, particularly given that vaccination efforts are driven by the combined efforts of health-care providers, public health agencies and community leaders.
1st Feb 2022 - The Conversation

New Zealand Open scrapped over COVID travel restrictions

The New Zealand Open golf championship has been cancelled for the second year running, due to ongoing travel restrictions to protect the country from the pandemic, the organisers said on Tuesday. New Zealand's borders have been shut to foreigners since March 2020. The government pushed back plans for a phased reopening from mid-January to the end of February out of concern about a potential Omicron outbreak, as in neighbouring Australia. "We have done everything within our power to make this event happen," tournament chairman John Hart said on the event's website.
1st Feb 2022 - Reuters

Italy chief chaplain condemns call for COVID disobedience by police

Italy's national Catholic military chaplain has hit back at a renegade, vaccine-denying archbishop, accusing him of inciting insubordination among the armed forces and police over their role in enforcing COVID-19 laws. The national chaplain, Archbishop Santo Marciano, issued a statement to all military and law enforcement personnel on Monday night, hours after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano made a statement urging them to disobey orders and not be "automatons". Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador in Washington, has been in hiding for more than three years since issuing a broadside against Pope Francis, demanding his resignation.
1st Feb 2022 - Reuters

COVID shines spotlight on imbalanced approach to death globally -expert panel

The way we die needs a fundamental rethink, according to a group of international experts, who say COVID-19 has shed a harsh spotlight on care for the dying. Death has been “overmedicalized” and millions around the globe are suffering unnecessarily at the end of their lives as a result, with healthcare workers in wealthy nations seeking to prolong life rather than support death, according to an expert panel convened by the Lancet medical journal. At the same time, around half of people globally die without any palliative care or pain relief, particularly in lower-income countries
1st Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Thailand Ready for Rush of Tourists With Quarantine-Free Visas

Thailand expects to welcome hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers a month with the kickoff of a quarantine-free visa program that’s set to serve as a model for tourism-reliant countries balancing safe border reopenings with economic revival. Starting Tuesday, visitors of any nationality can apply for quarantine-free entry into Thailand, provided they are fully vaccinated. The government expects between 200,000 and 300,000 travelers to take advantage of the so-called Test & Go program in February alone, with the numbers expected to swell in the following months.
31st Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Spotify to link COVID content to facts after ‘misinformation’ row

Music streaming company Spotify says it will start guiding listeners of podcasts discussing COVID-19 to facts about the pandemic, after artists, including Neil Young, pulled their songs from the platform in anger at alleged misinformation. In a post on Sunday, Spotify Chief Executive Daniel Ek laid out more transparent platform rules given the backlash stirred up by Young after the tech giant declined to get rid of episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience, which has been criticised for spreading virus misinformation.
31st Jan 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Omicron Pushes Health Authorities Toward Learning to Live With Covid-19

The Omicron variant spreads so quickly and generally causes such a mild form of illness among vaccinated populations that countries are tolerating greater Covid-19 outbreaks, willingly letting infections balloon to levels that not long ago would have been treated as public-health crises. From different starting points, authorities in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific are moving in the same direction, offering a glimpse into a future in which Covid-19 becomes accepted as a fact of everyday life, like seasonal flu. Health officials everywhere, many for the first time, are forgoing some of the sharpest tools they have to combat Omicron—even as infections soar. They are accepting the virus like never before to minimize disruptions to economies, education and everyday life.
31st Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Indonesia says Bali to reopen to foreign travellers, again

Indonesia's holiday island of Bali will start welcoming back travellers from all countries from later this week, officials said on Monday, more than three months after announcing it was open to selected nationalities. Though Bali officially opened to visitors from China, New Zealand, and Japan among other countries in mid October, there has since been no direct flights, Tourism minister Sandiaga Uno told a briefing. The reopening follows similar announcements by Thailand and the Philippines, which put quarantine waivers on hold in December over initial uncertainty about vaccine efficacy against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
31st Jan 2022 - Reuters

F1 to Mandate Covid-19 Vaccines for All Staff

Formula One staff must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 under new FIA rules. The policy drawn up by the sport’s governing body will be written into the regulations for the new season and will apply to all drivers, teams, media and hospitality guests. It is expected that no exemptions will be granted. The sport hopes the rule will avoid a repeat of the Novak Djokovic fiasco which overshadowed the build-up to this month’s Australian Open. All of the grid’s current drivers are understood to be vaccinated. An F1 spokesperson said: “Formula One management will require all travelling personnel to be fully vaccinated and will not request exemptions.”
31st Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Cyprus Orthodox archbishop suspends 12 unvaccinated priests

The head of Cyprus’ Orthodox Christian Church said Sunday that he will suspend a dozen priests from his diocese because they refused to heed his call to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Archbishop Chrystostomos II told state broadcaster CyBC that most of the priests are also theologians who have swayed some of the faithful not to get vaccinated. The archbishop called the insubordination “unheard of” and warned that the suspensions could be extended to six months or lead to the priests being defrocked. He suggested that some of the unvaccinated priests may be emboldened to defy him because of his frail health. Archbishop Chrysostomos has been vocal in his support for vaccinations for all the faithful and the Church’s highest decision making body, the Holy Synod, has issued a clear appeal in favor of vaccination.
30th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

Ottawa police investigating some anti vaccine protesters

Police in Canada’s capital said Sunday they are investigating possible criminal charges after anti-vaccine protesters urinated on the National War Memorial, danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and used the statue of Canadian hero Terry Fox to display an anti-vaccine statement. Thousands of protesters gathered in Ottawa Saturday to protest vaccine mandates, masks and lockdowns. Some travelled in truck convoys and parked on the streets around Parliament Hill, blocking traffic. Many remained on Sunday. Ottawa Police said officers are also investigating threatening behavior to police and others. “Several criminal investigations are underway in relation the desecration of the National War Memorial/Terry Fox statue,” Ottawa police said.
30th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

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Lifting England Covid rules while 3bn people unvaccinated reckless – experts

Boris Johnson has been accused of taking a reckless approach to public health by failing to take enough action to get jabs to 3 billion unvaccinated people in poorer countries while lifting all plan B Covid restrictions in England. The prime minister has robustly defended his record on the pandemic this week while awaiting the findings of the Sue Gray report on the “partygate” scandal, insisting he “got the big calls right” on the biggest global health crisis in a century. But now more than 300 leading scientists, health experts and academics have said his failure to take sufficient action to boost vaccination levels worldwide means it is more likely new variants will put thousands of lives at risk across the UK. “We write to you as scientists, academics, and public health experts concerned about the emergence of the Omicron variant and the threat that future variants may pose to public health, the NHS, and the UK’s vaccination programme,” they said in a two-page letter delivered to 10 Downing Street.
28th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Spotify Publishes Content Policy, Covid-19 Hub in Response to Joe Rogan Controversy

Guitarist Nils Lofgren is among the artists who said they have removed their music from the streaming service. Spotify Technology SA is publishing its content policy and creating a Covid-19 information hub in response to a growing chorus of artists and podcasters speaking out against Joe Rogan. “We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users,” said Chief Executive Daniel Ek in a blog post Sunday. “In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
30th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Protests at Canadian Capital Over Trucker Vaccine Rule Continue on Sunday

Raucous protests in Canada’s capital continued Sunday over trucker vaccine mandates and other Covid-19 health restrictions, but the crowd thinned from its height a day earlier after drawing military and political rebukes for poor behavior. The main avenue outside the parliament buildings in Ottawa remained blockaded by a line of big rigs, and protesters speaking on a makeshift stage said they don’t intend to leave anytime soon. Canada’s legislature has been on a winter break since mid-December, but is scheduled to resume sitting on Monday. The trucker convoy has drawn an unusual amount of global attention, most recently from Donald Trump. “We want those great Canadian truckers to know that we are with them all the way,” the former U.S. president told a Texas rally Saturday night.
30th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Argentine truckers stranded at Chilean border by slow COVID testing

Thousands of truck drivers from Argentina were stuck at the Chilean border on Saturday due to slow COVID-19 testing, as Chile faced its second transport delay crisis. Since Jan. 21, more than 3,000 trucks have been stranded at the customs checkpoint of Cristo Redentor in Mendoza, according to the Argentinean Federation of Business Entities for Cargo Transport (FADEEAC). The long wait has put both drivers and some of the trucks to the test, as trucks with refrigerator units must stay running at all times to keep the cargos at cold temperatures.
30th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Thousands of Czechs protest against COVID curbs

Thousands of Czechs massed in Prague's Wenceslas Square on Sunday, waving flags and chanting slogans against COVID-19 restrictions, even as infections surge. Protesters mainly objected to harsher restrictions for the unvaccinated, including a ban on eating in restaurants. "The state should listen to the people's demands. The arrangements and restrictions lead us on the road to hell," Zuzana Vozabova who banged a drum through the protest, said. The country of 10.7 million reported its highest daily tally of cases on Wednesday - 54,689, and the numbers on other recent days have ranked among the highest since the start of the epidemic.
30th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Canada rally against vaccine mandates blocks Ottawa as Trump praises protest

Dozens of trucks and other vehicles blocked the downtown area of Ottawa for a second day after thousands descended on Canada's capital city on Saturday to protest against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Trucks remained parked on the streets near parliament on Sunday, a day before lawmakers are due to resume work after the holiday break. Hundreds of protesters were out on Sunday, too. Some truckers said they will not leave until the mandate is overturned.
30th Jan 2022 - Reuters

In France, anti-vax fury, politics make public service risky

In Sainte-Anastasie-sur-Issole, a village that curls catlike in verdant Provence hillocks, voters are making an early start on France’s presidential election. From their ballot box this weekend and next will come the name of the candidate — picked from among dozens — that they want their mayor to endorse. Normally, the choice would be Mayor Olivier Hoffmann’s alone, under a right that, at election time, turns small-potato public office-holders into hot properties — wooed by would-be candidates who need 500 endorsements from elected officials to get onto the April ballot. But in an inflamed climate of election-time politics, and with fury among opponents of COVID-19 vaccinations increasingly bubbling over into violence directed at elected representatives, Sainte-Anastasie’s staunchly apolitical mayor doesn’t want to be seen taking sides.
29th Jan 2022 - Associated Press

‘Very scary’: Austria says anti-vax COVID activists cross borders

Some activists who reject COVID-19 vaccines and anti-coronavirus measures are crossing borders to join protests where extremist ideology is being spread, Austria’s new domestic intelligence chief told the AFP news agency, calling the trend “very scary”. Omar Haijawi-Pirchner said foreign activists are travelling to Austria – where COVID vaccines will become mandatory next month – to demonstrate and hold “network meetings with their partners, right-wing extremists”.
29th Jan 2022 - Al Jazeera English

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Greece allows music in bars and restaurants again as COVID cases ease

Greece will allow music in restaurants and bars again and extend their operating hours as it lifts some of the restrictions imposed last month now that coronavirus infections and the pressure on hospitals are easing, authorities said on Thursday. The country last month forced bars, nightclubs and restaurants to close at midnight, with no standing customers and no music, following a surge of cases over the Christmas holidays due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant. "We have decided to scale back the restrictions, taking into consideration the course of the pandemic in terms of cases which have been declining in recent weeks," Health Minister Thanos Plevris said in a televised statement.
27th Jan 2022 - Reuters

As Omicron ebbs, England revives Plan A: living with COVID

After an uncomfortable but relatively brief return to coronavirus restrictions triggered by the Omicron variant, England is going back to "Plan A" - learning to live with a disease that is probably here to stay. The bet is that booster jabs, antiviral pills and Omicron's lower severity will enable the government to manage outbreaks of a virus that cannot be shut out. Other countries equally keen to unshackle business and personal freedom will be watching. Work-from-home guidance ended last week, and measures such as mask mandates and COVID passes, also introduced in England last month, lapsed on Thursday, returning the rules to where they were last July.
27th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Anti-vaccine Canada truckers roll toward Ottawa, praised by Tesla's Musk

Canadian truck drivers determined to shut down central Ottawa over a federal government vaccine mandate rolled across the country toward the capital on Thursday, boosted by praise from Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk. The protesters are unhappy that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truck drivers. Industry officials say 90% of drivers traversing the U.S. frontier are inoculated but a minority have refused, saying the mandate contravenes personal freedom.
27th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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Paid Leave Is Falling Apart Just as Omicron Keeps Sick Americans From Working

The latest Covid surge highlighted with renewed urgency that when Americans get sick, most don't get paid time off from work. At the start of this month, 8.8 million people reported that they weren’t working because they had Covid or were caring for someone who did, according to the Household Pulse Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau — nearly triple the figure from early December. For many, particularly low-wage hourly earners, that could mean forgoing a paycheck or going into work while still recovering or contagious. The U.S., unlike most other high-income countries, guarantees workers nothing in the event of sickness or new parenthood, costing Americans an estimated $22.5 billion annually in wages, according to think tank Center for American Progress.
26th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Hong Kong risks exodus over extended COVID isolation, Euro chamber says

HK reopening seen delayed until China rolls out mRNA vaccine. High costs include exodus of international residents. Appeal as global business hub seen fading Firms may shift to mainland, Singapore or Seoul
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

In Germany, activists rise up to counter vaccine skeptics

Stefanie Hoener was at home one night in Berlin when she heard police sirens wailing through her Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood and anti-vaccine protesters shouting angry slurs as they marched down to the Gethsemane Church — a symbol of the peaceful 1989 revolution in East Germany that ended the communist dictatorship. “That night these people really crossed a line,” Hoener said Monday as she stood with 200 others— many of them neighbors — in front of the red brick church to protect it from anti-vaccine protesters glaring from the other side of the street.
26th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

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‘Putting lives at risk’: Bulgaria referred to rights body over Covid vaccine rollout

Bulgaria’s government has been accused of negligence for failing to prioritise over-65s and people with pre-existing health conditions in its Covid vaccine rollout, in a case that exposes the low uptake of jabs in one of the EU’s poorest member states. The Open Society Foundations (OSF) charitable group said it was filing a formal complaint to the human-rights-focused Council of Europe, alleging that Bulgaria’s government had put lives at risk, possibly leading to thousands of avoidable deaths.
25th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis Touts Covid Monoclonal Antibody Treatments FDA Stopped

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he would consider suing the federal government to allow use of two monoclonal antibody therapies for Covid-19, after the Food and Drug Administration halted their use and said they don’t work against the omicron variant. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said DeSantis’s position was “crazy” when the government was still supplying the potentially life-saving treatment -- just not the specific brands found to be ineffective. The FDA said Monday that it was rescinding authorization for the Eli Lilly & Co. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. monoclonal antibody treatments in the U.S. because they aren’t effective against omicron, which has become overwhelmingly dominant in all regions of the country, including Florida.
25th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Croatia's conservative party initiates COVID certificate referendum

Croatia's conservative Most party handed 82 boxes of papers in to parliament on Monday carrying the signatures of 410,533 people calling on the government to hold a referendum on whether to abolish COVID-19 certificates. The government must check the signatures, and if they are found to be valid, the date for a referendum can be set. Croatia has one of the European Union's lowest vaccination rates, with around 55% of its population inoculated against COVID-19, ahead of only Bulgaria, Romania and Latvia.
25th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Spain breaks up COVID passport forgery ring

Spanish police said on Tuesday they had detained seven suspected members of an international criminal gang that created and sold forged COVID-19 passports and negative tests. The Spanish arm of the ring, which advertised its services on "anti-vax" instant message groups, fraudulently added at least 1,600 people to the national vaccination register with the help of health workers, the investigation found.
25th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong Push for Covid Zero Creates a Labor Shortage

Domestic helpers — cooks, cleaners and nannies in one — are in high demand, but a system that favors employers has some fearing they’ll be jobless if they seek higher wages.
25th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

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Protesters hurl stones at police in Guadeloupe COVID unrest

Protesters attacked police with stones in the early hours of Monday as police moved in to clear out some blockades on Guadeloupe, the authority on the French Caribbean island said, amid ongoing protests against COVID-19 protocols. The Guadeloupe authority said police had been attacked at the Riviere-des-Peres part of the island as they tried to clear out roads that had been blockaded.
24th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Beijing Tests Shoppers Buying Fever Drugs Before Winter Olympics

China’s capital is requiring anyone who buys commonly available anti-fever medicine to undergo Covid-19 testing, as authorities try to root out undetected virus infections without locking down the country’s most important city and host of next week’s Winter Olympics. Beijing residents who purchase antipyretics, antivirals and drugs that target coughs and sore throats will get an alert on the mobile app China uses for contact tracing and which is frequently checked to allow entry to public venues. The buyer will then need to take a Covid test within 72 hours or face movement restrictions
24th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Truckers fighting government vaccine mandate march to Canadian capital

A convoy of truckers started their march from Vancouver on Sunday to the Canadian capital city of Ottawa protesting the government's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers, which the industry says would create driver shortages and fuel inflation. Canada imposed the vaccine mandate for the trucking industry from Jan. 15, under which unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States must get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine themselves.
24th Jan 2022 - MSN.com

Some Hong Kong civil servants, bankers to work from home as COVID spreads

Hong Kong has told some civil servants to work from home from Tuesday, and some banks have given similar instructions to staff following a spate of COVID-19 infections in the Asian financial hub a week before the busy Lunar New Year holiday. Health authorities said there were 109 new cases on Monday, out of which 98 were locally transmitted and five were untraceable. Daily cases hit an 18-month high of 140 on Sunday, fuelled by an outbreak in a congested public housing estate.
24th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Water cannon, tear gas at COVID-19 protests in Brussels

Police fired water cannons and thick clouds of tear gas Sunday in Brussels to disperse people protesting COVID-19 vaccinations and government restrictions that aim to curb the fast-spreading omicron variant. Police said the protest in the Belgian capital drew an estimated 50,000 people, some traveling from France, Germany and other countries to take part. Protesters yelled “Liberty!” as they marched and some had violent confrontations with police. Video showed black-clad protesters attacking a building used by the European Union’s diplomatic service, hurling projectiles at its entrance and smashing windows.
24th Jan 2022 - Associated Press

Protesters March in Washington Against Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates

Protesters rallied in Washington DC Sunday against government mandates for Covid-19 vaccinations, a sign of the challenges for public-health officials looking for ways to persuade more Americans to get the shots. Protesters marched along the National Mall and gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial, despite cold temperatures. The organizers said they would be protesting mandates, not vaccines themselves.
24th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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Back in court - UK hospitality groups take on insurers over lockdown losses

Some of the world's biggest insurers are bracing as a second wave of multi-million pound lawsuits, brought by struggling British pubs, restaurants and bakery chains over lockdown losses, starts hitting London's courts next week. Zurich, MS Amlin, Liberty Mutual, Allianz and AXA are among those due in court one year after Britain's Supreme Court ruled that many insurers had been wrong to deny thousands of companies, battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, business interruption payouts. Insurers have since paid out 1.3 billion pounds ($1.8 billion), according to the Financial Conduct Authority. But the ruling did not cover all policy wordings and, where it deemed claims valid, some companies are now disputing payout levels.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters

Rioters fight Brussels police, smash headquarters of EU foreign service

Protests in Brussels against coronavirus restrictions spiralled into violence on Sunday as protesters clashed with police officers and vandalized the offices of the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic arm. In one of the largest demonstrations against COVID-19 measures in the city, an estimated 50,000 people poured onto the streets, including groups traveling from outside Belgium, according to a police spokesperson. The demonstration was organized by the EU-wide network Europeans United for Freedom and other groups that oppose health restrictions. Police used teargas and water cannons to clear the Cinquantenaire park near the EU institutions after groups of protesters threw objects at officers and charged at them. Live footage showed protesters at street level hurling metal fences and a burning dustbin at policemen below them in the entrance to a metro station. An escalator was later shown burning.
23rd Jan 2022 - POLITICO Europe

Foreign Executives in Isolated Hong Kong Head for Exit, Sick of Zero-Covid Curbs

Stringent rules to try to keep Hong Kong free of Covid-19 are driving away more foreign executives, chipping away at the city’s decades-old status as one of the world’s top business hubs. Flight bans, lengthy quarantine stays for arrivals and repeated school closures are pushing more people to a breaking point as the pandemic enters its third year and the city clings to a zero-Covid strategy abandoned by nearly all countries save for China. A growing outbreak at a public housing estate has prompted the government to lock down buildings and send more people into quarantine. Executives complain the travel restrictions have prevented them from keeping tabs on operations in other countries or visiting business partners and potential clients, even in mainland China. Meanwhile, there is the ever-present risk of being sent to quarantine if they happen to cross paths with a Covid-19 sufferer in Hong Kong just by visiting a pet store or eating lunch out.
23rd Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

New Zealand Urges Business to Be Ready for Omicron Disruption

New Zealand’s government is warning businesses to be prepared for labor shortages and supply disruptions as omicron takes hold in the community. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has urged companies to ensure business continuity plans are in place and pledged government support, but warned that the impact of the variant could be severe. Modeling showed that in a scenario of 25,000 daily cases there could be 350,000 workers a day self-isolating, he said. “What we see from overseas is the supply side of the economy is where the big impacts have been,” Robertson told reporters Sunday in Wellington. “We’re working very hard to make sure we don’t see disruption but inevitably there will be some.”
23rd Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Clashes erupt again over COVID curbs on French island of Guadeloupe

One police officer was injured and police faced gunfire during a night of civil unrest over COVID-19 restrictions in Guadeloupe, a French overseas territory in the Caribbean, the island's local authority said on Friday. Shops were vandalised and there were attempted robberies during the unrest, focused on Guadeloupe's largest urban centre, Pointe-a-Pitre, the authority said. Police moved in at dawn to clear blockades set up by protesters.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters

Anti-vaccine movement's DC rally comes amid covid successes

As anti-vaccine activists from across the country prepare to gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, they are hoping their rally will mark a once-fringe movement’s arrival as a lasting force in American society. That hope, some public health experts fear, is justified. Almost two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the movement to challenge vaccines’ safety — and reject vaccine mandates — has never been stronger. An ideology whose most notable adherents were once religious fundamentalists and minor celebrities is now firmly entrenched among tens of millions of Americans.
21st Jan 2022 - The Washington Post

Hong Kong warns people to stop trying to prevent COVID hamster cull

Hong Kong police will deal with pet lovers who try to stop people giving up their hamsters to be put down, or who offer to care for abandoned hamsters, authorities said, after they ordered a cull of the cuddly rodents to curb the coronavirus. On Tuesday, officials ordered the killing of about 2,000 hamsters from dozens of pet shops after tracing a coronavirus outbreak to a worker at a shop, where 11 hamsters later tested positive for COVID-19. Thousands of people have offered to adopt unwanted hamsters amid a public outcry against the government and its pandemic advisers, which the office of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called irrational.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters

US conservatives spreading anti-vax misinformation to unvaccinated Uganda

US Christian legal organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Texas-based libertarian think tank the Brownstone Institute are among the organisations backing Uganda’s ‘End Lockdown Now’ campaign. The Brownstone Institute’s founder told Ugandans at an online event: “There’s no real case for getting a vaccine if you’ve had natural immunity. It doesn’t make any sense.” End Lockdown Now has platformed anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-lockdown and pandemic-denying arguments, with journalists and scientists from Europe and Australia among those spreading misinformation to Ugandans at the group’s online events. One such event was hosted by ADF. Separately, ADF has also involved itself in three legal challenges opposing lockdown measures in Uganda.
21st Jan 2022 - Open Democracy

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Czech anti-coronavirus vaccine folk singer dies after deliberately getting infected with Covid-19, son says

A Czech folk singer who was opposed to having a coronavirus vaccine has died after deliberately contracting the virus, according to her son. Hana Horká, of the folk band Asonance, died Sunday at the age of 57 after intentionally exposing herself to the virus at home while her son and husband were sick, according to CNN Prima News. Horká wanted to infect herself so she could be "done with Covid," her son, Jan Rek, said.
20th Jan 2022 - CNN

Novak Djokovic’s Australian Visa Challenge Failed Due to Antivaccine Stance

Novak Djokovic’s last-ditch effort to defend his Australian Open title by having his visa reinstated failed because a court accepted that people, especially youngsters, could emulate the tennis icon’s opposition to being vaccinated. On Thursday, a panel of three judges at Australia’s federal court said they upheld a decision by immigration minister Alex Hawke to cancel the visa of the men’s tournament’s top seed partly because Djokovic’s presence in Australia had already created unrest, including a Jan. 11 protest involving the player’s supporters. Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday after the court decided earlier in the day that Hawke acted lawfully when he canceled Djokovic’s visa two days earlier, citing public interest.
20th Jan 2022 - Wall Street Journal

Austria Starts Lottery to Boost Support for Obligatory Vaccine

Austrian lawmakers were set to pass the European Union’s first law making coronavirus vaccinations mandatory as other member states ease restrictions in the latest wave of the pandemic. The parliament’s lower house was set to approve the policy on Thursday with additional support from most deputies in two opposition groups. Only the far-right Freedom Party rejects the plan.
20th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Cheap version of Merck COVID pill to be made for poorer nations

Nearly 30 generic drugmakers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East will make cheap versions of Merck & Co's COVID-19 pill, under a landmark U.N.-backed deal to give poorer nations wider access to a drug seen as a weapon in fighting the pandemic. Merck's early greenlight to production of its anti-viral pill molnupiravir by other companies during the pandemic is a rare example in the pharmaceutical sector, which usually protects its patented treatments for longer periods.
20th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Florida suspends health official who urged staff to get vaccinated

A top Florida public health official has been put on administrative leave as officials investigate whether he violated a state ban by emailing employees about their low vaccination rate against COVID-19 and urging them to get shots. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican widely believed to be planning a run for the U.S. presidency, in November signed a law banning schools, businesses and government entities from requiring vaccination against COVID-19, drawing condemnation from health experts and Democratic leaders.
20th Jan 2022 - Reuters

The pandemic is birthing billionaires and killing the poor

We enter 2022 witnessing the biggest increase in billionaire wealth since records began. A billionaire was created every 26 hours during this pandemic. The wealth of the world’s 10 richest men alone has doubled, rising at a rate of $15,000 per second. But COVID-19 has left 99 percent of humanity worse off. Our malaise is inequality. Inequality of income is now a stronger indicator of whether you will die from COVID-19 than age. In 2021, millions of people died in poorer countries with scant access to vaccines as pharmaceutical monopolies, protected by rich countries, throttled their supply. We minted new vaccine billionaires on the backs of denying billions of people access to vaccines.
20th Jan 2022 - AlJazeera

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Report: German police see surge in fake vaccine certificates

Police in Germany are investigating thousands of cases of suspected forgery of coronavirus vaccine certificates, the dpa news agency reported Wednesday. It cited figures obtained from the country's 16 states showing more than 12,000 police investigations have been opened nationwide. Those who supply or use fake certificates could face severe penalties, from fines and suspended prison sentences to losing their jobs. Prosecutors have opened a manslaughter investigation in one case after a woman used a fake vaccine certificate to continue working at a nursing home, despite having family members ill with COVID-19 at home.
19th Jan 2022 - The Independent

Canadian truckers block highway at US border to protest Covid vaccine mandates

Dozens of Canadian truck drivers have blocked the highway near the US-Manitoba international border to protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates. Videos shared on social media showed truck drivers carrying Canadian flags and holding a demonstration on the Manitoba Highway 75, which connects the Emerson community in Manitoba with the US city of Pembina in North Dakota. The demonstration slowed down traffic on both sides and caused delays for vehicles both entering and leaving Canada.
19th Jan 2022 - The Independent

Fuzzy Hamsters Are Hong Kong’s Newest Enemy in Its Covid-Zero Campaign

Authorities ordered some 2,000 hamsters in Hong Kong to be killed over concerns that the animals may have transmitted Covid-19 to humans, one of the city’s latest measures to try to stamp out a fresh outbreak. Under the latest order, authorities will cull the animals at almost three dozen pet shops across the city, including a store selling small animals linked to two recent Covid-19 infections in the city. One of the two infections was an employee at the pet store, while another was a recent visitor to the store, authorities said. Health chiefs said the order was being made out of prudence as there was no international evidence that pets can transmit the Covid-19 to humans.
19th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Worker Absences in U.K. Fall in Sign of Omicron Wave Ebbing Away

Omicron’s grip on the U.K. economy is weakening, with falling Covid-19 case numbers mirrored by a drop in worker absences during the second week of January. The estimated number of people missing work in the U.K. from Jan. 10 through Jan. 16 stood at almost 2.7 million, a 3% decrease from a year earlier and down from 3.1 million in the first week of this year, according to data from GoodShape, which tracks work-related illness and wellbeing at U.K. employers. The lower level of absence meant the U.K. economy lost 112 million pounds ($152 million) less compared to the same period in 2021, GoodShape estimates showed.
19th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Australia calls on backpackers to help ease Omicron-fuelled labour shortage

Australia threw out an invitation to backpackers on Wednesday, seeking reinforcements for a workforce crippled by an Omicron COVID-19 outbreak as the country's health system creaks under the pandemic's strain with more deaths predicted in weeks ahead. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government was waiving the A$630 ($453) visa application fee for any backpacker or student who arrives in Australia within the next 12 weeks, and encouraged them to see work as they tour the country. "Come on down now because you wanted to come to Australia," Morrison said during a televised press conference.
19th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Young Brazilians Studying Less, Dropping Out More During Covid

Young Brazilians are studying less and dropping out more during the pandemic, reversing decades of educational advances and exacerbating the country’s demographic inequalities, a new study found. School dropout rates among children aged 5-9 years old rose from 1.4% in 2019 to 5.5% by the end of 2020, the highest percentage seen since 2006, according to research from the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a Brazilian think tank. Although the dropout rate improved to 4.25% in the third quarter of 2021, that was still 128% higher than before the pandemic. “Younger children, the age group in which we have made great educational advances in the last 40 years, is where we are having the greatest losses,” co-author and economist Marcelo Neri said during a phone interview Wednesday. There was also a socioeconomic gap when it came to time spent hitting the books when school wasn’t in session.
19th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

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Merck signs supply deal with UNICEF for 3 mln courses of COVID-19 pill

Merck & Co Inc and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said on Tuesday they had signed an agreement with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to supply up to 3 million courses of their COVID-19 antiviral pill. Merck would supply the pill, molnupiravir, to UNICEF through the first half of 2022 for distribution in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries upon regulatory authorizations, the companies said. The pill received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December and has also been authorized in several other countries including India, Mexico and the UK. Many countries have signed supply deals with Merck for the drug.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Analysis: With Omicron, global economy spots chance to push past COVID

Governments worldwide are easing quarantine rules, reviewing coronavirus curbs and dialling back pandemic-era emergency support as they bid to launch their economies back into some version of normality. The moves, motivated by the lower severity of the Omicron variant and the need to keep workers in work and the global recovery on track, have generated a whiff of optimism that has lifted oil and stock prices. Health experts say the variant's rapid spread may yet herald a turning point in the pandemic.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Your Child's Fussy Eating May Stem From Covid-19

Covid infection could be turning more and more children into fussy eaters, experts have suggested. This may be because they are suffering from parosmia - a disorder where people experience strange and often unpleasant smell distortions. For example, chocolate may smell like petrol, or someone may smell rotting cabbage instead of lemon. Smell experts at the University of East Anglia and Fifth Sense, the charity for people affected by smell and taste disorders, say children in particular may be finding it hard to eat foods they once loved. Fifth Sense and Carl Philpott, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, are launching guidance to help parents and healthcare professionals better recognise the disorder.
18th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Morrisons confirms sick pay cut for unvaccinated staff

Supermarket Morrisons has confirmed it has cut sick pay for unvaccinated workers who are forced to isolate after being exposed to Covid. It follows similar moves from big retailers including Ikea, Next and Ocado as staff absences rise. Unjabbed Morrisons workers who are told to isolate but test negative now get statutory sick pay of £96.35 a week. Covid-positive staff get full sick pay regardless of vaccination status. The firm pays staff at least £10 per hour.
18th Jan 2022 - BBC News

Uncorking today’s Covid-19 supply chain to meet the challenges of future pandemics

At what point do the benefits of local production of medical supplies outweigh the potentially higher cost? The sudden and near-overwhelming demand for Covid-19 testing during the Omicron phase of the pandemic means that the U.S. is now at a critical point where we need better — and quicker — access to testing supplies via a domestic supply chain. Over the last three decades, the world’s economy has become increasingly globalized, resulting in lower inflation-adjusted prices for goods and products and improved standards of living around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to once again debate the United States’ reliance on inexpensive overseas manufacturing, and reconsider the value of high-quality domestic production.
18th Jan 2022 - STAT News

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Beijing Olympics tickets will not be publicly sold due to COVID-19

Olympics set to begin on Feb. 4 will be distributed to "targeted" groups of people and will not be sold to the general public, the organising committee said on Monday, in the latest setback to the Games inflicted by COVID-19.
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

The poor die from COVID while the rich get richer, Oxfam warns

The wealth of the 10 richest men has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, stoking inequality that contributes to the deaths of at least 21,300 people each day, according to a report released on Monday by Oxfam International. “We enter 2022 with unprecedented concern,” Oxfam’s Inequality Kills report warns, arguing that the current global state of extreme inequality is a form of “economic violence” against the world’s poorest people and nations. In this deeply unequal world, structural and systemic policy and political choices are skewed in favour of the richest and most powerful, resulting in harm to the majority of ordinary people around the world, said the report, which highlighted the COVID-19 vaccine divide as a prime example. “Millions of people would still be alive today if they had had a vaccine — but they are dead, denied a chance while big pharmaceutical corporations continue to hold monopoly control of these technologies,” said Oxfam. The report calculates that 252 men have more wealth than all one billion women and girls in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean combined. And 10 of the world’s richest men own more than the least affluent 3.1 billion people.
17th Jan 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Don’t demonise those who refuse the Covid vaccine

I read David Green’s letter on anti-vaxxers (12 January) and empathised with the letter written in response (13 January). The week before Christmas my dad died of Covid. The intensive care consultant couldn’t have been clearer that, in her opinion, if he had been vaccinated he would not have developed Covid pneumonia to the severity that he did. He died very frightened and asking his family to come and be with him, and we couldn’t. The experience traumatised my sister so badly that she was hospitalised with psychosis three days after his passing. The reason he wasn’t vaccinated is because his mind was poisoned with conspiracy theories and misinformation exacerbated by two years of lockdown and reduced social contact. While I am angry that he would not get vaccinated, I don’t think any good would ever come from criminalising his choice. Is it not anti-vaxxers who should be demonised and prosecuted. It is the people, organisations and companies who perpetuate lies and make money from the fear felt by vulnerable people.
17th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Omicron Variant Encourages Some to Move Past Covid-19 Precautions, Despite Risks

Omicron’s ubiquity and reduced severity are encouraging some people to drop pandemic precautions, decisions that public-health experts say present new risks for people at risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes. People, including those who got vaccinated and boosted and curtailed their activities for months, are letting their guard down in the face of a variant that appears to be infecting everyone but causing largely mild illness.
17th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Anti-vaccine far-right rally attracts hundreds in Hungary

Over a thousand people marched in Budapest protesting against COVID-19 inoculation at a rally organised by the far-right Our Homeland Movement, which has been campaigning on a fierce anti-vaccine and anti-immigration message ahead of April 3 elections. "Vaccines should not be mandatory! We don't tolerate blackmail," said the slogan of the rally where people held up banners saying: "I am unvaccinated, not a criminal" and "Enough of COVID dictatorship."
17th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Chinese cities on high COVID-19 alert as peak Lunar New Year travel season starts

Several Chinese cities went on high COVID-19 alert as the Lunar New Year holiday travel season started on Monday, requiring travellers to report their trips days before their arrival, as the Omicron variant reached more areas including Beijing. Authorities have warned the highly contagious Omicron adds to the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission as hundreds of millions of people travel around China for the Lunar New Year on Feb. 1.
17th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Protest in Netherlands against coronavirus measures

Thousands of protesters packed Amsterdam's streets on Sunday in opposition to the government-imposed COVID-19 measures and vaccination campaign as virus infections hit a new record. Authorities were granted stop and search powers at several locations across the city and scores of riot police vans patrolled neighbourhoods where the demonstrators marched with banners and yellow umbrellas. Regular anti-coronavirus protests are held across the country and Sunday's large gathering was joined by farmers who drove to the capital and parked tractors along the central Museum Square.
16th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Malta sees biggest protest yet against COVID measures

Malta saw its biggest protest yet against COVID rules on Sunday, with hundreds of people marching in the capital Valletta against new measures requiring production of a COVID certificate for entry to most venues including restaurants, gyms and bars. Malta has seen one of the biggest take-ups of COVID vaccination jabs in the European Union, and almost three-quarters of adults would have taken the additional booster jab by Sunday, according to Health Ministry data.
16th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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Polish COVID advisers quit over lack of science influence on policy

Thirteen of the 17 members of Poland's Medical Council advising the prime minister on COVID-19 resigned on Friday, condemning what they said was a lack of scientific influence on policy. Even with one of the world's highest per capita death rates, Poland has introduced much more limited measures than many European countries to curb the spread of the coronavirus during the latest wave of infections. "The discrepancy between scientific and medical rationale and practice has become especially glaring in the context of the very limited efforts in the face of the autumn wave and then the threat of the Omicron variant, despite the enormous number of deaths expected," the 13 council members said in a statement to Reuters, confirming a report by the PAP state news agency.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

In rare move, Uruguay opens borders for residents infected with COVID-19

Uruguay has opened its borders to citizens and residents even if they are infected with COVID-19, a rare move amid surging cases worldwide, though passengers would need to travel in private vehicles across the border and be in a family "bubble". The South American country's government said the move was in "solidarity" with Uruguayans and residents who were infected with the virus abroad. "All Uruguayan travelers and resident foreigners who have got Covid abroad may return to our country at any time," Uruguayan Health Minister Daniel Salinas said on his Twitter account on Friday.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

India extends ban on public events in election states as COVID cases rise

India's election commission extended its ban on political rallies and roadshows in five states on Saturday due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country. The ban, which runs to Jan. 22, excludes indoor political party events of less than 300 people, or at 50% of a venue's capacity, the watchdog said in a statement. India reported 268,833 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking its total tally to 36.84 million, according to data from the federal health ministry. Deaths from COVID-19 rose by 402 to 485,752.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Apple to require employee proof of COVID-19 booster

Apple Inc will require retail and corporate employees to provide proof of a COVID-19 booster shot, The Verge reported on Saturday, citing an internal email. Starting Jan. 24, unvaccinated employees or those who haven't submitted proof of vaccination will need negative COVID-19 tests to enter Apple workplaces, the report said. The Verge said it was not immediately clear if the testing requirement applies to both corporate and retail employees. "Due to waning efficacy of the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and the emergence of highly transmissible variants such as Omicron, a booster shot is now part of staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination to protect against severe disease," the memo read, according to The Verge.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Thousands protest in Vienna against mandatory vaccination

Thousands of people took to the streets of Austria's capital on Saturday to protest against government plans to introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all next month. "The government must go!" crowds chanted at one rally in central Vienna in what has become a routine Saturday event. Parliament is scheduled to vote next week on the issue, which has polarised the country as coronavirus cases surge.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Dutch announce COVID lockdown easing amid record infections

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday announced the reopening of stores, hairdressers and gyms, partially lifting a lockdown despite record numbers of new COVIC-19 cases. "We are taking a big step and that also means we're taking a big risk," Rutte told a televised press conference. Non-essential stores, hairdressers, beauty salons and other service providers will be allowed to reopen under strict conditions until 5 p.m. local time (1600 GMT) for the first time since mid-December. Rutte added that the uncertainties meant that bars, restaurants and cultural venues would have to remain closed until at least Jan. 25.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Spotify Pressured by 270 Scientists, Medical Professionals Over Joe Rogan Episode

A coalition of 270 scientists and medical professionals this week issued an open letter to Spotify Technology SA, urging the streaming platform to establish a misinformation policy after an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, among its most listened-to podcasts, promoted what they said were “baseless conspiracy theories” about the pandemic. The Dec. 31 program featured Robert Malone, a doctor who has called himself the “inventor” of mRNA vaccines, the type that serves as the basis for the Covid-19 vaccine. Malone was banned from Twitter for circulating anti-vaccine misinformation. YouTube deleted a recording of the Rogan podcast shortly after it was uploaded to the website by a third-party.
15th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Citigroup reaches 99% compliance on U.S. staff vaccine mandate

About 99% of Citigroup Inc's staff in the United States have complied with the company's COVID-19 vaccine requirements, the bank's Head of Human Resources Sara Wechter said in a LinkedIn post on Thursday. Citi staff in the U.S. who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 14 will be placed on unpaid leave and fired at the end of the month unless they are granted an exemption, Reuters reported last week, citing a memo.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Australia Says Djokovic’s Vaccination Stance Poses a Public Risk

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke barred the world men’s No. 1 tennis player despite saying Djokovic had entered Australia with a valid medical exemption from being vaccinated and presents a negligible health risk himself, according to court documents released Saturday. His ongoing presence, however, “may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests which may themselves be a source of community transmission,” Hawke said in the filing.
14th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

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French teachers walk out of classrooms in strike over Covid strategy

French teachers have held one of the biggest education strikes in recent years, forcing the closure of hundreds of primary schools in protest at the government’s handling of Covid-19 measures in the education sector. Tens of thousands of teachers took part in the one-day strike. Trade unions said 75% of primary teachers walked out alongside 62% of secondary teachers. The education ministry gave much lower figures on Thursday morning, saying there was an average of 38.5% of teachers on strike in primary schools, and just under 24% in high schools. Teachers and education support staff joined a protest march through the centre of Paris to the education ministry, and others demonstrated in towns across France.
13th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

So long Toronto: COVID-19 pandemic hastens Canada's urban exodus

Canada's urban exodus picked up steam into the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with tens of thousands of people leaving Toronto and Montreal for smaller cities or rural areas, official data showed on Thursday. More than 64,000 people left Toronto for other parts of Ontario from mid-2020 to mid-2021, up 14% from the previous 12-month period, according to Statistics Canada population estimates, with another 6,600 moving out of province.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Australian Open crowds capped at 50% capacity due to COVID

Crowds at the main Australian Open tennis stadiums will be capped at 50% capacity under updated COVID-19 restrictions, organisers said on Thursday, as authorities battle a surge of cases in Melbourne. Face masks will also be mandatory for all patrons, except when eating or drinking, and there will be density limits of one person per two square metres at indoor hospitality venues. Tennis Australia (TA) said the 50% cap only applied for ticket sales at the Rod Laver Arena centre court and the second show court Margaret Court Arena.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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Students at New York City’s Largest High School Stage Walkout Over Covid Protocols

Students at Brooklyn Technical High School in New York City staged a walkout today in protest of the school’s in-person teaching mandates during the omicron-fuellde Covid surge. The walkout, which went viral on Twitter, happened at the largest in-person high school in the state. Brooklyn Tech had 6,043 students enrolled during the 2020-2021 school year.
12th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Omicron wave prompts media to rethink which data to report

For two years, coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations have been widely used barometers of the pandemic’s march across the world. But the omicron wave is making a mess of the usual statistics, forcing news organizations to rethink the way they report such figures. “It’s just a data disaster,” said Katherine Wu, staff writer who covers COVID-19 for The Atlantic magazine. The number of case counts soared over the holidays, an expected development given the emergence of a variant more transmissible than its predecessors. Yet these counts only reflect what is reported by health authorities. They do not include most people who test themselves at home, or are infected without even knowing about it. Holidays and weekends also lead to lags in reported cases.
12th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

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5 reasons you should not deliberately catch Omicron to 'get it over with'

The idea of intentionally trying to catch Omicron is "all the rage," said Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, with an exasperated sigh. "It's caught on like wildfire," agreed Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Havey Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "And it's widespread, coming from all types of people, the vaccinated and boosted and the anti-vaxxers," he added, with a warning. "You'd be crazy to try to get infected with this. It's like playing with dynamite." In case the thought had crossed your mind, here are five reasons why you should not purposely try to catch Omicron.
11th Jan 2022 - CNN

Vaccine hesitancy changes over time: Attitudes toward vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic

Worldwide, vaccine hesitancy is proving to be a stumbling block to securing much needed protection against the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Now, researchers from Japan have uncovered specific factors that influence attitudes about vaccines, which is valuable knowledge for combating vaccine hesitancy. In a study published last month in Vaccines, researchers from the University of Tsukuba reported dramatic changes in vaccine acceptance over a five-month period during the COVID-19 pandemic. Detailed information about what causes these changes could help address low vaccine uptake in specific populations.
11th Jan 2022 - Medical Xpress

Anti-vax leader urges people to drink their urine instead of get vaccine in latest wild conspiracy

Some Anti-vaxxers will do anything to avoid taking the coronavirus vaccine, including, reportedly, drinking their own urine. The Daily Beast reports that a prominent figure in the anti-Covid-19 community, Christopher Key – who calls himself the "Vaccine Police" – is now telling his followers to drink their own urine in order to cure themselves of Covid-19.
11th Jan 2022 - The Independent

A million set to throng India's Ganges for holy dip despite COVID-19

Nearly one million Hindu worshippers are expected to gather on the banks of the Ganges river this Friday and Saturday for a holy bathe despite galloping COVID-19 infections across the country, an official told Reuters on Tuesday. India reported 168,063 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, a 20-fold rise in a month. Most infected people have recovered at home and the level of hospitalisations has been less than half of that seen during the last major wave of infections in April and May.
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Spain Calls for Debate to Consider Covid as Endemic, Like Flu

Spain is calling on Europe to debate the possibility that Covid-19 can now be treated as an endemic illness, setting a model to monitor its evolution akin to the one used for flu.
11th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

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Ikea Cuts Sick Pay for Unvaccinated Staff Ordered to Isolate

Ikea imposed a financial penalty on unvaccinated U.K. employees who miss work if they are ordered to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone with Covid-19. If these workers become ill with the virus themselves, however, they will still receive sick pay as normal, Ikea said in a statement to Bloomberg. The changes, which came into effect in September, mean that unvaccinated staff only receive statutory sick pay of 96.35 pounds ($131) a week during the 10-day isolation period -- which is much lower than average weekly wages before taxes.
10th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Pope backs COVID immunisation campaigns, warns of ideological misinformation

Pope Francis on Monday condemned "baseless" ideological misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, backing national immunisation campaigns and calling health care a moral obligation. Francis spoke in his yearly address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican, sometimes called his "State of the World" address because it is a broad survey of the global situation. His words to diplomats from nearly 200 countries marked the closest he has ever come to a de facto backing of vaccine mandates, which have become controversial in Italy and other European countries.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

French politician attacked by anti-COVID vaccine pass demonstrators

French politician Stephane Claireaux, who is a member of President Emmanuel Macron's ruling La Republique En Marche party, said on Monday that he had been attacked over the weekend by protesters demonstrating against France's COVID health pass. The attack on Claireaux, which occurred on Sunday, comes amid public anger in France after Macron said he wanted to "piss off" unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated they would end up getting the COVID vaccine.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Canada resists pressure to drop vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pushing ahead with a vaccine mandate for international truckers despite increasing pressure from critics who say it will exacerbate driver shortages and drive up the price of goods imported from the United States. Canada will require all truckers entering from the United States to show proof of vaccination starting on Saturday as part of its fight against COVID-19. That could force some 16,000, or 10%, of cross-border drivers off the roads, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) estimates. The government estimates 5% of drivers will be impacted, according to a government source.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Royal Caribbean pauses some cruise operations due to Omicron concerns

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has paused some of its cruise operations amid rising numbers of COVID-19 infections due to the Omicron variant. The sailings of three ships - Serenade of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas - have been paused while the return of its Vision of the Seas to cruising has been postponed to March 7, 2022, the cruise line said in a statement on Friday. "We regret having to cancel our guests' long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding," the company adding that these measures have been implemented "in an abundance of caution."
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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Citigroup to enforce 'no-jab, no-job' policy starting Jan. 14 - source

Citigroup Inc staff in the United States who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 14 will be placed on unpaid leave and fired at the end of the month unless they are granted an exemption, according to a company memo seen by Reuters on Friday. The U.S. bank announced its plan to impose new vaccination rules in October and now becomes the first major Wall Street institution to follow through with a strict vaccine mandate.
7th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Covid: Thousands protest in France against proposed new vaccine pass

French authorities say more than 105,000 people have taken part in protests across the country against the introduction of a new coronavirus pass. A new draft law would in effect ban unvaccinated people from public life. Demonstrators in the capital, Paris, held placards emblazoned with phrases like "no to vaccine passes". Interior Ministry officials said 34 people were arrested and some 10 police officers were injured after the protests turned violent in some places. The bill, which passed its first reading in the lower house of France's parliament on Thursday, would remove the option of showing a negative Covid-19 test to gain access to a host of public venues.
8th Jan 2022 - BBC News

Smash and shout: Dutch find new ways to vent COVID-19 frustrations

One swinging a sledgehammer and the other a crowbar, twin brothers Steven and Brian Krijger grin as they take turns pulverising a Peugeot 106 spray-painted with the words "F*** COVID". They are participants in "CarSmash", a Dutch project aimed at providing locked-down locals with ways of releasing anger and frustration built up during a pandemic now entering its third year. Dutch bars, restaurants and most stores have been closed since mid-December, when curbs took effect that the government - battling to contain record numbers of coronavirus cases - is not due to review until Jan. 14.
7th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Boris Johnson Calls Out U.K. Anti-Vaxxers 'Spouting Nonsense' Online

Boris Johnson slammed anti-vaxxers spreading “nonsense” about Covid-19 on the internet, a change in tone he said was driven by the “tragedy” that so many people admitted to U.K. hospitals are not vaccinated. “I want to say to the anti-vax campaigners, who are putting this mumbo jumbo on social media, they are completely wrong,” Johnson told reporters at a vaccination center in the East Midlands on Thursday. “And you haven’t heard me say that before, because I want a voluntary approach.” While the U.K. has one of the highest levels of vaccinations in Europe -- 60% have had a third booster dose -- a small and vocal minority has consistently campaigned against vaccination. Johnson said 30-40% of patients coming into hospital with Covid-19 haven’t had any vaccine doses.
7th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

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Novak Djokovic Denied Entry to Australia Over Vaccine Fight

The family of Novak Djokovic accused Australia of trying to deny the top world tennis star a record 10th Grand Slam victory there, and his country’s president denounced what he called a “political campaign” over Covid-19 protocols. Djokovic’s lawyers mounted a legal challenge against Australia’s decision to hold him at a hotel used for detaining refugees and expel him after federal officials overruled a state vaccine exemption for the tennis star that sparked a national uproar. Due to compete in the Australian Open this month, the Serbian player offered insufficient proof to enter the country under current pandemic rules, the Australian Border Force said Thursday. While he was earlier granted a medical exemption to enter the state of Victoria, the federal government revoked that after officials questioned the athlete for hours at Melbourne Airport.
6th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Dogs to visit 3 school districts to sniff out COVID-19

Two dogs trained to detect an odor distinct to people who are sick with COVID-19 will visit three school districts in Bristol County this week. A black Labrador named Huntah and a golden Lab called Duke can detect the smell of the virus on surfaces and will sit to indicate when they pick up the scent. The dogs will visit schools in the Freetown, Lakeville and Norton school districts, WBZ-TV reported Tuesday. “With COVID, whether it’s the omicron, whether it’s the delta, our dogs will hit on it,” said Bristol County Capt. Paul Douglas. “And if there’s a new variant that comes out in six months, hopefully there isn’t, but if there is one, COVID is COVID.” Fairhaven School Superintendent Tara Kohler welcomed the dogs saying their presence shows students, “we are doing everything we can to mitigate the risk and I want them to feel secure and safe and not anxious about their surroundings.”
5th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

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Rio cancels Carnival street parades due to rising COVID-19 cases, Omicron threat

Rio de Janeiro has canceled street parades and parties during its world-famous Carnival for a second year due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and the threat from the arrival of the Omicron coronavirus variant, the city's mayor said on Tuesday. However, the spectacular parade by Rio's samba schools, which the public watches from the stands of the city's Marques de Sapucai Sambadrome, will go ahead, unlike last year, with health precautions to prevent spreading the virus, he said. Rio mayor Eduardo Paes announced after a meeting with health authorities that the city would call off the street events that draw hundreds of thousands of Carnival revelers each year.
5th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Bank of America to staff: Get a booster, we'll give a food bank $100

Bank of America Corp told workers on Wednesday it will donate $100 to local food banks for every one of its employees who gets a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot and notifies the bank before Jan. 31, according to a memo seen by Reuters. It is a new spin on the $100 financial incentives that some cities and states offered newly vaccinated residents, and comes as companies look for ways to protect staff and ultimately return to work in offices. Bank of America, the United States' second-largest bank, said it would donate up to $10 million for workers who get booster shots this month or who have already gotten the shot if they register that information with the bank.
5th Jan 2022 - Reuters

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Australia to push ahead with reopening amid record COVID-19 cases

Australia's government said the milder impact of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 meant the country could push ahead with plans to reopen the economy even as new infections hit a record of more than 37,000 and the number of people hospitalised rose. Record daily case numbers were reported on Monday in the states of Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, as well as the Australian Capital Territory. In New South Wales, there were 20,794 cases, higher than Sunday's figure but below the daily record of 22,577 set on Saturday, with testing numbers lower over the New Year's holiday weekend.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Texas Sues U.S. to Block Vaccine Requirement for National Guard

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sued the Biden administration Tuesday, seeking to halt a requirement that National Guard members be vaccinated against Covid-19. Earlier in the day, Mr. Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Military Department, ordering it not to force Texas Guardsmen to receive vaccines. “Unless President Biden federalizes the Texas National Guard…he is not your commander-in-chief,” the letter said. “I will not tolerate efforts to compel receipt of a Covid-19 vaccine.” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III ordered in August that all service members be vaccinated for Covid-19, saying that healthy forces are necessary for a national defense.
4th Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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Omicron Surge Stymies Public-Transit Systems

Public-transit services in New York and other cities are being interrupted, as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continues to drive staffing shortages. Service on several New York City subway and bus lines was partially suspended Monday. An MTA spokesman said hundreds of employees have been out sick in recent days. He declined to give an exact number or say how many workers have tested positive for Covid-19, adding that the agency doesn’t track specific illnesses. MTA ridership is down about 50% compared with pre-pandemic levels, New York City Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano said. The MTA is currently running over 90% of the buses and trains it typically operates, he said. Mr. Cipriano said that the MTA has contingency plans that outline service tweaks in case of staff shortages on any given day.
3rd Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Omicron-related disruptions cause over 4000 flight cancellations to kick off 2022

Over 4,000 flights were cancelled around the world on Sunday, more than half of them U.S. flights, adding to the toll of holiday week travel disruptions due to adverse weather and the surge in coronavirus cases caused by the Omicron variant. The flights cancelled by 8 pm GMT on Sunday included over 2,400 entering, departing from or within the United States, according to tracking website FlightAware.com. Globally, more than 11,200 flights were delayed. Among the airlines with most cancellations were SkyWest and SouthWest, with 510 and 419 cancellations respectively, FlightAware showed.
3rd Jan 2022 - Reuters

Brazil health agency warns against boarding cruise ships amid COVID-19 outbreaks

Brazilian health agency Anvisa on Sunday warned passengers against boarding cruise ships operating along the Brazilian coast after outbreaks of COVID-19 affecting crew and customers, according to a statement on its website. The move follows a call for the "immediate temporary interruption of the cruise ship season in Brazil" as they pose a risk to public health. "In view of recent events, Anvisa does not recommend the embarkation of passengers who have trips scheduled on cruise ships for the next few days," the statement said.
3rd Jan 2022 - Reuters

Dutch police disperse thousands protesting against lockdown measures

Riot police with batons and shields broke up a crowd of several thousand who had gathered in Amsterdam on Sunday to protest against COVID-19 lockdown measures and vaccinations. Public gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under restrictions imposed by the Netherlands in an effort to prevent the Omicron variant of the coronavirus overwhelming an already strained healthcare system. At least 30 people were detained after scuffles, during which four officers were injured, police said in a statement. Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema had issued an emergency ordinance, empowering police to clear the central Museum Square, after the protesters defied a ban on public gatherings.
2nd Jan 2022 - Reuters

Kuwait encourages citizens to leave UK on Omicron fears

The Kuwaiti embassy in the United Kingdom has encouraged its citizens to leave the country due to a "significant and unprecedented" increase in Omicron cases there, the Gulf country's state news agency reported on Sunday. The daily number of new COVID-19 infections across Britain rose to a record 189,846 on Friday, far higher than during previous peaks.
2nd Jan 2022 - Reuters

New Year celebrations muted by Omicron, but South Africa ...

The Australian city of Sydney was one place where the New Year charged in with something like full swagger, as spectacular fireworks glittered in the harbour above the Opera House. But many other landmark cities were forgoing pyrotechnics as midnight rolled across the globe, with displays called off at Paris's Arc de Triomphe, London's riverside and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. The glittering ball is still due to drop at New York's Times Square, but the crowd shouting out the countdown of the year's exit is set to be a quarter the usual size - masked up, socially distanced, and with vaccine proof in hand. Still, South Africa, which first raised the alarm about the new fast-spreading coronavirus variant, gave the world one of the last big good surprises of the year, becoming the first country to declare its Omicron wave had crested - and with no huge surge in deaths. The abrupt lifting
1st Jan 2022 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

UK honours COVID scientists and medics, Bond actor Daniel Craig

Britain recognised the scientists and medical chiefs at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 in Queen Elizabeth’s annual New Year’s honours list, while James Bond actor Daniel Craig was given the same award as his famous onscreen character.
31st Dec 2021 - Reuters UK

COVID-19: Police appeal for information after dozens of anti-vaxxers protest at testing site

Police have appealed for information after an anti-vaccine demonstration took place at a COVID testing centre in Milton Keynes. Footage from the protest showed a woman appearing to pick up medical equipment and papers from the site and then dumping them in a nearby bin. Another demonstrator allegedly knocked down a sign, and another man apparently threw a couple of traffic cones. Dozens of people were seen in the video, including some who were holding anti-vaccine placards and shouting anti-vaccine slogans. Police said that "where criminal offences have been disclosed, we will take swift action and bring offenders to justice".
30th Dec 2021 - Sky News

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CDC Investigating 86 Cruise Ships With Covid-19 Cases

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating or monitoring 86 cruise ships with reported Covid-19 cases on board, according to a list posted on its website Tuesday, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads around the world. The CDC investigates a ship if there are one or more reported Covid-19 cases among the crew or if cases reported account for at least 0.10% of total passengers in the past seven days. For a ship with 6,500 passengers, that would mean seven cases would trigger an investigation. As part of the investigation, the CDC works with the cruise ship to lower transmission and ensure medical resources on board aren’t overwhelmed, according to the agency. It also gathers additional information such as case exposure histories, vaccination rates and details about close contacts.
29th Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

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Dutch Travel to Germany, Belgium to Avoid Lockdown

A new lockdown in the Netherlands has had an unexpected consequence: packed roads and shopping streets in neighboring Belgium and Germany. Faced with the spread of the omicron variant across Europe, the Dutch government introduced new restrictions on social contact on Dec. 19, closing non-essential stores and shuttering hospitality businesses at 5 p.m. But some Dutch people haven’t stopped shopping and celebrating. Instead, they simply moved these activities to countries where stores, restaurants and bars remain open.
26th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

United, Delta cancel more than 200 U.S. Christmas Eve flights amid COVID surge

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have canceled hundreds of Christmas Eve flights, as the spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant takes a toll on its flight crews and other workers. Chicago-based United on Thursday canceled 120 flights for Friday, while Atlanta-based Delta said it had canceled about 90. Both said they were working to contact passengers so they would not be stranded at airports. FlightAware on Friday said United has now canceled 169 flights on Christmas Eve and Delta has canceled 127, along with another 50 canceled flights for United on Christmas and 89 for Delta.
24th Dec 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

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Despite consumption hit, China to stand fast on tough COVID-19 curbs

China's strict COVID-19 policy is weighing on consumption and rattling foreign firms, but its effectiveness and the imperative to maintain stability heading into a sensitive year mean Beijing will stick to its approach, experts say. China has reported just two COVID-19 fatality this year, retaining a tough line even as many other countries ease restrictions, imposing targeted shutdowns and travel curbs even when they disrupted local economies. Avoiding major outbreaks is especially critical in a year when Beijing hosts both the Winter Olympic Games and the once-every-five-years Communist Party Congress, where President Xi Jinping is expected to clinch a third term as party secretary.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Is It Safe to Fly Right Now? Omicron May Double Infection Risk on Planes: IATA

Aircraft passengers are twice or even three times more likely to catch Covid-19 during a flight since the emergence of the omicron variant, according to the top medical adviser to the world’s airlines. The new strain is highly transmissible and has become dominant in a matter of weeks, accounting for more than 70% of all new cases in the U.S. alone. While hospital-grade air filters on modern passenger jets make the risk of infection much lower on planes than in crowded places on the ground such as shopping malls, omicron is rapidly spreading just as more travelers take to the skies for year-end holidays and family reunions.
22nd Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Singapore to freeze new ticket sales for quarantine-free arrivals

Singapore will freeze the sale of tickets for arriving flights and buses under its quarantine-free travel programme for four weeks from Thursday, the government said, citing the risk from the fast-spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant. Under the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) programme, Singapore allows quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from certain countries on designated flights or buses. The travellers have to undergo regular testing. About two dozen countries are listed in the programme including Australia, India, Malaysia, Britain and the United States.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Scotland cancels public New Year events as new COVID curbs announced

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday said public New Year's Eve celebrations in Scotland would be cancelled as she set out plans for post-Christmas restrictions on large scale events to try to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. Britain has reported record levels of COVID-19 cases over the past week, with officials and ministers warning that hospitalisations are also rising. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under pressure from many in his own party not to introduce further curbs, held off announcing new restrictions for England following a cabinet meeting on Monday but said they may yet be needed
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

Belgian researchers warn against holiday reliance on COVID antigen tests

Belgian researchers on Tuesday issued a pre-holiday warning against over-reliance on COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, saying they believed the breath of people infected with the disease had high levels of virus in the first two days after an infection -- a period when many antigen tests were negative. The organizations involved said they were communicating their findings in advance of a peer-reviewed publication in the interests of public health, as many families may be planning to use antigen tests as a way of screening for illness before family gatherings. "A negative rapid antigen test just before a meeting offers no guarantee to protect others, in particular when the person tested has recently been exposed to the virus," said Emmanuel Andre, a microbiologist at KU Leuven, which conducted the research together with UZ Leuven, a university hospital, and IMEC, a microelectronics think-tank.
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

Israel Bets Travel Restrictions Will Buy It Time to Fight Omicron

As the Omicron variant spreads quickly across the world, Israel has leaned more heavily than other countries on shutting down its borders to international travel, wagering it would slow down a coming wave of infections and buy time to prepare. So far, Israel has closed its borders to foreigners and has also banned its residents from traveling to dozens of countries, including the U.S. and Canada, the U.K., much of Europe and most of Africa. “Our sole aim is to delay this massive local transmission,” Prof. Ran Balicer, a senior adviser to the government on the pandemic, said Monday while explaining the travel restrictions to journalists in a briefing organized by the Europe Israel Press Association.
21st Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

NFL could become trend-setter for COVID-19 testing policies

The NFL’s decision to reduce COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic, vaccinated players could signal a trend for pro sports leagues and provide an example for society to follow heading into 2022. Despite a rising number of positive cases that forced three games to be rescheduled over the weekend, the NFL, in cooperation with the players’ union, agreed on Saturday to scale back testing for vaccinated players. The move aligns with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends “diagnostic testing” only for symptomatic or close-contact vaccinated people, and “screening tests” only for unvaccinated people. The NFL previously required vaccinated players to get tested weekly before amending the protocols. The NFLPA had advocated for daily testing for vaccinated players but eventually agreed to “target” testing.
21st Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

Edinburgh’s New Year Celebrations Scrapped After Omicron Surge

Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay street celebrations at New Year were canceled again after a surge in cases of the omicron variant in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. The government will also limit the number of fans at soccer matches to 500 from Dec. 26 for three weeks. More money will also be made available to support businesses after an increase in funding from the U.K. Treasury, albeit falling short of what Scotland would like to spend, she said. The omicron variant of Covid-19 is currently ripping through the country and is more transmissible than previous strains. The priority is to deliver all booster vaccinations for adults and ensure that schools can reopen as normal after the winter break, Sturgeon said.
21st Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Romanian crowd tries to storm parliament in protest at COVID-19 pass

Romanian protesters tried to force their way into parliament on Tuesday, blocking traffic and vandalising some cars in the capital Bucharest in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from making a COVID-19 health pass mandatory for workers. Riot police were caught off guard when hundreds of protesters poured in through a yard gate, spray painting cars and forcing security staff to block the building's entryways. The protesters later left. Police did not use force. While the ruling coalition of centrists and leftists is currently negotiating the terms of a health pass mandate, no such bill is on parliament's legislative agenda at the moment.
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s Covid plan: decided by Tory rebels

Mr Johnson’s behaviour, and the suggestion that he is beholden to no one, has provoked a crisis of government. Caught between the spread of a highly infectious Omicron variant and a Tory revolt, the prime minister dithered and delayed. His own scientific advisers say that there are likely to be between 1,000 and 2,000 Covid hospital admissions a day in England by the end of the year. The case for more Covid restrictions, they say, is overwhelming. Yet cabinet ministers dismiss the modelling – signalling to backbench rebels that they are with them. Others are perhaps afraid of being blamed for cancelling Christmas when people begin travelling around the country. Mr Johnson calculated that he was too weak in office to risk a Commons showdown with his party over new restrictions. Policy is being decided by Tory MPs, many of whom have no plan beyond “let Omicron rip”.
21st Dec 2021 - The Guardian

WHO urges people to consider canceling holiday plans amid omicron surge

World Health Organization Director-General is urging people across the globe to consider cancelling their holiday gatherings. “There can be no doubt that increased social mixing over the holiday period in many countries will lead to increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths,” Tedros said. White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci on Tuesday reiterated his claim that vaccinated Americans can feel comfortable communing with other vaccinated individuals.
21st Dec 2021 - The Hill

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Israel to add US, Canada to travel ban over omicron variant

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office announced the decision following a Cabinet vote. The rare move to red-list the U.S. comes amid rising coronavirus infections in Israel and marks a change to pandemic practices between the two nations with close diplomatic relations. The U.S. will join a growing list of European countries and other destinations to which Israelis are barred from traveling, and from which returning travelers must remain in quarantine.
20th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press on MSN.com

Death of child with Covid-19 prompts calls for Māori to be prioritised in NZ vaccine rollout

The first death of a child with Covid-19 in New Zealand has prompted calls for Māori children to be prioritised in the next stage of the vaccine rollout, as the country grapples with racial inequalities compounded by the pandemic. A Māori boy, under the age of 10 and who had tested positive for the virus, died last week, becoming the youngest New Zealander to die with Covid, the Ministry of Health confirmed. It is unclear whether Covid-19 was the cause of the boy’s death, as New Zealand records all deaths of people considered active Covid cases in its official count. It is the country’s 49th death of a Covid-positive person since the start of the pandemic. Māori make up an estimated 17.1% of the population but they have accounted for 32% of all Covid-19 related deaths.
20th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

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CNN closes U.S. offices to most workers as COVID-19 cases spike - memo

CNN is closing its offices in the United States to all nonessential employees as COVID-19 cases increase, the network said on Saturday in an internal memo to staff seen by Reuters. CNN, part of AT&T Inc's WarnerMedia division, will close its offices to all employees who do not have work in the office, the memo said. "We are doing this out of an abundance of caution," CNN President Jeff Zucker said in the memo. "And it will also protect those who will be in the office by minimizing the number of people who are there."
19th Dec 2021 - Reuters

London Mayor Declares ‘Major Incident’ as Omicron Cases Surge

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a “major incident” due to a rapid spread of the omicron variant across the U.K. capital, according to a statement. A major incident refers to an event or situation with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agencies. It is “beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations, and is likely to involve serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security,” the government said.
18th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

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Covid-19 Cancels Christmas Around Europe…Again

As Omicron variant spreads, mounting restrictions dash hopes of return to normal this festive season; France to place restrictions on tourists from U.K. From Spanish holidays to Greek celebrations to German circus performances, the Covid-19 pandemic has derailed plans and upended Christmas traditions across Europe for a second year in a row. After a surge in cases this fall dashed hopes of a normal festive season this year, authorities on the continent have tightened restrictions to avoid overwhelming hospitals. Expectations that the highly transmissible Omicron variant will soon take hold are further adding to the fears.
16th Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Army says nearly 98% got the COVID-19 vaccine by deadline

Nearly 98% of the active duty Army had gotten at least one dose of the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine as of this week's deadline for the shots, but more than 3,800 soldiers flatly refused and could start being removed from the military next month, officials said Thursday. The U.S. military's largest service, however, reported the lowest number of service members seeking a religious exemption — a bit more than 1,700 soldiers — compared with the other three smaller services. In comparison, there are more than 4,700 in the Air Force 3,000 in the Marine Corps and 2,700 in the Navy who are requesting religious exemptions, according to data released by the services in the past week. None has yet been approved.
16th Dec 2021 - The Independent

Queen Elizabeth cancels pre-Christmas lunch as COVID cases soar

Queen Elizabeth has cancelled a pre-Christmas lunch with her family as a precaution while cases of COVID-19 soar in Britain, a Buckingham Palace source said. "The decision is a precautionary one as it is felt to put too many people's Christmas arrangements at risk if it went ahead. "While there is regret that it is cancelled, there is a belief it is the right thing to do for all."
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

EU leaders struggle to find common ground on COVID travel rules

Divisions within the European Union have deepened over travel rules to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, after Italy and Greece followed Portugal and Ireland in announcing additional curbs on travellers from other EU states. The EU's 27 member states have been debating for weeks how to coordinate travel policy, with the aim of containing the virus without disproportionately disrupting travel within the border-free European Schengen area.
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Thousands protest COVID-19 rules as New Zealand marks 90% vaccine rates

Thousands marched in New Zealand's capital Wellington on Thursday to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and lockdowns, as the country reached the 90% fully vaccinated milestone. New Zealand's tough lockdown and vaccination drives have helped keep coronavirus infections and related deaths low, but it has also drawn criticism from some calling for more freedoms and an end to mandatory vaccine requirements. The government has mandated vaccinations for teachers, workers in the health and disability sectors, police and other public service sectors.
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Vaccine skeptics in Eastern Europe having change of heart

Some former vaccine skeptics in Eastern Europe have shifted over to the other side as coronavirus infections surge, countries are making it more difficult for the unvaccinated to travel abroad and authorities battle against government distrust and vaccine disinformation. When she rolled up her sleeve in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo to take her first COVID-19 vaccine dose, Fata Keco was afraid of possible adverse side effects. But she said the worst she had to contend with over the next few days was “moderately discomforting pain” in her left arm around the site of the injection. More significantly, the 52-year-old self-employed cleaning woman has joined the global community of vaccine-believers after months of “being very susceptible” to what she now describes as “the most ridiculous theories.”
16th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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German police foil 'anti-vaxxer murder plot' against state premier

German police have foiled a plot by anti-vaccination activists to murder the state premier of Saxony in eastern Germany, they said on Wednesday, as concerns grow over an increasingly violent pushback against COVID-19 vaccination plans. The plot to kill Michael Kretschmer is the latest in a series of incidents that underscore the anger of some Germans over restrictions on the unvaccinated and plans to make vaccinations compulsory for the general population. Saxony has one of Germany's highest levels of COVID-19 infection but also its lowest vaccination rate. It is a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which harbours many vaccine sceptics and anti-lockdown protesters.
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Shortage of vaccinated nannies adds fuel to US childcare crisis

As if working parents didn’t have it hard enough during the pandemic, now a shortage of vaccinated nannies, babysitters and day-care workers is making the seemingly impossible quest to find child care even harder. Almost every parent who comes to Tiny Treasures Nanny Agency, which makes nationwide placements, are seeking vaccinated providers. Yet, just 60% of the nannies looking to get work through the company have gotten the shots, according to founder Ruka Curate. The mismatch is creating a feeding frenzy for fully vaccinated, qualified nannies, driving hourly rates to eye-poppingly high levels. Six-figure jobs that two years ago would have been filled in a day are now met with resistance from inoculated child-care workers who realize they can ask for more money, Curate said.
15th Dec 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Covid vaccinations: 'We desperately need volunteers'

With the government announcing all over-18s are to be offered their booster jabs by the end of the year, vaccination centres are in dire need of more volunteers. The BBC spoke to some of those helping out at one centre in Essex. At the vaccination centre at Maldon District Council's offices, volunteers are helping marshal queues and vaccinate the thousands of people who turn up every week. Across Mid and South Essex, 7,500 jabs are administered every day - but that that needs to reach 22,000 by the end of December if every person eligible for a booster vaccine comes forward.
15th Dec 2021 - BBC News

SQREEM’s New AI-powered Study Examines Motivations Surrounding COVID-19 Vaccine Resistance in the US

Leveraging proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) built to understand online human behavior in a completely anonymous way, SQREEM Technologies ′ recent U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Study provides a striking insight into the attitudes and motivations of anti-vaxxers and the vaccine-hesitant. The study utilizes anonymized digital engagement scores as the main metric to understand audience relevance to topics/aspects surrounding COVID-19 vaccination. In the study, ‘anti-vaxxers’ are audiences that do not agree with the COVID-19 vaccine and its use, while ‘vaccine-hesitant’ are audiences that are reluctant to use the COVID-19 vaccine despite its availability. For both groups, digital engagement scores with values greater than 5 signify awareness, while values greater than 10 signify a strong engagement with the topic.
15th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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When Two Nations Are Divided by a Common Pandemic

Covid is possibly even more political in the U.S. than it is in the U.K., and the federal system allows for far greater differences in response between states. But Covid fatigue is universal and a political tripwire at this point. So is the U.K. right to regard omicron as such a serious danger? Let’s look at the evidence from South Africa, where the variant was first identified and provides the most data. Capital Economics Ltd. of London has produced these excellent charts.
15th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

U.S. Air Force removes 27 service members for refusing COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Air Force on Monday said 27 service members had been discharged for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the first active-duty troops believed to have been removed for declining the vaccine. The Pentagon made the vaccine mandatory for all service members in August and the vast majority of active-duty troops have received at least one dose. Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman for the Air Force, said the troops were given a chance to explain why they had refused to get vaccinated, but none of them were given exemptions.
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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U.S. Supreme Court rejects religious challenge to New York vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected challenges brought by a group of Christian doctors and nurses and an organization that promotes vaccine skepticism to New York's refusal to allow religious exemptions to the state's mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated against COVID-19. Acting in two cases, the justices denied emergency requests for an injunction requiring the state to permit religious exemptions while litigation over the mandate's legality continues in lower courts. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have granted the injunction.
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Thousands protest in Prague against COVID vaccine mandate

Several thousand people marched through the Czech capital on Sunday, protesting a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for certain groups including people age 60 and over. The participants didn’t wear face coverings or follow social distancing rules despite a request by police to do so. One person was detained. The protesters, chanting “Freedom!” alleged their constitutional rights are being violated. They said they weren’t against voluntary vaccination but opposed a vaccine mandate. The outgoing government released an order this week, making vaccination mandatory for the 60 and over age group, as well as medical personnel, police officers, firefighters and medical students.
13th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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Preparing for Omicron as a covid veteran

Now I’m disillusioned. I’ve seen how our medical trends with how to treat covid-19 can change by the hour, with self-declared experts always ready to criticise decisions and cherry pick evidence to follow. I’ve watched how systematically hospital systems continue to prioritise efficiency, rankings, and profits over patient centred care. I’ve learnt that I am nothing but one of millions of healthcare workers expected to come to work every day based solely on my own goodwill. The calls for the protection of healthcare workers with life insurance, disability insurance, and student debt forgiveness have been forgotten just as quickly as they were proposed. Lacking these investments in my personhood, it’s hard to feel like more than another faceless number in the system. My patients are now jaded too, as politics has entered their hospital bed. Some ask for ivermectin and refuse to have conversations about quarantine for family members they have exposed to the virus. They “other” me, seeing me as part of the healthcare system that mocks the political right, rather than as another human being at their bedside feeling just as vulnerable as they are to the pandemic. My vaccinated patients remind me of their status over and over again, as if trying to clue me in to give them preferential treatment or empathy for having a breakthrough infection. I empathise with both my patients who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, but I still leave each room feeling a sense of defeat, powerlessness, and anger that the pandemic persists.
11th Dec 2021 - The BMJ

London's Heathrow says business travellers cancelling over Omicron

London's Heathrow Airport said it was seeing high levels of business travellers cancelling over concerns they could be trapped overseas by travel restrictions triggered by the new Omicron variant of coronavirus. The airport said demand in November was down 60% on pre-pandemic levels, despite the United States reopening to transatlantic travel earlier in the month. The figures released on Friday show that the start of a gradual recovery seen in October, when demand was down 56%, had petered out. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye called on the British government to reduce restrictions as soon as it was safe to do so, including allowing UK nationals arriving from red list countries to isolate at home.
11th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Vaccinated, maskless crowds enjoy Christmas markets in Budapest

Traditional Christmas markets have opened in Budapest's main squares only for people vaccinated against COVID-19, but have drawn many tourists and locals alike even as central Europe battles a renewed surge of the coronavirus. There were no festive outdoor markets in Budapest a year ago as Hungary was in complete lockdown against the virus, before any vaccines were available. "It's great to have the market back. It was very depressing when I visited the square last year - it was decorated but there were no people," said Adrienn, bundled up in a black fur coat against the subzero cold in front of the Hungarian capital's neo-classical St. Stephen's Basilica.
11th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Ukraine spa town stands out amid nation’s vaccine hesitancy

A small spa town in western Ukraine is standing out in a European country where only 29% of the people have received COVID-19 vaccine shots, and locals credit their community spirit for fending off the worst of the pandemic. In Morshyn, a scenic town nestled at the Carpathian foothills in the Lviv region, 74% of its 3,439 residents had been fully vaccinated as of late November. While Ukrainian authorities have imposed new restrictions amid a surge of infections and deaths blamed on a slow pace of vaccination and designated the region around Morshyn as a “red zone” where most public places have been shut down, the wellness centers in Morshyn have remained fully open.
9th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

Coronavirus: Vaccine refused by more than 230 Hertfordshire hospital workers

More than 230 hospital workers in parts of Hertfordshire have refused to have a Covid-19 vaccination, NHS bosses said. Last month the government announced proposals that health workers undertaking any CQC-regulated activity should be fully vaccinated by April. A meeting of the West Herts Hospitals Trust board identified 239 staff who had so far refused the vaccination and the status of 132 staff was "unknown". The trust said 91% of its staff had been vaccinated. The report presented to the board said senior leaders and clinicians would play a role in proactively encouraging staff to take the vaccine, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
9th Dec 2021 - BBC News

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Maine activates National Guard amid hospital bed shortage

Maine's governor activated as many as 75 members of the Maine National Guard on Wednesday to help expand capacity at health care facilities. The state is dealing with a surge in COVID-19 that has challenged its hospitals. A record of 379 people were hospitalized Wednesday with the virus. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said the guard members will be used in non-clinical support roles. That will include supporting nursing facilities and helping to administer monoclonal antibodies to prevent serious illness from the virus and keep patients out of critical care, Mills said. Mills and other state officials said those steps will free up hospital beds. The announcement came as the state's largest hospital, Maine Medical Center, said it has postponed about 50% of surgeries because of the burden of COVID-19 on the facility.
8th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press on MSN.com

Unvaccinated parents highly unlikely to OK COVID vaccine for their kids

A research letter yesterday in JAMA Pediatrics shows that 25.6% of a sample of US parents responding to an online survey said they were hesitant to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19, and these parents were highly unlikely to approve of COVID vaccination for their children—by a wide margin. In the ongoing CHASING COVID nationwide cohort study, City University of New York researchers analyzed responses from the June 2021 survey of 1,162 parents of 1,651 children 2 to 17 years old. Willingness to have their children vaccinated varied from 8.3% to 13.9% in vaccine-hesitant parents, depending on the age of the child, compared with 64.9% to 86.4% among parents who had already gotten the COVID vaccine or were willing to receive it.
7th Dec 2021 - CIDRAP

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As many as 6 million eligible Britons may not have had a Covid jab. Who are they?

The Omicron variant has refocused attention on vaccination rates as data shows disparities in uptake across age, region and ethnicity. Hundreds of cases of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant have now been confirmed in the UK and experts have called for a renewed focus on vaccination rates.
7th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

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Some Covid-19 policies fuel violence against women and girls

The emergence of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 with its many mutations has rightly sparked global concern. Another Covid-related issue that should also spark concern, but continues to fly under the radar, is the endemic violence directed toward women and girls around the world that has been heightened by responses to the pandemic. On a recent visit to a tribal village in South India, I met with children, elders, and teachers, who told me how their lives have been affected by Covid-19. The implementation of crucial, but often blunt, public health measures such as stay-at-home policies and the disruption of key services like schools and health facilities have significantly eroded social well-being, isolation, income, and educational attainment. They have also increased violence against many women and girls.
6th Dec 2021 - STAT

Canadian employers, facing labor shortage, accommodate the unvaccinated

Canada's tight labor market is forcing many companies to offer regular COVID-19 testing over vaccine mandates, while others are reversing previously announced inoculation requirements even as Omicron variant cases rise. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government adopted one of the strictest inoculation policies in the world for civil servants and has already put more than 1,000 workers on unpaid leave, with thousands more at risk.
6th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Anti-lockdown protesters hit with water cannons and tear gas in Belgium

Belgium became the latest European country to see disorder linked to reimposed Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday. Police deployed water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters in Brussels rallying against new measures designed to slow the winter wave. The government announced new rules for the third Friday in a row last week in a bad to dampen infections and take pressure of the struggling health system. Thousands chanted ‘freedom, freedom’ while others carried anti-vax placards as the crowd headed towards the headquarters of the European Union.
6th Dec 2021 - Metro

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 6th Dec 2021

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Omicron Sounds Death Knell for Globalization 2.0

On top of an intensifying cold war between the U.S. and China and other seismic changes, the rapid spread of Covid-19’s newest variant could finish off our most recent phase of global integration.
5th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid Vaccines in Italy: New Rules Target Anti-Vax Supporters, Protests

Italy, which has one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates, is further cracking down on the small minority that has so far refused the shot. As of Monday, a green pass -- which is proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test -- will be required for buses, metro, local trains and hotels. It’s already compulsory for working, long-distance travel and most indoor venues. A new “reinforced” green pass, which can be obtained only with the vaccine or after recovering from Covid, will be required for many leisure activities, including eating inside restaurants, and going to theaters, cinemas, sporting and other public events.
5th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

German COVID-19 rules put off shoppers, says retailer group

The tighter restrictions Germany has introduced to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 are putting people off from shopping in the usually busy run-up to Christmas, the country's association of retailers (HDE) said on Sunday. The HDE said sales in bricks-and-mortar non-food retail were down an average of 26% in the last week compared to the pre-crisis year of 2019, according to a survey of some 1,600 firms. Clothing retailers were particularly hard hit, with sales down 35% on the pre-crisis level.
5th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Hundreds march against COVID-19 restrictions in Belgium

Belgian police used water cannon and tear gas Sunday to disperse some rowdy protesters in Brussels after most demonstrators marched peacefully to protest tightened COVID-19 restrictions that aim to counter a surge of coronavirus infections. Thousands came to reject the new measures announced Friday, the third week in a row that the government has tightened its rules as an avalanche of new cases strains the country’s health services, depriving people with other life-threatening diseases of treatment.
5th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press on MSN.com

Germany: incoming minister advises against Christmas travel

Germany’s incoming transport minister is advising people against traveling over Christmas as the country tries to stem a wave of coronavirus infections. Federal and state leaders on Thursday announced tough new restrictions that largely target unvaccinated people, preventing them from entering nonessential stores, restaurants, sports and cultural venues. In a longer-term move, parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate. Volker Wissing, whose pro-business party has designated him as transport minister in the incoming government, told Sunday’s edition of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that “in the current situation, it seems more sensible to spend Christmas in a small group at home and not to plan big trips across the country.” “Winter 2021 will be more dramatic than winter 2020,” he added.
5th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

We Have to Live With Covid. Here's How We Get Our Lives Back

Two years into the pandemic, the emergence of yet another Covid-19 variant has brought home the fact that the virus is here to stay. That means the world will need to find long-term strategies to co-exist with delta, omicron and the strains to come. As governments reopen at varying paces, there are things individuals and companies can do to navigate a careful return to some kind of normalcy. Simple but permanent changes in how people live and work can limit the risks. “So far, the governments have been responsible for people’s behavior but I don’t think they will intervene so much anymore, and it’s becoming individual choice,” said Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong.
5th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

More than 40000 march in Vienna against coronavirus lockdown

More than 40,000 people marched through Vienna on Saturday to protest against a lockdown and plans to make vaccinations compulsory to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Faced with a surge in infections, the government last month made Austria the first country in Western Europe to reimpose a lockdown and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February. People carried signs saying: "I will decide for myself", "Make Austria Great Again", and "New Elections" - a nod to the political turmoil that has seen three chancellors within two months - as crowds gathered.
5th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Two hippos in Belgian zoo test positive for COVID-19

Two hippos have tested positive for COVID-19 at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium in what could be the first reported cases in the species, zoo staff said. Hippos Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien have no symptoms apart from a runny nose,