Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Apr 2021

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Ivanka Trump causes MAGA meltdown after sharing photograph getting vaccine

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump took to Twitter to announce that she got the Covid-19 shot and encouraged others to do the same, a move that has caused a meltdown among anti-vaxxers and conservative supporters of the former president. The former first daughter broke her three months of social media silence on Wednesday posting a photo of her taking the coronavirus vaccine injection, with the accompanying note: “Today, I got the shot!!! I hope that you do too! Thank you Nurse Torres!!!” Ms Trump’s enthusiastic tweet about the coronavirus vaccine met with several angry responses from Trump supporters who called it a disappointment and accused her of “virtue signalling.”
15th Apr 2021 - The Independent

Shop workers, hairdressers and bar staff key to tackling loneliness and mental health in pilot scheme launched in York

Shop workers, hairdressers and bar staff across North Yorkshire will be part of a new scheme aimed at tackling isolation, loneliness and mental health following the Covid-19 pandemic. The pilot - named Community Conversations - will be launched in the Groves and Clifton areas of York and will involve staff at numerous businesses and organisations having specialist free training to help them spot the signs that someone may be at risk of mental health and as a result engage with them and signpost them to help and support.
15th Apr 2021 - Yorkshire Post

Homeless Americans finally getting a chance at COVID-19 shot

Homeless Americans who have been left off priority lists for coronavirus vaccinations — or even bumped aside as states shifted eligibility to older age groups — are finally getting their shots as vaccine supplies increase. While the U.S. government has only incomplete data on infections among homeless people, it’s clear that crowded, unsanitary conditions at shelters and underlying poor health increase the danger of COVID-19 infections, severe complications and death. COVID-19 outbreaks have been documented at homeless shelters in cities such as Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. Vaccinating in vulnerable areas will be a key to achieving herd immunity, the goal of building a barrier of protected people to stop uncontrolled spread.
15th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

1 in 5 Americans say they won't get COVID-19 vaccine

A poll published yesterday from Monmouth University found that 1 in 5 Americans remain unwilling to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Partisanship continues to be the defining factor determining which Americans are willing to get vaccinated and which are not: 43% of Republicans say they will avoid the vaccine, compared with just 5% of Democrats, and 22% of independents say they want to avoid getting the vaccine altogether. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows 45% of Republicans are unwilling to get the vaccine. A poll from the University of Michigan also suggests age may be a factor. Only 20% of teens and young adults polled last October said they were unwilling to get vaccinated, and that percentage shrank to 15% last month.
15th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

Unsung COVID vaccine heroes—and biotech science giants—star on influencer's TikTok

Ready to meet the science heroes behind the world's first COVID vaccines? Ready to watch them dance on TikTok? Anna Blakney thinks you are. She’s an assistant professor and vaccine researcher at the University of British Columbia coaxing some of the mega-accomplished scientists behind the vaccines to join her in off-the-cuff choreography and conversation. So far, she’s been joined by Robert Langer, MIT Institute professor and Moderna co-founder, and Pieter Cullis, the co-founder of Acuitas Therapeutics behind the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.
15th Apr 2021 - FiercePharma

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Apr 2021

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Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy: Not helpful to 'lump people together' under BAME, says public health expert

Tackling Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in minority ethnic communities in Scotland is not helped by grouping people together under the Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) umbrella, a public health expert has said.
14th Apr 2021 - The Scotsman on MSN.com

‘Super-spreader’: Over 1,000 COVID positive at India’s Kumbh Mela

More than 1,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at the site of a major Hindu festival in India in two days, officials said, as huge crowds of mostly maskless devotees descend on the Ganges River in the northern Uttarakhand state. The virus was detected in the city of Haridwar, which lies along the river where the weeks-long Kumbh Mela, or the pitcher festival, is being observed, officials said. Of some 50,000 samples taken from people in Haridwar, 408 tested positive on Monday and 594 on Tuesday, the Uttarakhand government said.
14th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

It's time to reward our Covid-19 heroes

In Wales, community has garnered a new sense of importance over the past year. Local businesses have taken priority, neighbourly support thrives within every street, and community spirit has carried us through our darkest days. Emotionally, financially, physically and socially, there are community heroes who have dedicated hours upon hours to helping others, and this year's South Wales Evening Post Community Awards will celebrate them. On Thursday, April 29, the South Wales Evening Post Community Awards will be streamed virtually so that we can both support our community and keep everyone safe, too.
14th Apr 2021 - WalesOnline

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Apr 2021

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Covid-19: Government faces legal action over contract for antibody tests

The non-profit organisation the Good Law Project has been given the go ahead to mount a High Court challenge to the UK government’s decision to award contracts to Abingdon Health to produce rapid antibody tests for covid-19. The Department of Health and Social Care for England bought a million lateral flow test kits from the UK Rapid Testing Consortium, a group of manufacturers led by Abingdon Health and assembled by John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and the government’s life sciences adviser. The contract, which was awarded without competitive tender, included a provision for the government to buy more kits if the test was approved for home use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency by a specified date. But the approval was not forthcoming, and England’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced in January that the government was moving to a different procurement strategy.
13th Apr 2021 - The BMJ

Ramadan 2021: Muslims can get Covid-19 jab without breaking fast, Manchester’s public health chief confirms

Muslims are being advised that they can take the Covid-19 vaccine during Ramadan without breaking fast. Taking a coronavirus test, either PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or lateral flow test (LFT), is also safe during this time, Manchester’s public health chief has added. The month of Ramadan is marked by acts of devotion, including completely abstaining from eating or drinking between dawn and sunset. Islamic scholars, working in partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain, have shared messages of reassurance to worshipers confirming that getting the Covid-19 vaccine during Ramadan is permitted.
13th Apr 2021 - Manchester Evening News

Befriending service could be the answer for lonely residents

Isolated or lonely over 50s – or even younger residents – could find the support they are looking for through the Powys Befriending Service. Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO) has seen an increased demand for the service it runs to maintain social networks for the county’s older residents during the coronavirus pandemic, but in a surprising twist it has also helped younger generations as well. Those who have asked for more support have been referred to PAVO’s Powys Befriending Service, but it is only able to help those who are aged 50 or older. So, to solve this problem, isolated or lonely younger residents have been asked to volunteer and make phone calls to older residents.
13th Apr 2021 - Powys County Times

COVAX reaches over 100 economies, 42 days after first international delivery

More than one hundred economies have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX. The milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th. COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII). Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment. Despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
13th Apr 2021 - Gavi

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Apr 2021

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100 Covid Community Champions helping Somerset stay safe

A major milestone has been reached with more than 100 trained Covid Champions now in place to help people in Somerset stay up to date with the Covid-19 latest advice. The Covid Community Champion Network has been going from strength to strength since it was first launched in October. There are now just over 100 trained Champions across Somerset, sharing messages about Covid-19 and how to stay healthy, happy and safe with their friends, family and work colleagues.
12th Apr 2021 - Burnham-On-Sea.com

Czech COVID-19 daily tally lowest since September as pupils return to classroom

The Czech Republic reported its lowest daily tally of new COVID-19 cases since September on Monday, the same day a six-month state of emergency expired and many pupils return to the classroom. The central European country was badly hit by the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Czech government managed to slow the spread of infections by imposing its toughest lockdown yet. Students in grades 1-5 were set to return to school on Monday and restrictions on movement eased with people allowed once more to travel outside their home districts.
12th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Dutch tourists trade lockdown at home for confinement in Greek resort

Almost 200 Dutch tourists traded lockdown in the Netherlands for eight days of voluntary confinement in a Greek beach resort, as part of a test to see if safe holidays can be arranged during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m very excited,” said Amy Smulders, 25, a graphic designer who travelled with her sister, beaming beneath her face mask as she waited for her luggage on Rhodes island on Monday. “It feels very strange to be here, but (I’m) really excited to go on holiday.” For 399 euros ($475) each, participants will have “all-inclusive” access to the pool, restaurants and other facilities of the Mitsis Grand Hotel Beach, but nothing else.
12th Apr 2021 - Reuters UK

US colleges divided over requiring student vaccinations

U.S. colleges hoping for a return to normalcy next fall are weighing how far they should go in urging students to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including whether they should — or legally can — require it. Universities including Rutgers, Brown, Cornell and Northeastern recently told students they must get vaccinated before returning to campus next fall. They hope to achieve herd immunity on campus, which they say would allow them to loosen spacing restrictions in classrooms and dorms. But some colleges are leaving the decision to students, and others believe they can’t legally require vaccinations. At Virginia Tech, officials determined that they can’t because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only allowed the emergency use of the vaccines and hasn’t given them its full approval.
12th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Biden launches community corps to boost COVID vaccinations

Seeking to overcome vaccine hesitancy, the Biden administration on Thursday stepped up its outreach efforts to skeptical Americans, launching a coalition of community, religious and celebrity partners to promote COVID-19 shots in hard-hit communities. The administration’s “We Can Do This” campaign features television and social media ads, but it also relies on a community corps of public health, athletic, faith and other groups to spread the word about the safety and efficacy of the three approved vaccines.
1st Apr 2021 - Associated Press

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Apr 2021

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China Knocks on People’s Doors to Speed Up Domestic Covid-19 Vaccination

A year after Covid-19 swept through China, the virus is under control. Now authorities have to motivate a population that feels little urgency to get vaccinated by using a mix of social pressure, incentives, education and coercion. While surveys show vaccine acceptance remains high, the motivation to go out and get inoculated is lagging in the world’s second-largest economy given low infection rates. China’s public health officials say the aim is to get 40% of the population vaccinated by summer. With the country administering more than 4.5 million shots a day in the past week, 161 million had been given by the end of Friday, according to the National Health Commission. Oxford University data-tracking project Our World in Data said about 11% of China’s population had received at least one dose.
10th Apr 2021 - Wall Street Journal

Irish photographer takes lockdown portraits of families at home during pandemic

Ireland has been under strict lockdown for much of the past year, with people largely confined to their households for months at a time. Medjber normally photographs top music acts and festivals. When Ireland was first ordered into lockdown in March 2020, her work also went on pause and Medjber said she remembered an idea she'd had years before while walking around Dublin of using people's illuminated windows to frame them. "When lockdown hit. I suddenly realized that ‘God, everybody across Ireland is at home right now.' I remembered the idea I had years ago, and I thought now it has relevance. Now it means something." Medjber first set herself the goal of doing just 16 homes, enough for an Instagram post. After she posted them though, Ireland’s main national newspaper The Irish Times published the images on its front page, and she was flooded with requests from people asking her to photograph them.
10th Apr 2021 - ABCNews

UK’s Sikh community prepares for second Vaisakhi under lockdown

Half a million British-Sikhs are preparing to mark the Vaisakhi festival under coronavirus lockdown restrictions for the second year running. Harmeet Singh, general secretary of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall, said: “This Vaisakhi will remind us that the virtues Guru Gobind Singh Ji instilled in the Khalsa are more important than ever. During the pandemic, Sikhs across the world have shown their compassion and commitment by serving their local communities with langar – free kitchens – serving anyone and everyone, regardless of their background, recognising humanity’s oneness. Volunteers have shown immense courage, working to feed those on the front line."
10th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera

Wrexham’s MP launches campaign to celebrate local ‘Covid Community Champions’

Wrexham’s MP has launched a campaign to celebrate those in the town and the surrounding area that have given back to the community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Sarah Atherton MP is encouraging everyone across Wrexham to take part and celebrate the town’s ‘Covid Community Champions’. This can include anyone from an NHS worker or care worker, a teacher, someone who started a community group during the pandemic, or anyone who has been an inspiration to others during the past year.
10th Apr 2021 - Wrexham.com

Pandemic, hunger force thousands into sex work in Mexico

Hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic have forced former sex workers in Mexico back into the trade years after they left, made it more dangerous and reduced some to having sex in cars or on sidewalks for lack of available hotels. Claudia, who like most of the sex workers interviewed asked to be identified only by her first name, had stopped working the streets a decade ago after she married one of her former clients. But when her husband lost his job early in the pandemic, the couple fell four months behind on rent for their apartment. The only solution Claudia saw was to go back to working the streets.
10th Apr 2021 - Associated Press

One of Britain’s youngest Imams is leading Covid community efforts

One of Britain’s youngest Imams is supporting community efforts in south west London during the Covid-19 pandemic. Adeel Shah, 26, is part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Mr Shah said: “The reason we’re doing this is because Islam teaches us to help our neighbours and to play our part in society.” Since March last year, the Ahmadiyya community has delivered 673,000 pieces of PPE on behalf of the government and 10,036 food packages to front line workers. Using a hotline, the Ahmadiyya community assisted vulnerable people with errands and emotional support. The effort helped 21,407 households.
9th Apr 2021 - SWLondoner

Covid-19: a disaster five years in the making

The covid-19 pandemic is not a one-off extraordinary event but the culmination of a five year unravelling of progress in global health, writes Peter Hotez. We live in extraordinary times in global health. Through two decades of the United Nations’ millennium and sustainable development goals, the number of childhood deaths from measles and some other vaccine preventable infections has fallen by as much as 87%.1 The launch and support of global vaccination programmes through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and mass treatment programmes for HIV-AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases have produced enormous global health gains.1 We are also moving towards the elimination of neglected tropical diseases including onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, scabies, yaws, and trachoma, with major falls in the incidence of AIDS in Africa and elsewhere. The benefits of these successes go beyond public health to reduced poverty through improvements in productivity, child development, and maternal-fetal outcomes. Global security has also been strengthened. Over the past 5-6 years, however, we have seen abrupt reversals in these developments leading to the emergence or re-emergence of both vaccine preventable diseases and neglected infections in multiple areas of the world. And that’s before the onset of covid-19. Humanity is able to make tremendous gains against global disease like never before—but we have allowed those gains to unravel. The novel coronavirus has shown us the consequences of this.
9th Apr 2021 - The BMJ

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Apr 2021

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Exclusive: CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky Unveils Initiative to Address Racism in Health

The reason for that skewed impact doesn’t have so much to do with biology or genetics as it does a myriad of other factors, such as where people live, how clean the air they breathe is, what they eat, whether they work and if they do, what jobs they hold, and whether they rely on public transportation to get around. Dr. Rochelle Wolensky, the new director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), knows this dynamic well. As division director for infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, her research and clinical work focused on HIV, and she has served on Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker’s COVID-19 advisory board, helping to shape pandemic policy in that state. “I came from a place of taking care of patients with HIV and infectious diseases and those who work in public health have known forever that the diseases afflicting the poor, and afflicting those with access to health care, and afflicting racial and ethnic minorities are different than the diseases afflicting white Americans, or more privileged Americans,” says Walensky. “I came to the job with that reality every single day.”
8th Apr 2021 - TIME

In the Covid-19 vaccine push, no one is speaking Gen Z’s language

Useful Covid-19 information isn’t reaching the Instagram generation. There’s almost no messaging specifically tailored to them from federal or state public health officials. There’s hardly anything official on Tik Tok. And even the limited efforts to reach them where they are — like Instagram’s links to its “Covid-19 information center”— aren’t working. Just ask Kymon Palau, a 21-year-old from Albuquerque, N.M., who has over 18,000 followers on the site.
8th Apr 2021 - STAT News

Achieving human rights to water and sanitation amid COVID-19

Amid a pandemic, huge sections of the global population are still being left behind in their access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Before the pandemic hit, 40 percent of the world’s population already lacked access to basic hand-washing facilities at home, and children at almost half of the world’s schools did not have water and soap. While many governments have increased the provision of public hand-washing stations during the pandemic, the economic fallout of COVID-19 has only exacerbated what was already an urgent need in homes, schools, and healthcare facilities all over the world. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to the first increase in global poverty in more than 20 years, and by 2021, an additional 150 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty.
8th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

How humility can save us from Covid-19

The hospital and health system had to constantly improvise, rethink, and change course. I believe that what saved us — and saved lives — was having the humility to continually reassess and admit when we needed to shift. From June through December, our teams simulated Arizona’s pandemic triage protocol, the process for determining in the fairest way possible who gets a scarce resource like a ventilator. We pushed on the medical staff and role-played panicked families and stressed health care workers. We pushed on nurses and administrators during these simulations to find equipment across the Banner system. And even after running the simulation numerous times, we still found it needed to be revised. For now, it’s as good as we can make it. If we ever have to use it, we will stay humble and look to improve it even more
8th Apr 2021 - STAT News

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Apr 2021

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Coronavirus: Irish teachers could strike over vaccine priority

Teaching unions in the Republic of Ireland have said members will be balloted for industrial action, potentially involving strike action, if the profession is not re-prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination. The Irish government has changed its strategy to focus on age groups. The Minister for Education Norma Foley said she understood the news was difficult for teachers. She said evidence showed schools to be areas of low transmission. The Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI), the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) and the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) have been holding their annual conferences online.
7th Apr 2021 - BBC News

‘We failed the test’ of COVID-19, says human rights champion

Agnès Callamard is best known for her investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and has made a career uncovering extrajudicial killings. The French human rights expert’s focus on rights abuses is taking on new dimensions as she assumes leadership of Amnesty International and turns her attention to what she says is one of the world’s most pressing issues — vaccine equity to end the coronavirus pandemic, which has eroded freedoms globally.
7th Apr 2021 - Washington Post

Survey: Even as schools reopen, many students learn remotely

Large numbers of students are not returning to the classroom even as more schools reopen for full-time, in-person learning, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Biden administration. The findings reflect a nation that has been locked in debate over the safety of reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic. Even as national COVID-19 rates continued to ebb in February, key measures around reopening schools barely budged. Nearly 46% of public schools offered five days a week of in-person learning to all students in February, according to the survey, but just 34% of students were learning full time in the classroom. The gap was most pronounced among older K-12 students, with just 29% of eighth graders getting five days a week of learning at school.
7th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Apr 2021

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U.K. Community Leaders Step In to Aid Vaccination in Ethnically Diverse Areas

Minority communities in Britain have long felt estranged from the government and medical establishment, but their sense of alienation is suddenly proving more costly than ever amid a coronavirus vaccination campaign that depends heavily on trust. With Britons enjoying one of the fastest vaccination rollouts in the world, skepticism about jabs remains high in many of the very communities where Covid-19 has taken the heaviest toll. “The government’s response to the Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities has been rather limited,” said Dr. Raja Amjid Riaz, 52, a surgeon who is also a leader at the Central Mosque of Brent, an ethnically diverse borough of North London. “Those people have not been catered for.”
6th Apr 2021 - The New York Times

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 6th Apr 2021

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COVID-19: Pope Francis pays surprise visit to Vatican vaccine centre for homeless people

Pope Francis visited the Vatican's vaccination centre for the poor and homeless on Good Friday. Francis, 84, surprised doctors, nurses, charity workers and those getting their jabs when he arrived at the pop-up clinic. The makeshift centre has been set up in the Vatican audience hall to give free vaccines to homeless people or those in need.
2nd Apr 2021 - Sky News

Biden launches community corps to boost COVID vaccinations

The Biden administration is unveiling a coalition of community, religious and celebrity partners to promote COVID-19 shots as it seeks to overcome vaccine hesitancy
1st Apr 2021 - ABC News

International travel: Will I be able to go on holiday abroad this summer?

Under England’s roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions, which Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday was on track, the earliest that foreign holidays could be permitted is May 17. The government’s Global Travel Taskforce will provide a report later this week on how international leisure travel can resume. Boris Johnson said the government will set out “well before May 17th what we think is reasonable”. He added: “I know that people watching will want to know exactly what they can do from May 17th but we’re not there yet.
5th Apr 2021 - ITV News

‘Divisive and discriminatory’: UK MPs to oppose COVID passports

More than 70 legislators, including 41 MPs from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party, have said they would oppose so-called vaccine passports in a rare show of cross-party unity in the United Kingdom. The UK, like several other countries, is considering making such certificates mandatory to help to open the economy as it starts lifting COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
2nd Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Many still hesitate to get vaccine, but reluctance is easing

So few people came for COVID-19 vaccinations in one county in North Carolina that hospitals there now allow anyone 16 or older to get a shot, regardless of where they live. Get a shot, get a free doughnut, the governor said. Alabama, which has the nation’s lowest vaccination rate and a county where only 7% of residents are fully vaccinated, launched a campaign to convince people the shots are safe. Doctors and pastors joined the effort. On the national level, the Biden administration this week launched a “We Can Do This” campaign to encourage holdouts to get vaccinated against the virus that has claimed over 550,000 lives in the U.S.
2nd Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Over 70 pct of S. Koreans Willing to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine Shots: Poll

Over 7 out of 10 South Koreans are willing to receive coronavirus vaccine shots, a poll showed Friday. In a survey on 1,000 people aged 18 and above conducted on Wednesday and Thursday by Gallup Korea, 71 percent said they would like to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Among them, 50 percent said they will “definitely” receive vaccine shots. Only 23 percent were not willing to join the nationwide inoculation campaign, with 8 percent of them saying they will “never” get vaccinated. Compared with the pollster’s similar survey carried out from Feb. 23-25, just before the vaccine rollout kicked off here, the rate of those who said they will “definitely” or “never” receive vaccine shots rose by 2 percentage points and 3 percentage points, respectively. By age bracket, those in their 20s were evenly divided on the matter, with 49 percent showing eagerness toward coronavirus vaccination and the other 49 percent not.
2nd Apr 2021 - The Korea Bizwire

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Apr 2021

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£14.7m Lottery cash boost to tackle loneliness in East Lindsey's older people

Ageing Better was originally a six-year (2015-2021), £78 million programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to improve the lives of people aged over 50 by addressing loneliness and developing creative ways they can be actively involved in their local communities. Almost 150,000 people have been supported through Ageing Better across 14 locations, from Torbay to Middlesbrough and the Isle of Wight to East Lindsey, with 60% feeling less lonely and a third being more involved with local activities. The National Ageing Better Programme was due to end in 2021, but the partnerships have been awarded a further £6 million with the funding intended to alleviate the difficulties experienced by communities as a result of COVID-19.
31st Mar 2021 - Louth Leader

COVID-19: Millions of people told they no longer need to shield from coronavirus

More than 90% have had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People who were shielding can access priority supermarket delivery slots until 21 June if they have already registered.
31st Mar 2021 - Sky News

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st Mar 2021

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Sir Lenny Henry has written an open letter urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine

Film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, author Malorie Blackman and radio DJ Trevor Nelson are among the signatories of an open letter written by Sir Lenny Henry urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine. In the letter, actor and comedian Sir Lenny acknowledged the "legitimate worries and concerns" that people feel, adding: "We know change needs to happen and that it's hard to trust some institutions and authorities." He said: "But we're asking you to trust the facts about the vaccine from our own professors, doctors, scientists involved in the vaccine's development, GPs, not just in the UK but across the world including the Caribbean and Africa.
30th Mar 2021 - The Scotsman

Trapped in gloves, tangled in masks: Covid PPE killing animals, report finds

The masks and gloves protecting people from coronavirus are proving a deadly threat to wildlife when thrown away, a report has found. A fish trapped in the finger of a rubber glove in the Netherlands, a penguin in Brazil with a mask in its stomach and a fox in the UK entangled in a mask were among the victims. The researchers searched news sites and social media posts from litter collectors, birdwatchers, wildlife rescue centres, and veterinarians and found incidents on land and in water across the world. But they said much more information is needed and have launched a website where anyone can submit a report. The study, published in the journal Animal Biology, is the first overview of cases of entanglement, entrapping and ingestion of Covid-19 litter by animals. The PPE litter was mainly single-use latex gloves and single-use masks, consisting of rubber strings and mostly polypropylene fabric.
29th Mar 2021 - The Guardian

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Mar 2021

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Survey Finds COVID-19 Vaccination Hesitancy Remains Unchanged

Daily national surveys by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) show that although COVID-19 vaccine uptake has increased, the proportion of vaccine-hesitant adults has remained unchanged. The concerns about adverse effects (AEs) remain high, especially among females, Black adults, and those with an eligible health condition, according to the study. “Prior research by the CDC has found that Black and Hispanic adults are the least likely to receive the annual flu vaccine each year,” said Alex Reinhart, assistant teaching professor in CMU's Department of Statistics & Data Science and a member of the Delphi Research Group, in a press release. “Our survey suggests that COVID vaccine hesitancy follows a similar trend.”
29th Mar 2021 - Pharmacy Times

‘There’s a sense of community’ – how a west Cork town became Ireland’s first rural remote-working hub

Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen is proof that any business can be run from rural Ireland with the right connectivity. The west Cork town launched the country’s first rural remote-working hub in 2016 after local entrepreneurs decided they were sick of seeing students leave for college and never return. When Vodafone and the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) came together to make Skibbereen Ireland’s first gigabit broadband town, it set in motion a rural revival that exceeded all expectations.
29th Mar 2021 - Independent.ie

Covid: Ethnic jab gap 'not due to area or education'

Where people live, how poor that area is and their level of education explains only a fraction of the difference in Covid vaccination rates between ethnic groups, the Office for National Statistics has concluded. The ONS highlighted higher vaccination hesitancy among some ethnic groups. White people were the most and people of black African ethnicity were the least likely to have had a jab. But location, education and health accounted for just 30% of this gap.
29th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Rule of six and weddings resume as millions take step out of lockdown

Friends and families will be reunited from today as England takes a second major step out of lockdown. Two households or groups of up to six can socialise in parks and gardens once more, while outdoor sports facilities can reopen and small weddings can resume. Weddings will be limited to six people, including the couple, for at least two weeks until April 12, when 15 guests will be allowed. Boris Johnson urged Brits to take caution as Covid cases continue to rise across Europe, amid fears the new variants could trigger another UK wave despite more than 30 million receiving a jab.
29th Mar 2021 - Metro

London street theatre company offers doorstep performances from singers and dancers in lockdown

Street Theatre provides range of performances for people on their doorsteps Singers and dancers put on five-minute-long shows outside homes for just £30 Set up to support the performing arts as theatres remain closed until May 17
29th Mar 2021 - Daily Mail

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Mar 2021

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Covid: Boris Johnson urged to share vaccines with poorer nations

A group of charities is urging Boris Johnson to "swiftly clarify" how many Covid vaccine doses the UK is prepared to donate to poorer countries. Save the Children and the Wellcome Trust are among those calling on the PM to start donating jabs through Covax. This scheme aims to provide jabs for low and middle-income countries. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the UK does not currently have a surplus of vaccines, but when it does that surplus will be shared. The UK, which has ordered 400 million vaccine doses and will have many left over, has said it will donate most of its surplus vaccine supply to poorer countries.
28th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Exclusive: Facebook freezes Venezuela president Maduro's page over COVID-19 misinformation

Facebook has frozen Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s page for violating policies against spreading misinformation about COVID-19 by promoting a remedy he claims, without evidence, can cure the disease, a company spokesman said on Saturday. Maduro in January described Carvativir, an oral solution derived from thyme, as a “miracle” medication that neutralizes the coronavirus with no side effects, a claim doctors say is not backed by science. Facebook has taken down a video in which Maduro promotes the medication because it violates a policy against false claims “that something can guarantee prevention from getting COVID-19 or can guarantee recovery from COVID-19.”
28th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Covid vaccine: Social media urged to remove 'disinfo dozen'

Facebook, Twitter and Google have been urged by a US lawmaker to ban a dozen people who it is claimed are spreading the vast majority of disinformation about Covid vaccinations. Representative Mike Doyle made the call to remove their accounts during a US congressional session on how the three firms were dealing with fake news. He challenged Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pinchai to deplatform the dozen people immediately. None have responded to the call so far. Facebook said that it was looking into the matter to see if the accounts violated its community standards.
26th Mar 2021 - BBC News

How we can show hesitant Black D.C. residents that coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective

Black Americans are dying at nearly twice the rate of White Americans from the coronavirus. In the nation’s capital, about 75 percent of coronavirus deaths are among Black Americans — despite making up less than half of the population. So, it’s particularly troubling that 44 percent of Black D.C. residents say they won’t get vaccinated. As Black doctors and voices within the health-care community, we have a responsibility to address these views about vaccines. Among Black people who are unsure, the most common two reasons given are worries about side effects and a desire to see how other people respond to the vaccine. These are perfectly reasonable concerns; no one wants to be a guinea pig.
26th Mar 2021 - The Washington Post

Volatility of vaccine confidence

How can vaccine hesitancy be addressed? Communication about vaccines must be delivered in an empathic manner to avoid stigmatizing those who question inoculation. This requires leveraging established relationships to address concerns of the vaccine hesitant. Examples include the Engaging in Medical Education with Sensitivity initiative during the 2019 measles outbreaks, in which Orthodox Jewish nurses empowered parents in that community to reach their own conclusions about vaccines while listening to their concerns and helping them contextualize information. Also, the University of Maryland's Health Advocates In-Reach and Research network of Black barbershops and salons trains personnel as health educators to encourage customers to pursue healthy behaviors.
26th Mar 2021 - Science Magazine

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Teens organize free virtual tutoring programs to aid kids with remote learning amid pandemic

Many children in the U.S. have spent more than a year attending school virtually, raising significant concerns about a growing inequality gap. For the "CBS This Morning" series A More Perfect Union, Jan Crawford introduces high school students around the country who are on a mission to bridge that divide by teaching what they've learned to younger students.
26th Mar 2021 - CBS News

Dodford farm in fundraising drive to help children post-Covid

A children's farm which supports disadvantaged children with mental and physical health difficulties is trying to raise funds to enable it to continue its services post-Covid. Dodford Children's Farm, in Dodford, Worcestershire is seeking funding so that it can get children out into the countryside and be active, thus supporting their mental health and wellbeing, to kick-start their recovery after the pandemic. This will involve supporting children, many of them being from inner-cities, in a Covid-safe environment, outside in bubbles.The project will involve refocusing the Children's farm and re-engaging with the local community after the lockdown, and developing a team of local supporters and funders to build a community within Dodford and Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, to help in achieving its goals.
25th Mar 2021 - inyourarea.co.uk

Covid-19: Bristol BS3 group offers 'amazing' lockdown support

In Bristol, a Covid-19 community support group has helped 700 people since it was set up during the first national lockdown. BS3 Covid Response offers support, shopping and prescription collections, and phone call chat services. The group based in Bedminster and Southville was set up in March 2020 using social media and messaging services to co-ordinate help. Since its creation, it has grown to include 5,500 members and 1,000 registered volunteers. Analytics manager Becky Lewis-Jones, 39, has coordinated a 20-strong core team from her home in Southville, despite shielding due to asthma. "The community really has come together in so many ways and many connections and friendships have been forged through this," she said.
25th Mar 2021 - BBC News

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New Zealand Olympians to get early access to Covid-19 vaccine

Athletes representing New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics later this year will be able to apply to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they depart. Chris Hipkins, the minister responsible for New Zealand's response to the global health crisis, said people would be eligible to jump the queue for the vaccine on compassionate grounds or to compete in events of "national significance". The latter category would include Olympians, Paralympians and the national cricket team, who will be travelling to Britain to play India in the final of the ICC World Test Championship in June.
24th Mar 2021 - Sky Sports

Covid community heroes honoured in art project

An art project has named eleven people and organisations as "community heroes" from around Derbyshire. First Art, as part of its Shine a Light campaign, have recognised them for their commitment and for going the extra mile during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nods could be given for all manner of selfless acts, as long as they helped others during this difficult year of their lives. Among the winners is a motorcyclist, Simon Jones, who helped deliver PPE to those need around Clay Cross by setting up Volunteer Riders UK.
24th Mar 2021 - Derby Telegraph

Facebook, Twitter must do more to stop COVID-19 anti-vaxxers, US states say

Attorneys general for 12 U.S. states on Wednesday accused Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc of doing too little to stop people from using their platforms to spread false information that coronavirus vaccines are unsafe. In a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the Democratic attorneys general said “anti-vaxxers” lacking medical expertise and often motivated by financial gain have used the platforms to downplay the danger of COVID-19 and exaggerate the risks of vaccination. They called on both companies to enforce their own community guidelines by removing or flagging vaccine misinformation.
24th Mar 2021 - Reuters

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Covid-19 vaccines and the danger of religious misinformation

As coronavirus vaccines slowly roll out across the world, leaders are working hard to build confidence in them. Religious leaders in particular can play a crucial role in convincing people to vaccinate. Many are working hard to spread the news that vaccines are safe and effective, but as the BBC’s population reporter Stephanie Hegarty has been finding out, there are figures in almost every faith who are undermining that message, with some spreading misinformation which could lead to vaccine hesitancy.
23rd Mar 2021 - BBC News

Community has got Britain through the pandemic. How can we create more of it?

The loss of social connection during the pandemic has shown us the dangers of taking social relationships for granted. We are social animals and a sense of community is essential to our wellbeing. This is crucial to remember in our ever more atomised society, where social relationships are commodified and patients and students are regarded as “clients” and “consumers”. As the UK recovers from the pandemic, finding ways to build healthy social relationships should be a key part of addressing public health. But even as it has distanced us from loved ones, the pandemic has also brought us closer together in other ways. At a street, neighbourhood and even national level, the shared experience of crisis has forged a greater sense of unity. As a groundbreaking body of new psychology has shown, a sense of belonging to communities can protect people against depression, improve cognition in older people, dramatically improve people’s health prospects on retirement and greatly improve recovery from heart attacks. Our membership of groups and communities is its own type of “social cure”.
23rd Mar 2021 - The Guardian

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COVID long-haulers speak about living with brain fog, rancid smells and crushing fatigue

In February, the NIH announced a four-year, $1.15 billion dollar initiative to study what causes long COVID, but even before the initiative was put forth, clinics were springing up around the country to research and treat the growing number of long-haul patients. Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have also drawn connections between long COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, which is characterized by symptoms like fatigue and brain fog and can be triggered by infectious diseases like mononucleosis, Lyme disease and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Dr. Sara Martin is working to get one such initiative off the ground. The Adult Post-Acute COVID clinic at Vanderbilt University, which launched this week, brings together specialists from internal medicine, infectious disease, pulmonology, cardiology, ophthalmology, psychology, physical medicine, ear, nose and throat, speech pathology and neurology.
20th Mar 2021 - ABC News

Lessons from a year of lockdown: UK regional leaders on how their communities have tackled the Covid pandemic

Wales has forged its own route through the coronavirus crisis following its first case in Swansea on 28 February last year and its first case of community transmission in Caerphilly less than a fortnight later. A poll last month found that people in Wales overwhelmingly think the First Minister Mark Drakeford and the Welsh Government, which has imposed an unprecedented series of “made in Wales” measures, has handled the crisis better than Boris Johnson and the UK Government. While the death rate in both countries was similar at the peak in January this year, it was at its biggest gap in February between the two nations since March 2020 at 272.2 deaths per 100,000 in Wales compared with 393.2 in England.
22nd Mar 2021 - i on MSN.com

COVID-19: The patriarchal pandemic

From Argentina to Malaysia and Sudan to the United Kingdom to the United States, there has been a surge in reports of violence against women. To be sure, there are more opportunities for domestic violence when people are confined to domestic space. And yet the pandemic has disproportionately affected women in other ways, as well. In numerous countries, females are overly represented in industries, such as hospitality and food services, that have suffered high job losses.
22nd Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Covid One Year On: Charities 'blessed' with community spirit

Throughout North Somerset, community-led initiatives have been launched during the pandemic, each with the goal of supporting people. Nailsea Community Group, formerly Nailsea Covid Support Group, has evolved from a band of neighbours helping each other with their shopping to close to 200 volunteers. Vice-chairman Jules Richardson estimates that more than 11,000 people combined have used the groups delivery service. Clevedon Foodbank experienced a rapid rise in the number of residents reliant on its services during 2020 compared to previous years which eventually led to the creation of Yatton Foodbank. Trustee, Alison Kember, told the Times: "Usually we help around 2,000 to 3,000 people but the number surpassed 5,000 last year.
22nd Mar 2021 - North Somerset Times

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Scuffles and arrests as anti-lockdown protesters march through London

Scuffles broke out as anti-lockdown protesters marched through central London on Saturday, defying police warnings for them to stay away due to coronavirus restrictions. Police said they had made 33 arrests, most for COVID regulation breaches, after up to 10,000 people gathered holding banners with slogans such as “Stop Destroying Our Kids’ Lives” and “Fake Pandemic”. Crowded close to one another, protesters also set off flares. Under England’s coronavirus rules it is unlawful for groups to gather for the purpose of protest, but opposition to such measures has grown this week, not specifically related to anti-lockdown demonstrations.
21st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Police use water cannon as German lockdown protest turns violent

Police deployed water cannon and pepper spray after a gathering of some 20,000 protesters against lockdown and other coronavirus rules in central Germany turned violent, with some demonstrators throwing bottles at police. Protesters from all over Germany converged on the central city of Kassel for the march, which was organised by the “Querdenker” - “Lateral Thinkers” - online conspiracy movement. “Bottles were thrown and there were attempts to break through barriers,” police said on Twitter.
21st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Chillicothe business, school developed virtual reality classrooms in response to COVID-19

A new partnership between a local school and a small business is helping students stay connected to their class even when learning remotely. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Bishop Flaget School and Objective Reality Games — a virtual reality arcade and game studio — collaborated to provide a new educational opportunity. By using an Oculus headset, students can visit a VR classroom, participate in lectures, complete assignments and engage with their peers all from home.
20th Mar 2021 - MSN

Covid-19 leaflets: How pandemic disinformation went offline

A newspaper dropped through Mark Langford's letterbox. It was called The Light. "The first thing you saw was the main headline: 'Covid jabs kill and injure hundreds.' I was horrified." Mr Langford confronted the woman who had delivered it. She told him she was a nurse, that the pandemic was a hoax and that no-one had died from coronavirus. He said he didn't believe a nurse would say that but didn't challenge her credentials at the time. The paper itself contained an article listing people who had allegedly died after receiving the vaccine, but provided no evidence that any of these deaths had been caused by the jab. Another section of the paper claimed face masks were responsible for "thousands" of deaths from bacterial pneumonia. There is no evidence whatsoever for this claim.
20th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Community champions sought to support those most at risk from Covid-19

Telford & Wrekin Council is looking to recruit community champions to support those most at risk of Covid-19. The council is launching a community champions project to reach residents most at risk from coronavirus, after securing £50,000 funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Borough residents are urged to volunteer to help make a difference in the communities they are living in. In particular, volunteers from 'seldom heard groups' are being asked to come forward, from groups who might be struggling to access council services (such as people from ethnic minority backgrounds or from disability communities) but applications from other communities across the borough are also welcomed.
20th Mar 2021 - Shropshire Star

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Google removed more than 99 million malicious Covid-19 ads in 2020, figures show

Google blocked or removed more than three billion adverts for violating its policies in 2020, including more than 99 million linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the company has revealed. The internet company’s annual Ads Safety Report showed it suspended 1.7 million advertiser accounts for breaking Google rules. It said a major revamp of its advertising policies, including the addition or updating of more than 40 rules for both advertisers and publishers had meant a drastic increase in the number of ads removed over the last 12 months. Among the 3.1 billion adverts removed were over 99 million related to Covid-19, many for misleading claims such as miracle cures or fake vaccine doses, but also ads for N95 masks during supply shortages
18th Mar 2021 - Evening Standard

Drive to help Wirral BAME communities feel safe about Covid jab

A Wirral woman is championing a campaign to ensure ethnic communities across the borough feel safe about having the Covid-19 vaccine. Carol Haque is encouraging others in the Bangladeshi community to take up the vaccine as the safest, most effective way to tackle the virus in a campaign launched by Cheshire and Merseyside NHS. Using insight from local research, representatives from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic will address questions about the vaccine in a series of radio adverts, posters and social media adverts.
17th Mar 2021 - Wirral Globe

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Hundreds more laptops ensure students in Lancashire are fully equipped to work remotely

Lancashire County Council has secured a further 1,000 laptops for schools to ensure that all students have the technology they need to be able to work remotely. An extra £650k for the new hardware brings the council's investment in laptops for schools to £1.47m. In total the council has secured 3,350 laptops for schools with this funding. Lancashire schools welcomed back all students earlier this month, with measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus. However schools must be able to support remote learning in cases where students are asked to self-isolate due to a confirmed case in their bubble.
17th Mar 2021 - inyourarea.co.uk

Google blocked nearly 100 million harmful Covid-19 ads in 2020

Google blocked or removed nearly 100 million adverts linked to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, new figures show. The company's Ads Safety Report revealed these formed a significant proportion of the 3.1 billion adverts it banned in total for violating its policies in 2020. Among the blocked Covid-19 adverts were many spreading misleading claims about fake vaccine doses and miracle cures. Others were seen to be profiteering from in-demand products such as face masks during supply shortages. Google said the figures are the result of increased investment in its automated detection technology and a major revamp of its advertising policies.
17th Mar 2021 - Wales Online

'You might be the only person they’ve seen all week': how two charities are tackling isolation during Covid

Social isolation has affected us all this past year, following Covid-19 into our lives like a grey shadow. The webs of restrictions and worries catch differently for each household, matter in different ways to each person, but we have all felt the effects of seeing fewer people. During the first lockdown, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast found up to 70% of people reported feeling “isolated, left out, or lacking companionship some of the time or often”. Other studies show loneliness has an impact on both physical and mental health, linking a lack of connection with others to increased risk of earlier death, heart disease, depression and dementia. Doctors have called for “urgent action” to make sure the benefits of shielding from coronavirus are not outweighed by the problems caused by being alone.
17th Mar 2021 - The Guardian

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Student volunteers team up with council to fight loneliness in York

York students are helping to combat loneliness in the city in a pioneering new initiative. YUSU Nightsafe has teamed up with City of York Council for a project called Door Natters, to help combat isolation during the Covid-19 Pandemic. From the University of York Students’ Union, Nightsafe normally sees volunteers help their fellow students during on nights out. Door Natters sees Nightsafe volunteers pop postcards through people’s doors across York, explaining the scheme. The volunteers then return to look out for postcards placed in windows, telling them if the person living there is vulnerable or lonely and would like a casual chat with a volunteer.
16th Mar 2021 - YorkMix

Aston Villa's Neil Taylor encourages BAME community to get coronavirus vaccine

Neil Taylor is urging BAME communities to ignore misinformation about the Covid vaccination program. Speaking in support of a campaign run by the British Red Cross to combat mistrust, the Aston Villa full back, who is of mixed Welsh and Indian descent, said he understood concerns but that the skepticism does not make sense. “We are the ones most at risk, ethnic minorities are more likely to die from this virus than anyone else so for us to be skeptical does not add up. We were all thinking; how on earth have they come up with a vaccine so quickly but it has become clear now it is working. It’s the right thing to do.”
16th Mar 2021 - The Times

COVID-19: Facebook to label all posts about vaccines with WHO information

Facebook will add labels to all posts about COVID-19 vaccines to show additional information from the World Health Organisation. The move comes amid concerns that misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines may be driving hesitancy in people receiving the jab, potentially putting themselves at risk and prolonging the coronavirus pandemic. In an announcement on Monday, the social media giant said it was working closely with the NHS and global health authorities "to deliver important public health messages quickly, helping people access credible information and get vaccinated."
16th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Raising the curtain again: London theatres prepare to re-open a year on

In an empty London theatre, producer Nica Burns sits among the once buzzing stalls hoping audiences will soon be back for good to watch live performances. A year ago, Burns shut the doors to her six theatres, where shows like “Harry Potter And The Cursed Child” and “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” played to crowds in London’s West End, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Twelve months on, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown for England, she is cautiously preparing to re-open them from mid-May.
16th Mar 2021 - Reuters

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To help people find Covid-19 vaccines, Facebook debuts new features

Facebook is rolling out a handful of new tools on its platforms to help people get vaccinated against Covid-19. The tech giant, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, announced on Monday that it will use its platforms to help assist users in learning more about Covid-19 vaccines, including where and when they can get vaccinated. "Now that many countries are moving towards vaccinations for all adults, we're working on tools to make it easier for everyone to get vaccinated as well," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in prepared remarks posted to the social media platform on Monday.
15th Mar 2021 - CNN

Hungarian far-right party protests lockdown

Demonstrators in Hungary’s capital broke a ban on public gatherings on Monday to demand an end to the country’s lockdown restrictions, even as a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations sweeps the country. The demonstration was organized by a far-right party, Mi Hazank Mozgalom (Our Homeland Movement), and joined by some 1,000 people. The group broke through a police cordon and marched to Hungary’s parliament in central Budapest. They demanded an end to pandemic restrictions that have been in effect for more than four months and have placed a heavy burden on the country’s economy.
15th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

Facebook to label vaccine posts to combat COVID-19 misinfo

Facebook is adding informational labels to posts about vaccines as it expands efforts to counter COVID-19-related misinformation flourishing on its platforms. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post Monday that labels will contain “credible information” about the vaccines from the World Health Organization. They will be in English and five other languages, with more languages added in coming weeks. “For example, we’re adding a label on posts that discuss the safety of COVID-19 vaccines that notes COVID-19 vaccines go through tests for safety and effectiveness before they’re approved,” Zuckerberg said.
15th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

Community projects to help Lewisham recover from Covid-19

Community projects that will help Lewisham recover from the Covid-19 pandemic will be able to bid for community infrastructure levy (CIL) funding from May this year. Councils can apply a levy to developments in the borough – the money is to mitigate their impact and goes towards improving local infrastructure. An open call for projects is set to be launched in mid to late May of this year and will run for eight to ten weeks.
15th Mar 2021 - London News Online

Exclusive: Regular booster vaccines are the future in battle with COVID-19 virus, top genome expert says

Regular booster vaccines against the novel coronavirus will be needed because of mutations that make it more transmissible and better able to evade human immunity, the head of Britain’s effort to sequence the virus’s genomes told Reuters. Sharon Peacock, who heads COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) which has sequenced nearly half of all the novel coronavirus genomes so far mapped globally, said international cooperation was needed in the “cat and mouse” battle with the virus. “We have to appreciate that we were always going to have to have booster doses; immunity to coronavirus doesn’t last forever,” Peacock told Reuters at the non-profit Wellcome Sanger Institute’s 55-acre campus outside Cambridge.
15th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Addiction and behavioral health care workers should have access to Covid-19 testing and vaccines

At the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. government and private organizations rushed to support health care workers — and rightfully so — with massive ramp-ups in making available personal protective equipment and testing supplies to ensure that frontline workers had the resources they needed to keep themselves, their patients, and their families as safe as possible. These providers have been now been given priority to get the Covid-19 vaccines that are being rolled out across the country. But one group of health care workers has been excluded from these efforts: those who work in behavioral health and addiction treatment centers.
15th Mar 2021 - STAT News

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With Trump gone, QAnon groups focus fury on attacking coronavirus vaccines

Within the alternative universe of the “Q NEWS OFFICIAL TV” group on Telegram, coronavirus vaccines aren’t saving lives and bending the pandemic toward its eventual end. Rather, they are bioweapons concocted by an evil cabal of corrupt government officials and drug companies. Their goal? Depopulation. Social control. Altering the very genetic structure of our species. Such unhinged conspiracy theories once ran rampant on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But months of purging accounts that trafficked heavily in the baseless QAnon ideology — especially after it helped fuel the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol — have reduced those voices on leading social media sites.
14th Mar 2021 - The Washington Post

Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Jews get COVID vaccine but still face resentment

Outside the synagogue in Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood Har Nof, a poster bears the name of Osnat Ben Sheetrit, a pregnant mother of four who died of COVID-19, and the words: “For the ascension of her soul, get vaccinated.”
13th Mar 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Misinformation wars on WhatsApp sees faith groups take on fake news

Faith groups are leading the fight against vaccine misinformation on what one called the "lawless wasteland" of WhatsApp. Messages spreading fake COVID-19 information are widely shared on the private messaging app. This is often through a simple "forwarding" feature that copies messages to other contacts. But the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and other groups have been pushing back on that disinformation. Sky News has been collecting and analysing messages to monitor what type of misinformation is shared on WhatsApp, while also speaking to groups which are tackling the problem head on.
13th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Nurses fight conspiracy theories along with coronavirus

Los Angeles emergency room nurse Sandra Younan spent the last year juggling long hours as she watched many patients struggle with the coronavirus and some die. Then there were the patients who claimed the virus was fake or coughed in her face, ignoring mask rules. One man stormed out of the hospital after a positive COVID-19 test, refusing to believe it was accurate. “You have patients that are literally dying, and then you have patients that are denying the disease,” she said. “You try to educate and you try to educate, but then you just hit a wall.” Bogus claims about the virus, masks and vaccines have exploded since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic a year ago. Journalists, public health officials and tech companies have tried to push back against the falsehoods, but much of the job of correcting misinformation has fallen to the world’s front-line medical workers.
13th Mar 2021 - Associated Press

The path to the post-Covid city

The basic exchange that’s required is obvious: cities need to take space from cars, offices and shops and give it to affordable housing, community and nature. The city of the future may look a lot like the city of the past, just cleaner: bicycles, farms and 18th-century-style homeworking rather than flying cars. I’ve tried to distil the best ideas for the post-Covid city, focusing on rich-country megapolises such as London, New York and Paris. Developing-world cities have different problems, but much of what follows applies to them, too.
12th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

A tantalising glimpse of a post-vaccine world

The big threat to the “dream” scenario of governments being able to ease restrictions almost entirely as inoculation programmes end is the emergence of new variants that resist existing vaccines or cause worse symptoms and higher hospitalisations even among the young and healthy. Later rounds of jabs — booster shots against mutated strains — seem inevitable. Testing programmes may be needed for some time to hunt down new variants, and as an alternative to “vaccine passports” for those who cannot or choose not to be jabbed. Little by little, however, outlines of the post-pandemic normal are becoming discernible. Rich-world governments that are making good progress with vaccinations now need to prepare to donate their surplus doses to the developing world — to ensure they are not the only ones that can enjoy that brighter future.
12th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

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Loneliness and anxiety ‘magnified’ by pandemic, say Samaritans

Loneliness, anxiety, bereavement, financial worries and relationship problems have all been “magnified” by the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health charity Samaritans Ireland has said. The organisation revealed today that their volunteers have listened to callers’s concerns for almost 73,000 hours since the pandemic began. Samaritans Regional Director Rory Fitzgerald – who also volunteers on the helpline - has estimated that three out of five calls under the current Level 5 restrictions relate to worries about the Covid-19 pandemic.
11th Mar 2021 - Irish Times

MP to host Zoom meeting to tackle post-pandemic loneliness

York Central MP Rachael Maskell is inviting constituents to a Zoom public meeting to discuss how to tackle loneliness after Covid. The Shadow Minister for Civil Society and Loneliness says she is holding the meeting because she has been contacted by a large number of people telling her they feel lonely, isolated and scared as the country eases out of its third national lockdown. She said others had experienced loneliness for a long time but longed for friends to talk to and people who cared.
11th Mar 2021 - yorkpress.co.uk

As pandemic enters 2nd year, voices of resilience emerge

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen death, economic hardship and anxiety on an unprecedented scale. But it has also witnessed self-sacrifice, courage and perseverance. In India, Brazil, South Africa and other places around the globe, people are helping others and reinventing themselves. “I’ve been adaptable, like water,” said a woman whose dream of becoming a U.S. boxing champion was dealt a blow by the crisis, though not necessarily a knockout punch. Their voices and images can inspire, even though the future is as uncertain for them as it is for everyone else.
11th Mar 2021 - Associated Press

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How virtual fitness classes are providing much-needed community right now

Among the (many) mental health challenges of a year-long pandemic is the loneliness and isolation of social distancing — and digital fitness platforms have emerged as a way for people to find meaningful connection with others. “COVID-19 altered the way people spend their time. We are no longer commuting to large offices, meeting friends for happy hour or interacting at special events,” said Kinsey Livingston, vice president of partnerships at ClassPass. “For many people, physical activity and connectedness top the list of our mental health needs, and we are turning to virtual, outdoor and distanced studio workouts as a healthy coping mechanism for pandemic stress.” Fitness has always had a strong community aspect, but being able to tap into this connection digitally has been a lifesaver for many.
10th Mar 2021 - MSN.com

COVID-19: Wales to prioritise homeless for jabs during coronavirus vaccine rollout

Homeless people in Wales will be prioritised for a coronavirus vaccine as they are more likely to have an underlying health problem, the Welsh government has said. Health Minister Vaughan Gething said this includes rough sleepers, those in emergency accommodation, and people who were recently homeless and are now in supported accommodation. Mr Gething, who was speaking during a Welsh government coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, said those people will now be part of priority group six in the country's vaccine roll-out.
10th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Facebook to tackle coronavirus vaccine misinformation

Facebook is launching a media literacy campaign to tackle the spread of false information about the coronavirus vaccine. It follows vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi last month telling Sky News the government was battling a "tsunami of disinformation" around the jabs as well as the coronavirus pandemic itself. Facebook previously announced that it would be banning proven false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, but warned it would "not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight".
10th Mar 2021 - Sky News

A look at the Covid-19 disinformation pushed by China and Russia

CNN's John Avlon looks back at the disinformation around Covid-19, as the US reaches the milestone of one year into the pandemic.
10th Mar 2021 - CNN on MSN.com

Michigan vaccine hunters and angels help seniors find coronavirus vaccine appointments

Trying to find a coronavirus vaccine appointment for her elderly family members was like firing a blind shot in the dark, said Elizabeth Griem. “I’m in my 30′s, I could only imagine what it would be like as someone (who is) 80 trying to navigate that,” Griem said. After sorting out vaccines for her father and father in-law, Griem met Katie Monaghan and began helping more seniors find vaccines. Monaghan noticed vaccine hunter Facebook groups popping up in other states, so she decided to start some in Michigan. Vaccine hunting is a national trend taking place mostly on Facebook where people find coronavirus vaccines and crowdsource information about them
10th Mar 2021 - MLive.com

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Coronavirus vaccine bots: A force for good or agents of chaos?

Amateurs have been setting up automated bots to scan the websites of clinics in search of new appointment information before posting their findings on social media - a practice known as “web scraping” - which is proving popular with grateful Twitter users relieved to have had their attention drawn to an open slot on behalf of an elderly relative. South Jersey-resident Benjamin Shover tweeted his thanks to Vaccine Bot NJ, built by local software engineer Kenneth Hsu, on 23 February after securing an appointment for his father, writing: “THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I GOT MY DAD AN APPOINTMENT! THANK YOU SO MUCH!”
9th Mar 2021 - The Independent

Vaccine tips and tricks: a start-up industry helps Americans find a shot

The US has now delivered first doses of a coronavirus vaccine to 21 per cent of its adult population, making it the sixth fastest Covid-19 vaccine programme in the world. On Saturday the country administered a record 2.9m shots, the White House announced on Monday. But the rollout has been patchy, with states, local health departments, individual clinics and private pharmacy chains all running their own systems. On top of this, many states are now allowing anyone with an underlying condition to claim a vaccine — a group that can account for as much as 60 per cent of the population. So many people are now eligible for so few doses that people are doing anything they can to secure highly sought-after appointments. Some are lining up for 12 hours outside supermarkets to secure unclaimed vaccines; others are tapping up networks of friendly pharmacists and nurses to find out when appointments become available; some are monitoring registration websites throughout the day and night.
9th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

More than 100 vaccine hesitant people have now had coronavirus jab - after being contacted in mother tongue

In Manchester, more than 100 people who had previously refused or ignored the coronavirus vaccine offer have now had the jab - after being contacted in their mother tongue. A multilingual team called dozens of people of Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in south Manchester to answer questions and “debunk vaccination myths”. The volunteers rang people identified by GPs at Ladybarn Group Practice, Al-Shifa Medical Centre and David Medical centre to discuss specific concerns. As a result, 110 people had their vaccinations at Chancellors Hotel, in Fallowfield, where more multilingual staff and translated materials were available
9th Mar 2021 - Manchester Evening News

Corby wellbeing programme helped by £31,000 boost from Loneliness and Isolation Fund

A Corby community-led arts consortium will be able to give their wellbeing programme a shot in the arm to help those suffering from isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Made With Many’s Corby arts programme has received a £31,000 boost for creative projects from the government’s Loneliness and Isolation Fund, to allow it to reach more people with their cultural and creative activities.
9th Mar 2021 - Northants Telegraph

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Virtual lessons on the world of farming for British Science Week

More than 200,000 primary school pupils are delving into the world of food and farming in one of the country’s biggest virtual classrooms this week, as the National Farming Union broadcasts live lessons to celebrate British Science Week.
8th Mar 2021 - shropshirestar.com

Russian Intelligence Linked to Spread of False Info About COVID-19 Vaccines

Four websites featuring articles that cast doubt about the COVID-19 vaccines have been traced back to Russian intelligence agencies as part of their alleged campaign to diminish confidence in the drug’s efficacy and safety, the Wall Street Journal reports. An official with the U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center found that these online publications, which have been identified as New Eastern Outlook, Oriental Review, News Front, and Rebel Inside, are spreading false or misleading information about the side effects of the Pfizer vaccine and the United States’ role in attempting to rush its approval by Food and Drug Administration. While the readership on these sites is quite low, there’s concern that these articles could garner more attention if they were to be picked up and circulated by international outlets.
8th Mar 2021 - Yahoo

Yellen says COVID-19 having 'extremely unfair' impact on women's income, jobs

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an “extremely unfair” impact on the income and economic opportunities of women, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday, calling for long-term steps to improve labor market conditions for women. Yellen, in a dialogue with International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva, said it was critical to address the risk that the pandemic would leave permanent scars, reducing the prospects for women in the workplace and the economy.
8th Mar 2021 - Reuters

‘Disparities we had before played out during the pandemic’

Black, Asian and other minorities in the United Kingdom have been disproportionately struck by COVID-19, with some communities still experiencing a higher rate of hospitalisations and deaths as the pandemic continues. Over the past year, several reports and studies have underscored that this bleak reality is a consequence of structural racism. In an interview with Al Jazeera, British Medical Association chief Chaand Nagpaul says the government must now acknowledge the “structural inequalities that have plagued our society for decades” if it is to address healthcare disparities. He spoke about the UK’s handling of the pandemic, how lessons from a public inquiry will help save lives in the future, and why some ethnic minorities are reluctant to take the vaccine.
8th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

One in four remain unwilling to get coronavirus vaccine: poll

A new poll released by Monmouth University on Monday found that, while a majority of people reported being satisfied with the coronavirus vaccine rollout, 1 in 4 still say they do not plan on getting the shot. “The American public has become less concerned about contracting Covid-19 since vaccines have become more widely available. However, 1 in 4 remain unwilling to get the shot, even though most are satisfied with the vaccine rollout so far,” the university said in a press release. “The Monmouth University Poll also finds that public opinion of how state governors and federal health agencies have handled the pandemic remain largely positive, although not quite as positive as they were at its onset one year ago. Confidence in President Joe Biden’s ability to get the outbreak under control has dipped since he first took office, but remains largely positive.”
8th Mar 2021 - The Hill

Covid-19: Essex boy's lockdown art project raises £100k for NHS charity

In England, a 12-year-old boy's lockdown art project has raised about £100,000 for charity, after 250 artists came forward to help him. Noah, who has hydrocephalus, epilepsy and cerebral palsy, began painting on cardboard at home in Dedham, Essex, a year ago. His father posted on Instagram, asking artists to finish the pictures. More than 200 pieces were then auctioned on eBay and raised more than £80,000, with the rest made up from book sales featuring the art and donations. Noah's father Nathan Jones said they had originally hoped to raise £500 and were "absolutely stunned" by the total.
8th Mar 2021 - BBC News

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Paris police clear Seine riverside over lack of social distancing

French police cleared the banks of the River Seine in central Paris on Saturday over concerns people were getting too close together and not respecting coronavirus social distancing rules. Hundreds of people were asked to leave the area - popular for strolling and picnicking on sunny days - and police officers closed the riverbanks for the rest of the day. “Social distancing rules are not being respected,” police called out through a megaphone. The police has regularly been clearing the area over the past few weeks with warmer weather bringing people out to take advantage of the sunshine before a curfew kicks in from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
7th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Night and day in South America: Buenos Aires welcomes nightlife, new lockdowns in Brazil

In Buenos Aires on Friday night the doors of the Colón Theater reopened for the first time in a year since being shut because of the coronavirus pandemic, a sign of how the capital of Argentina is slowly letting its hair down once again. In neighboring Brazil, however, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have gone in the opposition direction, both announcing tighter restrictions this week, a reflection of how the two regional powerhouses are on completely different tracks battling the virus.
7th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Dutch dance lovers offered lockdown relief at test event

Dance music lovers in Amsterdam were offered a short relief from COVID-19 lockdown on Saturday, treated to their first live show in over a year while serving as guinea pigs in a research project. A total of 1,300 people were allowed at a carefully orchestrated test event in Amsterdam’s biggest music hall, the ZiggoDome, which in normal times has a capacity of up to 17,000. Dancing to tunes delivered by Dutch DJs Sam Feldt, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano and others, the fans were followed in all their movements and contacts through a tag they were made to wear, in an effort to see how events might safely be opened up for the public again.
7th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Funding joy for organisers of Bishop's Stortford's Covid-19 lifeline support scheme Operation CommUNITY

A "fantastic web of support" is keeping Bishop's Stortford-based lifeline scheme Operation CommUNITY on track – and organisers have revealed they have secured funding until the end of March. The scheme, which was launched in March 2020 at the start of the first coronavirus lockdown to support vulnerable people, ran out of funding in January but received a Covid Winter Grant of £9,634 from Hertfordshire Community Foundation to keep its vital support network going. Lisa Rodmell, of Bishop's Wellbeing and lead volunteer for Operation CommUNITY, revealed the scheme had delivered 4,999 meals to individuals, families and homeless people, and heaped praise on the community for its continued support.
7th Mar 2021 - Bishops Stortford Independent

New York cinemas reopen, brightening outlook for theaters

After growing cobwebs for nearly a year, movie theaters in New York City reopen Friday, returning film titles to Manhattan marquees that had for the last 12 months instead read messages like “Wear a mask” and “We’ll be back soon.” For a theatrical business that has been punished by the pandemic, the resumption of moviegoing in New York — is a crucial first step in revival. “It’s a symbolic moment,” said Michael Barker, co-president of the New York-based Sony Pictures Classics, which on Friday released the Oscar contenders “The Father” and “The Truffle Hunters” in Manhattan theaters. “It says that there is hope for the theatrical world to reactivate itself.”
6th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

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California to give 40% of vaccine to Latino, high-risk areas

California will begin sending 40% of all vaccine doses to the most vulnerable neighborhoods in the state to try to inoculate people most at risk from the coronavirus and get the state’s economy open more quickly, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday in the latest shake-up to the state’s rules. The doses will be spread among 400 ZIP codes where there are about 8 million people eligible for shots, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary. Many of the neighborhoods are in Los Angeles County and the central valley, which have had among the highest rates of infection.
5th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

An Uncertain Public — Encouraging Acceptance of Covid-19 Vaccines | NEJM

Having explored multiple polls, we believe that there is great potential for public willingness to receive Covid-19 vaccines but that effective public education and outreach are needed to maximize the proportion of the population that will do so quickly. We also believe that clinical physicians, rather than pharmaceutical companies, political leaders, or even medical scientists, should be at the fore of education and outreach strategies. Featuring clinicians in messaging is particularly important given that many people will not see their own physician when making vaccination decisions: current vaccine policy and cold-chain logistics mean that people will largely be attending mass-vaccination clinics. To reach communities that are less trusting of vaccine efforts, outreach should be led by, or should meaningfully incorporate, physicians reflecting the diversity of the relevant communities.
4th Mar 2021 - nejm.org

COVID-19: 'Light at the end of the tunnel' as pubs and bars announce outdoor area reopening plans

Wetherspoons will open patios, beer gardens and rooftop gardens at 394 of its pubs in England from 12 April as COVID-19 restrictions ease, the pub chain has announced. Revolution Bars, another chain, said it would reopen 20 venues from April as its boss said "the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter".The announcement comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended a business rates holiday and VAT cut for the hospitality sector in the budget, as well as extending the furlough scheme.
4th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Croydon organisation works to dispel Covid-19 vaccine myths in BAME communities

Croydon BME Forum is joining forces with local organisations in a bid to inform the black community about the Covid-19 vaccines following the recent low uptake. A recent study by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that 21 per cent of black people over the age of 80, who are currently eligible to have the vaccine, have been vaccinated compared to 43 per cent of their white counterparts.Croydon BME Forum is partnering with South West London CCG and the Asian Resource Centre to deliver an outreach programme aimed at those from BAME communities to inform and answer questions. Upcoming plans include interactive Zoom events, smaller community sessions held online and video interviews with health experts.
4th Mar 2021 - inyourarea.co.uk

'Vaccine hunters': Online community helps people find COVID vaccine appointments

Since it launched on Feb. 1, the vaccine hunters Facebook group has grown to more than 20,000 members and now helps people across Minnesota find and sign up for appointments each day. Members share tips about when vaccine appointments open online, photos of themselves or their parents getting vaccines and stories of what they went through to get COVID-19 shots. The administrators also update a separate website several times a day. Winnie Williams, a freelance software developer, manages the vaccine hunter website and helps individuals book appointments from her home in Woodbury, Minn.
4th Mar 2021 - MPR News

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CRISPR rivals put patents aside to help in fight against Covid-19

Coronavirus made the rivalry less cutthroat because patents were not a paramount concern. “The awesomely good thing about this terrible situation is that all the intellectual property questions have been put aside, and everyone’s really intent on just finding solutions,” said Chen. “People are focused on getting something out there that works, rather than on the business aspect of it.” The ultimate goal for both teams is to create CRISPR-based coronavirus tests that would be like a home pregnancy test: cheap, disposable, fast, and simple, something you could buy at the corner drugstore and use in the privacy of your home. Harrington and Chen of the Mammoth team unveiled their concept for such a device in May 2020 and announced a partnership with the London-based multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to manufacture it. It would provide accurate results in 20 minutes and require no special equipment.
3rd Mar 2021 - STAT News

US Catholic group tells followers to avoid Johnson & Johnson vaccine

An American Catholic church body on Tuesday urged its followers to avoid the coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, alleging that it was “developed, tested and produced using abortion-derived cell lines.” The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged Catholics to choose between the alternatives offered by Pfizer and Moderna because the J&J vaccine raised questions about “moral permissibility.” “The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines,” said Bishop Kevin C Rhoades, chairman of USCCB. The body said the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are preferable “if one has the ability to choose a vaccine.”
3rd Mar 2021 - The Independent

Covid-19: Sprinter urges BAME groups to 'have conversation' about the jab

A British sprinter has urged black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to "have the conversation" about the coronavirus vaccine. Eugene Amo-Dadzie, from east London, said he had overcome his concerns after discussing them with a family member. New research shows people from ethnic minorities have been less likely to want to get vaccinated and trust family members' views over the government. Amo-Dadzie said he had "responsibility" over his career and family. "Let's have the conversation, let's ask the questions, let's understand what our fears and hesitancies are, and then let's deal with those and move forward," he said.
3rd Mar 2021 - BBC News

Chinese groups in UK are being taught how to handle Covid hate crimes after brutal attack on lecturer

Community groups supporting Chinese and other East Asian communities in the UK are being trained to support victims of Covid-related racial attacks, after a Chinese lecturer was assaulted last week. Peng Wang, 37, was brutally attacked by four men while he was jogging near his home in Southampton last Tuesday. He sustained facial injuries and an injury to his elbow in the attack, which took place at around 4.15pm on Vosper Road, Southampton. The men drove past Mr Wang in a car and shouted abuse at him. When the University of Southampton lecturer shouted back to defend himself, they stopped the car and assaulted him. Police arrested a 23-year-old man from Southampton on suspicion of racially aggravated assault. He was released from custody but remains under investigation.
3rd Mar 2021 - The Independent

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Rochdale charity helps older adults keep active and get online to avoid lockdown loneliness

In England, Rochdale based culture and leisure charity, Link4Life, is continuing to support the local community get through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic even as the doors remain closed on their leisure centres, Touchstones Museum and Art Gallery and their other live event venues. The charity launched ‘Link4Life at Home’ during the first lockdown to offer a virtual alternative to the pre-pandemic sessions, which take place at Link4Life’s venues, helping people stay active, creative and healthy at home. This virtual support is planned to continue for the foreseeable future to ensure accessibility for all.
2nd Mar 2021 - AboutManchester

COVID-19: Twitter expands 'warning labels' to target misleading vaccine posts

Twitter is expanding its use of warning labels, targeting tweets that contain misleading details about coronavirus vaccines. The decision has been made to strengthen the social network's existing COVID-19 guidance, which has led to the removal of more than 8,400 tweets and challenged 11.5 million accounts worldwide. Labels providing additional context are already attached to tweets with disputed information about the pandemic. However, this is the first time the firm has focused on posts about vaccines specifically. Twitter said it is starting a strike system that "determines when further enforcement action is necessary".
2nd Mar 2021 - Sky News

A third of all military personnel are refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

A third of all military personnel in the U.S. are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and in some units just 30% of enlistees are willing to have a shot, according to a new report. The figure is alarming commanders as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the United States. Personnel who refuse the vaccine will face no repercussions due to a federal law that 'prohibits the mandatory application of medicines within the military that are not fully licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration', The Nation reports.
2nd Mar 2021 - Daily Mail

Google and University of Oxford launch global Covid-19 tracker platform

Google.org, the charitable arm of Google, along with the University of Oxford and others have launched a global data repository to help track Covid-19 variants and future infectious diseases. Global.health is an open-access store and builds on an idea first initiated by University of Oxford researchers in January 2020, which involved building a Covid-19 database which pulls together anonymised data on as many individual cases as possible. The university also launched an online tool for tracking and comparing the policy responses of governments around the world tackling the coronavirus outbreak in July 2020. Following early investment by the Oxford Martin School at the start of the pandemic, Google.org provided funding and a team of 10 fulltime Google.org Fellows and seven part-time Google.org volunteers to scale up the project. The Rockefeller Foundation has also provided funding.
2nd Mar 2021 - Digital Health

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Charity issues plea for volunteers amid spike in loneliness and isolation in Aberdeen

A north-east charity in Scotland has issued a plea seeking volunteers who can bring hope and joy to people’s lives. As part of their new befriending service, Aberdeen based TLC are calling on those in the surrounding area to step up and help support others. Starting in April, it is hoped that members of the community can help alleviate the loneliness and isolation being felt by many during the pandemic. Through their outreach work into communities across the city, the charity has witnessed a spike in people finding their physical, emotional and mental health in decline.
1st Mar 2021 - The Press and Journal

Food boxes 'only way to defeat Covid in lockdown' say Isle of Dogs volunteers

In England, a “mega food distribution” to beat isolation is being run by volunteers on the Isle of Dogs to reach households in lockdown. Members of the Island Network of voluntary groups were out at the weekend taking food packs to those staying indoors, including the elderly, disabled and anyone in poverty. The volunteers are also planning to distribute packs today, Monday, March 1, to primary schools in the area to be given to the most needy.
1st Mar 2021 - East London Advertiser

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Covid has connected UK communities and spurred volunteering, report finds

In the UK, the coronavirus pandemic has fostered “a greater sense of connection”, spurring millions to volunteer to help others in their communities, research suggests. An ICM poll found that almost three times as many people said Covid had made their community more united (41%) than said it had become more divided (13%). When extrapolated to the entire UK population, the results of the nationally representative survey of 2,373 UK adults suggest 12.4 million adults volunteered during the pandemic. Out of these, 4.6 million were first-time volunteers, of which 3.8 million people were interested in volunteering again.
28th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Germans say ‘Nein Danke’ to Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

The head of STIKO, Thomas Mertens, conceded on BBC's Radio 4 Today program Thursday morning that in terms of slow take-up, his panel's assessment "may be part of the problem." "[Even though] we always stated that [our assessment] had nothing to do with the safety of the vaccine ... we never criticized the vaccine to be unsafe," he added. Mertens noted that there are now 1.4 million doses of the vaccine in Germany, while only about 240,000 have been administered. "We are working quite hard … to try and convince people to accept the vaccine and really to build ... trust in the vaccine among the population," he said. The government is also rushing to regain this trust, assuring citizens that the vaccine provides reliable protection from severe and lethal cases of COVID-19. "The vaccine ... is safe and highly effective," tweeted government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday. "It prevents many infections and protects against serious illnesses. Vaccination can save lives."
27th Feb 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Is Covid at risk of becoming a disease of the poor?

Detailed data on uptake down to a community level is not being published by the government to the frustration of many - the figures for Birmingham were published by the council. But what information is available suggests the poorest and most ethnically diverse communities (there is a huge overlap between the two) are seeing the lowest levels of uptake.
27th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Funding boost for groups helping COVID hit communities

A housing trust has given community groups in Birmingham and Telford that are working to help those hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19 a funding boost. Bournville Village Trust has awarded grants totalling £17,500 to 15 grass-roots groups as part of a commitment to support communities through the pandemic.
26th Feb 2021 - CharityToday

Charity drive to bring North West communities together over covid rules

New research shows that more than half of the people living in the North West of England believe those who disagree on rules around covid 19 are a threat to the country’s future. The charity Engage Britain is launching a national drive to help bring communities back together. It comes after the poll asked people in the North West about how issues like the vaccine and lockdown rules are impacting their lives. Boris Johnson has laid out his road map out of lockdown, but the survey found that community spirit is still fading after battling the pandemic for almost a year. 22% of residents said they’ve become more suspicious of people in their community with a different approach to the rules.
26th Feb 2021 - ITV News

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England minorities: Higher COVID-19 cases, fewer vaccinated

England’s ethnic minority communities have higher levels of COVID-19 infections and lower levels of vaccine acceptance than other groups, according to a new study that highlights how the pandemic is worsening health inequalities. The study found that 92% of people across England either have received or would accept a vaccine. But that figure dropped to 87.6% for Asians and 72.5% for Blacks, according to the study released Thursday by Imperial College London. Researchers also found that most people of all age groups produced disease-fighting antibodies after two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
25th Feb 2021 - The Independent

COVID-19: Anti-fraud probe as EU nations are offered 900 million 'ghost' jabs worth €12.7bn

Fraudsters are trying to cash in on mistakes made by the EU's coronavirus vaccination campaign by offering millions of scam jabs to member states. The bloc's anti-fraud agency OLAF said around 900 million vaccines have been pitched to several countries for €12.7bn (£11bn). These offers were said to be made by "alleged intermediaries," prompting OLAF to investigate. Pharmaceutical companies involved in making vaccines against COVID-19 say they sell to governments direct only.
25th Feb 2021 - Sky News

COVID-19: Almost 70,000 COVID lockdown fines handed out, with steep rise since Christmas

Police have handed out nearly 70,000 fines to people for breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules since they came into force, with more than 6,000 issued in a single week, new data shows. Figures published by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) on Thursday show that a total of 68,952 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issues by forces. Of this figure, 63,201 fines were handed out in England and 5,751 in Wales between 27 March last year and 14 February.
25th Feb 2021 - Sky News

The Good, the Bad, and the Embarrassing in America’s COVID-19 Response

The pandemic has been both a bad and an embarrassing time to be an American. Bad in an actuarial sense, because per-capita death rates here have been among the highest in the world. Embarrassing at the level of national identity. In Washington, last year, the President promised that the virus would be gone by Easter, and when it wasn’t he mused that Americans might self-treat with bleach. In Michigan, armed men guarded a barbershop that had defied public-health orders to close. On South Padre Island, in Texas, spring break proceeded as usual—packed and unmasked—even as cases were climbing. The state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, insisted that there were “more important things than living”; later, he urged Texans to keep the economy open even if it meant more deaths.
25th Feb 2021 - The New Yorker

Far right 'exploiting' anger at lockdowns to radicalise wellness community, police say

Rightwing extremist groups have “exploited” anger at Covid-19 lockdowns to radicalise Australians in wellness and alternative medical circles into adopting white supremacist ideologies, Victoria police have warned a parliamentary inquiry into extremism. The inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism has separately been warned by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that Australians as young as 13 are involved in onshore terrorism, both in Islamist and rightwing extremist circles, and that encrypted online communication channels are preventing authorities from intervening before “lone actors” become radicalised and carry out attacks.
25th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Covid 19 coronavirus in NZ: One year into the pandemic, five lessons for 2021 and beyond

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, the first confirmed case of Covid-19 arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand. What are some of the lessons we have learned about this pandemic? And what are the implications for improving our response in future? Arguably, New Zealand's greatest lesson is that an elimination strategy is the optimal response for a moderate to severe pandemic like Covid-19. The strategy provides a vivid example of how protecting public health also protects the economy when compared with mitigation or suppression strategies. This successful approach has required decisive science-backed government action and outstanding communication to create the social licence needed for an effective response.
25th Feb 2021 - New Zealand Herald

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All adults in Wales will get a coronavirus vaccine by July 31, says nation's health minister

Every adults in Wales eligible for coronavirus vaccine will receive a jab by July 31, health minister Vaughan Gething has announced. He said that Wales would be able to offer a vaccine to all eligible adults by July 31, provided that the supply promised by the UK government was fulfilled. Mr Gething said: "Our incredible vaccine programme is the other beacon of hope that will help guide us out of lockdown. I can today confirm that we will offer the vaccine to all eligible adults in Wales by 31 July, as long as the supply matches our ambition."
24th Feb 2021 - Wales Online

Italian mafia tightens grip on small businesses during lockdown

The provision of Mafia “welfare” to Italy’s struggling small businesses sharply increased during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdown according to the first comprehensive report by the country’s interior ministry on organised crime since the pandemic began. The report by the anti-mafia investigation directorate (DIA) said there was a significant threat that organised criminals would take advantage of the country’s economic crisis to take over small businesses after initially providing them with assistance.
24th Feb 2021 - Financial Times

Holidaymakers rush to book summer getaways to Greece, Spain and Turkey after PM announced aim to restart international travel from May 17 - but SAGE scientist warns don't book a trip abroad before 2023

Britons are rushing to book their summer getaways ahead of the return of international travel from May 17 - despite a SAGE professor warning holidaymakers not to go on foreign trips before 2023. Some of Britain's biggest airlines and travel firms revealed a surge in holiday bookings to destinations including Greece, Spain and Turkey in the hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the roadmap out of lockdown yesterday.
24th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

China's bid to stop Wuhan COVID-19 spread cut deaths from other causes: study

The number of deaths in China - excluding the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan - fell slightly during the first three months of 2020, suggesting efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 reduced fatalities from other causes, a new study showed. Researchers from the University of Oxford and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysed official death registry data from Jan. 1 to March 31 last year for changes in overall and cause-specific deaths. The death rate in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was first identified, stood at 1,147 per 100,000 over the period, 56% higher than expected, they found in the study published on Wednesday by BMJ, the journal of the British Medical Association.
24th Feb 2021 - Yahoo News Singapore

EU mulls vaccination passports to resurrect tourism after COVID-19

European Union leaders will agree on Thursday to work on certificates of vaccination for EU citizens who have had an anti-COVID shot, with southern EU countries that depend heavily on tourism desperate to rescue this summer’s holiday season. Lockdowns to slow the pandemic caused the deepest ever economic recession in the 27-nation bloc last year, hitting the south of the EU, where economies are often much more dependent on visitors, disproportionately hard. With the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 now gathering pace, some governments, like those of Greece and Spain, are pushing for a quick adoption of an EU-wide certificate for those already inoculated so that people can travel again. However, other countries, such as France and Germany, appear more reluctant, as officials there say it could create de facto vaccination obligation and would be discriminatory to those who cannot or will not take a jab.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Doctors and nurses face endless covid misinformation battle

Nakhasi is one of countless health-care workers who have found themselves combating the coronavirus on two fronts during a global pandemic that is now stretching into its 12th month. Beyond spending their working hours in hospitals and clinics, many doctors and nurses have also voluntarily entrenched themselves in “the information war,” as Nakhasi calls it. It’s a fight Nakhasi and other medical professionals say feels overwhelming. Baseless claims often spread faster than facts, and purveyors of misinformation are quick to retaliate with vitriol and threats. And yet, health-care workers, many of whom are already experiencing burnout and the emotional toll of witnessing covid ravage their patients, haven’t backed down. “It’s never-ending,” Nakhasi said. “There’s not a moment where I don’t feel some level of duty or responsibility” to take action.
24th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

Mission Possible: Pfizer and BioNTech star in their own vaccine discovery movie

The movie-length product placement is a behind-the-scenes look at Comirnaty, the now-authorized coronavirus shot Pfizer developed and produced in concert with its partner BioNTech. Pfizer provided the National Geographic's scientific storytellers “unprecedented access” to the vaccine's development, said Sally Susman, Pfizer executive VP and chief of corporate affairs, said. “This film is riveting and suspenseful,” Susman said in a media backgrounder from Disney Advertising Sales, the Disney group that oversees National Geographic’s CreativeWorks branded content studio, which created the film. “It is a testament to all of our employees and partners across the biopharmaceutical industry who have put in the long hours of tireless dedication and sacrifice, often working away from their families."
24th Feb 2021 - FiercePharma

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Even the World's Most-Vaccinated Economy Faces a Tough Reopening

But even as that brings hope for businesses shuttered for months, and for economies across the globe that have spent trillions of dollars to support people during lockdowns, the Israel experience shows that an emerging new normal that may not look much like the pre-pandemic world for some time to come.
24th Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

'Closer to normality': New York City arenas open doors to elated fans

On Tuesday, standing outside Madison Square Garden in the chilly February air, Cumello was grateful her long-awaited game had finally arrived. “I’m really excited that we finally got to go because I was really upset when it got canceled,” said Cumello, who plays point guard in her youth league in Fairfield, Connecticut. “I’m excited that we just get to be here and get to watch.” Cumello and her mother were among the 2,000 fans ready to watch the New York Knicks take on the Warriors, as New York City welcomed ticketholders at live sports events for the first time since the pandemic brought sports to a halt nearly a year ago.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 could become disease of the poor and persist in some areas of UK, expert warns

Dr Mike Tildesley, reader in mathematical modelling of infectious diseases at the University of Warwick and member of the Government advisory group SPI-M, said that he was "concerned" that the virus might persist particular parts of the country. Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether Covid-19 could remain a "disease of the deprived", he said: "This is a real concern actually for me and I know a number of other scientists have raised this, that we may end up in a situation where we have the 'vaccine rich' and as it were, who are able to access the vaccine who have taken up the vaccine and are at much lower risk.
23rd Feb 2021 - Mirror Online

Fauci: Vaccinated people shouldn't dine indoors or go to the theater quite yet

Dr. Anthony Fauci cautions against indoor dining and theatergoing even for those fully vaccinated. The number of coronavirus cases in the US remains high. He said it'd be safer to gather indoors again as more people get vaccinated and COVID-19 cases drop.
23rd Feb 2021 - Business Insider

COVID-19: How European nations are trying to plot route out of lockdown

The details of England's route out of lockdown were revealed this week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is "very optimistic" he will be able to remove all coronavirus restrictions by 21 June under his four-stage plan. But how are European countries faring in the second year of the pandemic?
23rd Feb 2021 - Sky News

Holiday bookings surge in UK after lockdown exit plans revealed

Airlines and travel companies have reported a surge in holiday bookings after the Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown. EasyJet, Ryanair, Tui and Thomas Cook reported a jump in bookings to destinations including Spain and Greece after the prime minister said international trips could potentially resume from 17 May, subject to review and assuming there was no resurgence in coronavirus and vaccination programmes went well. The increase bolstered shares in airlines and travel companies on Tuesday. EasyJet and Tui were among the top risers on the FTSE 250, up 7% and 3% respectively. On the FTSE 100, British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group, was up 3.5%.
23rd Feb 2021 - The Guardian

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False claims tying coronavirus vaccines to infertility drive doubts among women of childbearing age

As the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine ramps up across the United States, women of childbearing age have emerged as a surprising roadblock to efforts to halt the pandemic by achieving herd immunity. Officials have encountered hesitancy among other groups, including some Black and Hispanic adults and those who believe the pandemic is a hoax. But the reluctance of women in their 20s and 30s — largely around disinformation spread on Facebook, Twitter and other social media — has been more unexpected. With such women making up a large share of the health-care workforce, vaccine uptake at nursing homes and hospitals has been as low as 20 to 50 percent in some places — a far cry from the 70 to 85 percent population target that health officials say may be needed to stop the virus.
22nd Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

Spanish region vaccinates 7,000 adults living with a disability in a week

In Spain, Extremadura last week took on the challenge of vaccinating 7,000 adults with need for daily care who are not in residences, and their professional carers in a week. This group included people who need help to carry out basic tasks, recognized as Grade III dependents under the Law of Dependency, those who have asked to be recognized in this category and those who, without having made any request, are accredited with suffering from a disease which requires them to have significant support measures. Thanks to the support of family and health workers, the vaccination day was “surprisingly easy,” said the coordinator of the drive, Paula Salamanca. Red Cross teams, which facilitated up to 300 trips to the center, were also key. Salamanca said that it all comes down to teamwork: “If one of us fails, we all fail.”
22nd Feb 2021 - El País

ER doctor documents COVID-19 battle in LA hospital with emotional photographs

Dr Scott Kobner, 29, chief resident at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine, documented his front-line colleagues The amateur photographer took pictures of doctors and patients at the 600-bed public hospital using Leica M6 and M10 cameras and posted them on Instagram Dr Kobner had permission from the hospital and patients. Kobner, originally from New York, doesn't photograph people he treats but comes in on his days off instead. He tested positive for the virus in the summer but recovered alone at home In LA County, more than 19,880 people have died of COVID-19. There is a long history of photographing medical treatment during disasters that gained popularity in the US during the Civil War
22nd Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

A year after its 1st COVID-19 cases were discovered, Italy is cautiously bouncing back

Italy discovered its first COVID-19 infections one year ago. The outbreak led to the first nationwide lockdown outside of China, and it has claimed more than 95,000 lives across the country. But as CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay reports, it's a very different story there now. Life has slowly been returning to normal, and Italians packed the streets over the weekend – even in the country's north, which was once the epicenter of its coronavirus epidemic. Old traditions are bouncing back across Italy, but with some differences. A year ago, something as simple as drinking a cappuccino out in the open had become unthinkable. Life is hardly back to normal; the law still requires that you to wear a mask at all times in public, even outside, except when you're eating or drinking.
22nd Feb 2021 - CBS News

This UK lockdown must be the last. Here's how we can achieve that

As the UK has yo-yoed in and out of multiple lockdowns, restrictions have harmed people’s livelihoods, businesses, mental and physical health, and their quality of life. In the first and second lockdowns, these restrictions proved insufficient to permanently drive down the prevalence of Covid-19. This time, we have been promised that all adults will have received their first vaccine dose by July – but its level of effectiveness, coupled with the potential emergence of new strains of the virus, means the vaccine rollout will not be a complete solution to the pandemic.
22nd Feb 2021 - The Guardian

French city of Nice asks tourists to stay away amid COVID surge

The mayor of Nice in southern France called on Sunday for a weekend lockdown in the area to reduce the flow of tourists as it battles a sharp spike in coronavirus infections to triple the national rate. The Nice area has France’s highest COVID-19 infection rate, with 740 new cases per week per 100,000 residents, according to Covidtracker.fr. “We need strong measures that go beyond the nationwide 6 p.m. curfew, either tighter curfew, or a partial and time-specific lockdown. A weekend lockdown would make sense,” Mayor Christian Estrosi said on franceinfo radio. Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Saturday the government would decide this weekend on tightening virus control measures in the Mediterranean city.
22nd Feb 2021 - Reuters

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Britain to offer all adults a COVID-19 vaccine by end of July

All adults in Britain will be offered a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday ahead of a planned announcement on the cautious reopening of the economy from lockdown. Johnson will set out a roadmap to ease England’s third national lockdown on Monday, having met a target to vaccinate 15 million Britons from higher-risk categories by mid-February. Britain now aims to give a first dose to all over-50s by April 15, the government said, having previously indicated it wished them to receive the shot by May.
21st Feb 2021 - Reuters

Gen V: The Young Vaccine Heroes Convincing Their Elders To Get The Covid Jab

Neesie has recruited 20 young people aged between 18 and 25 who are from Black, Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds, and teamed up with Bradford’s university and hospital to teach them about Covid and arm them with facts about the vaccine. The plan was for the young people to go out into their communities to spread awareness – but, due to the lockdown, they are speaking to community groups through online platforms to eradicate myths and misconceptions. Someone who looks like you and speaks the same language and has the same cultural or faith background as you is often better at relaying the message and being trusted
20th Feb 2021 - HuffPost UK

COVID-19: Sadiq Khan urges BAME communities to get vaccine after he receives jab

Sadiq Khan has received his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and urged members of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to follow suit, declaring: "I wouldn't be taking the jab if I didn't think it was safe." The London mayor received a COVID-19 jab on Friday morning at a vaccine centre located inside a church in southwest London.
20th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Escaping lockdown: when will life return to normal?

Governments and societies will have to learn how to manage a complex series of risks, both in the short term while only part of the population has been vaccinated, and in the long term as the disease lingers even after most people have received the jab. International travel could face restrictions for some time to come. Some scientists describe a long drawn-out battle with an endemic virus that constantly evolves — with new vaccines and treatments being deployed in a way that they hope will allow much but not all of normal life to return. “The challenge is to find a way to live with it without keeping huge restrictions in place,” says Azra Ghani, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London.
20th Feb 2021 - The Financial Times

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Danish supermarket to help small, shuttered businesses survive lockdown

Danish supermarket cooperative Kvickly has pledged to set aside some of its extra proceeds made while smaller retailers were shut down by coronavirus restrictions and use it for marketing to help them reopen successfully. Supermarkets, but not smaller retailers, in the Nordic country have been allowed to stay open during a lockdown introduced in December to curb the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain. Kvickly said it would donate its proceeds from sales of non-food items to shuttered shops for use in marketing campaigns as they reopen for business. That would amount to at least 7-10 million Danish crowns ($1.14-$1.63 million) - but more if the current coronavirus lockdown is extended beyond March 1.
18th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Covid crisis: 1.9m people in UK 'have not worked for more than six months'

Almost 2 million people in Britain have not worked for more than six months during the coronavirus pandemic, amid growing risk to workers from long-term economic damage caused by the crisis. The Resolution Foundation said up to 1.9 million people in January had either been out of a job or on full furlough for more than six months, revealing the lasting impact on employment caused by Covid and multiple lockdowns. Highlighting the risks to workers from long-term unemployment, it called on the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to use next month’s budget to extend targeted support for sectors of the economy hardest hit by the crisis. The report warned that while the outlook for the economy was steadily improving thanks to the vaccination programme and as the government prepares to roll back Covid restrictions, many workers remained concerned about their job prospects.
18th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Lockdown over, tennis fans back as Australia says no new virus cases for over 48 hours

Australia said on Thursday it had gone more than 48 hours since detecting the last locally acquired case of COVID-19, as Victoria state ended a lockdown letting thousands of tennis fans back in Melbourne Park for the last days of the Australian Open. Jack Barber, a 25-year-old student, was among 7,477 spectators in the stadium watching Japan’s Naomi Osaka defeat the United States’ Serena Williams to go through to the ladies final. “Yeah, it’s awesome. I wasn’t sure if they were going to put the event on. It’s been really nice to be here. I actually kind of like the lower crowds,” said Barber, with the Rod Laver Arena limited by social distancing restrictions to half its capacity. “It’s kind of nice to be able to walk around and go wherever you want.”
18th Feb 2021 - Reuters Australia

COVID rumours hamper Brazil’s efforts to vaccinate Indigenous

Indigenous nurse Almeida Tananta battled heavy downpours of tropical rains as he rode his motorbike for hours across the red-soiled dirt tracks of Tabatinga, a municipality in Western Amazonas, which borders the Amazon rainforest and Colombia, and has the largest concentration of Indigenous Brazilians in the Amazon. Tananta was en route to apply the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the remote Umariacu villagers, in Alto Rio Solimoes. But when he arrived at the village of wooden-thatched houses skirting the banks of the Amazon river, the nurse’s hopes of vaccinating the 1,037 villagers quickly vanished.
18th Feb 2021 - AlJazeera

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NYC’s rich neighbourhoods get disproportionate share of coronavirus vaccines

New York City’s vaccines are going disproportionately to wealthier neighbourhoods in Manhattan and Staten Island, according to data the city released on Tuesday. The disparities highlight the inequities of a vaccine drive that has already been criticised for what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called "profound" racial disparities. White residents composed almost half the people who had at least one dose, despite being only a third of the population. More than a quarter of those getting the coronavirus vaccine are nonresidents, who tend to be younger and are more likely to be White than those living in the city.
17th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Glasgow priest Canon Tom White takes legal action against ministers to stop UK divide on lockdown right to worship

A Glasgow priest has launched a legal action to stop a north-south divide on the right to worship during lockdown. Canon Tom White whose St Alphonsus parish is in the heart of the city’s famous Barras has issued a pre-action letter to the Scottish Government demanding it ends the blanket ban on places of worship. A response must be made before Tuesday February 23. Lockdown measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus have forced places of worship to shut.
17th Feb 2021 - heraldscotland.com

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COVID-19: 'Progress' made on vaccine hesitancy amid 'pandemic of disinformation', NHS chief says

"Meaningful progress" is being made in the campaign to overcome COVID vaccine hesitancy, but it is happening amid a "pandemic of disinformation", the head of the NHS in England has said. The country is fighting a "dual epidemic" and must take on both coronavirus and disinformation with "equal vigour", Sir Simon Stevens said at Monday's Downing Street news conference. He added that progress is being made on uptake among black and south Asian communities, and believes the involvement of local religious leaders will help build momentum.
16th Feb 2021 - Sky News

England's route out of Covid lockdown taking shape but timings unclear

While the government has said very little about how lockdown restrictions in England will start to be relaxed, there is a lot to be read between the lines. With a week to go before Boris Johnson spells out his roadmap for lifting the lockdown, leaks about new rules and timetables being discussed in multiple meetings across Whitehall will be filtering into newspapers. The chronology now seems to be taking shape. There is a hope of allowing a small easing of restrictions at the same time as schools reopen, to allow people to meet one other person for a coffee in the park, say, rather than just for exercise, without running the risk of being moved on by police. That would put the whole country under something similar to the tier 4 rules that were in place across swathes of England in December. Apart from schools reopening, the difference to a full lockdown is only subtle.
16th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

German business groups berate government over lockdown extension

The German government is coming under mounting attack from business groups angry at its refusal to ease the country’s coronavirus restrictions, as pressure grows for an exit strategy out of one of Europe’s longest shutdowns. “Businesses are growing increasingly desperate, and angry,” said Guido Zöllick, head of DEHOGA, the German association of hotels and restaurants. “More and more fear for their existence.” He was speaking after a crisis meeting with German economy minister Peter Altmaier where 40 groups representing the hospitality industry, tourism, retail trade and other sectors lambasted the government’s pandemic policies.
16th Feb 2021 - The Financial Times

Madrid: an island in a sea of coronavirus restrictions

Compared to other major European capitals, Madrid is swimming against the tide with regard to its Covid-19 strategy. Although most of Europe’s main cities are imposing heavy restrictions on both mobility and social activities in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Spanish capital is opting for relaxing restrictions despite a 14-day incidence rate of 625 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In fact, while Lisbon, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Athens and Brussels remain in partial lockdown, Madrid plans to put the curfew and closing times in the hospitality sector back an hour. The Swedish capital, Stockholm, which took a controversial early approach to fighting the virus by trusting to individual responsibility, is one of the few big European cities to take a similar line. But experts warn of the risks of relaxing restrictions when transmission remains high.
16th Feb 2021 - El País

Dutch coronavirus curfew upheld temporarily after legal setback

Appellate judges ruled on Tuesday that a night-time curfew would remain in place in the Netherlands pending a government appeal of a lower-court ruling that found the measure lacked legal justification. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coronavirus policy was dealt a major blow earlier in the day when a district court in The Hague said his government had failed to make clear why it was necessary to use emergency powers at this stage of the pandemic. The government requested and was granted an injunction, or emergency order, in which the three-judge appellate panel in The Hague agreed to suspend that ruling and uphold the curfew pending the outcome of the appeal to be heard on Friday.
16th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Israel blocks shipment of Russian Sputnik V vaccine to Gaza

Israel has stopped 1,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine that are intended for front-line medical workers from entering the besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian group Hamas which governs the Gaza Strip on Tuesday blasted Israel’s refusal to allow vaccine doses destined for Gaza health workers through its blockade of the territory as a “violation” of international law. Israel – which is carrying out one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns per capita – has faced international calls to share its stocks as an occupying power with Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.
16th Feb 2021 - AlJazeera

‘Vaccine nationalism’ will hurt all countries: New WTO chief

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) incoming chief has warned against “vaccine nationalism” that would slow progress in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and could erode economic growth for all countries – rich and poor. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told the Reuters news agency that her top priority is to ensure the WTO does more to address the pandemic, saying members should accelerate efforts to lift export restrictions slowing trade in needed medicines and supplies.
16th Feb 2021 - AlJazeera

Four reasons experts say coronavirus cases are dropping in the United States

The rate of newly recorded infections is plummeting from coast to coast and the worst surge yet is finally relenting. But scientists are split on why, exactly, it is happening. Some point to the quickening pace of coronavirus vaccine administration, some say it’s because of the natural seasonal ebb of respiratory viruses and others chalk it up to social distancing measures. And every explanation is appended with two significant caveats: The country is still in a bad place, continuing to notch more than 90,000 new cases every day, and recent progress could still be imperiled, either by new fast-spreading virus variants or by relaxed social distancing measures.
15th Feb 2021 - Washington Post

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Coronavirus in the UK: New BBC Panorama research reveals rise in anti-vaccine propaganda accounts on social media

An investigation for the BBC’s Panorama has revealed an alarming increase in the followers of anti-vaccine accounts on social media – and the impact of the content being shared. Research for the programme, which airs on BBC One on February 15th, analysed anti-vaccine content available on the major social media platforms. It found that anti-vaccine accounts on Instagram increased nearly five-fold in 2020, reaching over four million followers. “Naturally we didn’t have the time maybe to do the sort of preliminary work that we do when we’re introducing vaccines,” said Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England. “I think it's fair to say that we didn’t have time to do all those things as well as we would normally do but we’re very much playing catch up now.” It comes at a time when more people are seeking health information online.
15th Feb 2021 - MSN.com

The superspreaders behind top COVID-19 conspiracy theories

As the coronavirus spread across the globe, so too did speculation about its origins. Perhaps the virus escaped from a lab. Maybe it was engineered as a bioweapon. Legitimate questions about the virus created perfect conditions for conspiracy theories. In the absence of knowledge, guesswork and propaganda flourished. College professors with no evidence or training in virology were touted as experts. Anonymous social media users posed as high-level intelligence officials. And from China to Iran to Russia to the United States, governments amplified claims for their own motives. The Associated Press collaborated with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab on a nine-month investigation to identify the people and organizations behind some of the most viral misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus. Their claims were explosive. Their evidence was weak. These are the superspreaders.
15th Feb 2021 - ABC News

Landlords evicting hundreds during lockdown with government’s new ‘eviction ban’ loopholes

Hundreds of renters have been thrown out of their homes in the middle of lockdown after the government caved in to landlord lobbying and introduced loopholes to its eviction ban. New figures show eviction attempts by landlords doubled during the winter coronavirus lockdown, while more than 500 households were forced out by county court bailiffs. The government promised in March that nobody would be made homeless because they had lost their income due to coronavirus, and put a blanket ban on evictions.
15th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Australian Proud Boys sought combat-trained supporters to 'arrest' police at Covid lockdown protests

The far-right Proud Boys in Australia sought people trained in combat to help confront police during anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne last year. Amid repeated warnings from security agencies in Australia and overseas about the way far-right groups have used the Covid-19 pandemic to recruit, Guardian Australia can reveal that senior members of the neo-fascist Proud Boys group were involved in protests during Melbourne’s second-wave lockdown last year. A series of messages posted to anti-lockdown social media groups in the past year reveal the increasingly blurred line between the loose coalition of conspiracy groups that orchestrated those protests and far right groups such as the Proud Boys.
15th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Locked down and lonely, London Zoo faces fight to survive

London Zoo should be teeming with children released from school by half-term holidays. But instead, the monkeys’ pranks are unobserved, King Cobra is coiled friendless in the reptile house and the future of the world’s oldest scientific zoo is in peril. As the menagerie in Regent’s Park, central London, nurses a multi-million-pound hole in its budget and lockdown keeps visitors away, even during school holidays, the keepers are sad and anxious. “Lockdown here has been really surreal - like with no visitors here, it’s been a really sad time for the zoo,” Kate Sanders, big cats team leader at the zoo, told Reuters.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

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COVID-19: All restrictions must be lifted by end of April, lockdown-sceptic MPs tell Johnson

A group of lockdown-sceptic MPs has told Boris Johnson that coronavirus restrictions must be fully lifted by the end of April. In a letter to the prime minister, the COVID Recovery Group said there will be "no justification" for restrictions to remain once all over-50s have been offered a jab. The CRG described reopening England's schools on 8 March as a "national priority" that must be achieved, and said pubs and restaurants should be allowed to open in a COVID-secure way by Easter. More than 60 Conservative backbenchers are said to have backed the letter, which demands that Mr Johnson commits to a timetable for exiting lockdown.
14th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Challenges to Covid-19 Lockdowns Have Been Mostly Losing in Court

When the owners of four Albuquerque trampoline parks sued New Mexico’s governor for pandemic-related shutdowns that almost bankrupted them, they argued it wasn’t fair that they had to close when tanning salons, guided balloon tours and ice-skating rinks stayed open. The argument got nowhere with U.S. District Judge James Browning. “The Court will not recognize a new fundamental right to operate a trampoline facility,” he wrote in a Feb. 8 ruling, upholding the closures. The decision was the latest in a long line of defeats for businesses and individuals challenging lockdown rules and state emergency measures intended to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Together, the roughly 300 civil liberties lawsuits related to Covid-19 represent the most significant test in more than a century of the emergency powers of state governors and the scope of liberty in dire times.
13th Feb 2021 - Wall Street Journal

The show goes on in Madrid as cultural life continues despite pandemic

Madrid’s Teatro Real opera house is busy preparing its latest productions in what at any time would be an ambitious season. With Spain battling some of Europe’s worst coronavirus infection rates, its plans are all the more remarkable. The Real’s premiere of a production of Wagner’s four hour-long Siegfried takes place on Saturday while two other operas with largely foreign casts — Bellini’s Norma and Britten’s Peter Grimes — will be staged this month. The performances are part of a flurry of artistic activity that has continued in the Spanish capital despite the pandemic, as Madrid gives its answer to the question: how much should cultural life be closed down to keep the virus in check?
13th Feb 2021 - Financial Times

New Covid-19 outbreaks in China reopen pet owners’ wounds, but public pressure eases some lockdown restrictions

During early pandemic quarantines, many pet owners in China were forced to leave their pets alone at home or send them into the wild. Following public pressure, Daxing district in Beijing adjusted measures to allow pets to be moved to hotels with their owners.
13th Feb 2021 - South China Morning Post

Coronavirus: in Wuhan, a Lunar New Year rush to pay tribute to Covid-19’s victims

Early on Friday, the first day of the Lunar New Year, shops in the central Chinese city of Wuhan were selling out of chrysanthemums as residents bought them to take to the grave or home of a deceased family member. Throughout Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, it is a tradition to visit the household of a person who has died in the last lunar year to offer flowers and burn incense soon after midnight. This year, demand for the flowers for shao qing xiang or “burning incense” was particularly high, with many residents buying the yellow and white chrysanthemums to remember those who died from the coronavirus.
13th Feb 2021 - South China Morning Post

‘No One Is Safe Until Everyone Is Safe’ – Vaccine Rollout Misses Key People

Homeless people, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and some people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are among those struggling to get a coronavirus jab even when they’re entitled to one. The UK’s coronavirus vaccination rollout is being hailed as a rare pandemic success with the NHS on target to hit its goal of immunising 15m of the most vulnerable people by next week. But people are falling through the gaps because they face barriers to accessing healthcare. Experts say many of the people being missed out in the vaccine rollout are already at greater risk of health inequalities and have cautioned that until all communities in the population are reached with the vaccine, coronavirus cases will “keep creeping back”. Charities and campaigners say the easiest route for people to be called for a coronavirus vaccine is by being called for one by their GP. But those with an unstable immigration status are often too terrified of registering with a GP or seeking medical care as they fear they might get reported to the Home Office and deported.
13th Feb 2021 - Huffington Post

This COVID-vaccine designer is tackling vaccine hesitancy — in churches and on Twitter

Kizzmekia Corbett, an immunologist at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), is one of the scientists who in early 2020 helped to develop an mRNA-based vaccine for COVID-19. Developed in collaboration with biotech firm Moderna of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the vaccine is now being distributed across the United States and elsewhere. And Corbett is taking on another challenge: tempering vaccine hesitancy by talking about COVID-19 science in communities of colour. Corbett is one of many Black scientists and doctors who are doing this outreach, often virtually, in their free time. Researchers say it’s necessary to make scientific knowledge accessible in public forums, to ease health disparities.
13th Feb 2021 - Nature

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Indigenous leaders warn of missionaries turning Amazon villages against vaccines

Medical teams working to immunize Brazil’s remote indigenous villages against the coronavirus have encountered fierce resistance in some communities where evangelical missionaries are stoking fears of the vaccine, say tribal leaders and advocates. On the São Francisco reservation in the state of Amazonas, Jamamadi villagers sent health workers packing with bows and arrows when they visited by helicopter this month, said Claudemir da Silva, an Apurinã leader representing indigenous communities on the Purus river, a tributary of the Xingú. “It’s not happening in all villages, just in those that have missionaries or evangelical chapels where pastors are convincing the people not to receive the vaccine, that they will turn into an alligator and other crazy ideas,” he said by phone.
12th Feb 2021 - Reuters India

France is seeing a baby bust nine months after its first covid lockdown

When France confined more than 64 million people under one of the world's strictest coronavirus lockdowns last spring, there was widespread speculation that a baby boom would follow. Nine months on, though, instead of a boom, France is witnessing a sharp decline in births. Economic uncertainty, social stress and in some cases anxieties about the virus itself appear to have prompted families to abandon or postpone plans to have a baby. The number of babies born at the Saint-Denis hospital plummeted by about 20 percent between mid-December and mid-January and is expected to remain below 2020 levels for at least the first half of the year. While the coronavirus wards were hives of activity last week, lights in the maternity ward were dimmed and the corridors empty.
11th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

Family lockdown activities for half-term: chosen by readers

Guardian readers share their tips for family lockdown activites. Travelling the world one dinner at a time is proving popular, but readers also have outdoor ideas involving oaks, fairies and common-or-garden weeds
11th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

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Nearly a third of US adults say they definitely or probably will not get a COVID-19 vaccine

Nearly one-third of U.S. adults say they are not likely to get a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available to them, a new poll suggests. Conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the report found that 67 percent of Americans plan to get vaccine or have already done so. However, 15 percent are certain they will not get the jab and 17 percent said they probably will not. Many expressed doubts about the vaccine's safety and effectiveness, suggesting that substantial skepticism persists more than a month and a half into the U.S. vaccination drive that has encountered few side effects.
10th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Facebook and YouTube ban ‘Planet Lockdown’ film filled with coronavirus falsehoods, after it was shared by millions

While thousands of families grieved the loss of loved ones and the United States’ coronavirus death toll surpassed 350,000 in early January and continued to rise, a film parroting false claims about the pandemic began to spread to millions of social media users. The video, called “Planet Lockdown,” racked up more than 20 million views and engagements, according to the social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, in late December and January. It went largely unnoticed by the social media platforms playing host to the misinformation until the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America published a detailed accounting of the film’s spread on Monday.
10th Feb 2021 - Washington Post

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COVID-19: Over-70s can now book first coronavirus jab and don't need to wait for contact from NHS

People aged 70 and over in England who have not yet had a coronavirus vaccine are being urged to book an appointment with the NHS to get a jab. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the policy is changing to make sure no-one falls through the cracks as the drive to inoculate against COVID-19 continues. It comes as the race intensifies for all those in the top four priority groups to get their first jab by 15 February before attention turns to rolling the vaccine out to the other five priority groups, reaching all over-50s by May.
9th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Navajo Nation outpaces much of US in delivering COVID vaccines

The Navajo Nation announced on Tuesday it will receive about 29,000 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines as the tribal area continues to outpace the broader United States in delivering jabs. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said that as of Sunday, the Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS) delivered 74,048 of the 78,520 vaccine doses it had received, a 94 percent rate. Nez said the goal is to administer 100,000 doses by the end of February. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the broader US has delivered 42,417,617 of its total 59,307,800 doses, or about 71 percent, as of Monday. Dr Loretta Christensen, chief medical officer of the NAIHS, told Al Jazeera the Navajo Nation has been “very good with what we have received and we’ve been very efficient and timely in using that vaccine”. The success comes in administering the vaccine due to planning and high-level cooperation, Christensen said.
9th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

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Facebook cracks down on anti-vaccine accounts amid COVID surge

Facebook Inc. said it will take stronger steps to eliminate false information about Covid-19 and vaccines on its social network, a move that could remove major groups, accounts and Instagram pages for repeatedly spreading misinformation. The company is acting on advice from the World Health Organization and other groups to expand its list of false claims that are harmful, according to a blog post on Monday. Facebook will ask administrators of user groups to moderate such misinformation. Facebook-owned Instagram will also make it harder to find accounts that discourage vaccination, and remove them if they continuously violate the rules. The company this week will also include in its Covid-19 information center details from local health departments about when and where people can get vaccinated. If Facebook’s systems come across content that says the coronavirus is man-made or manufactured, that it is safer to get the disease than to get the vaccine, or that the shots are toxic, dangerous or cause autism, that content will be removed.
9th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

North West Academies Trust campaign to equip all pupils with laptops for home learning

Academic Trust is running a campaign to help children across Cheshire and Shropshire who don't have access to a laptop. Teachers who are part of North West Academies are working hard to maintain the highest possible standard when delivering classes remotely. The Chester-based trust decided to act when, despite distributing all school-owned laptops to pupils, an audit revealed there was still a substantial number of children without the necessary equipment to join the virtual classroom.
8th Feb 2021 - In Your Area

COVID-19: Undocumented migrants 'likely to remain fearful' despite govt's vaccine amnesty offer

The government's "vaccine amnesty" has been criticised for not giving enough assurance to those who are too scared to access healthcare in the UK. The Home Office has promised no action will be taken against people in the UK illegally if they register with a GP to be vaccinated. It is part of a government effort to get as many people as possible vaccinated against the virus, which has already caused the deaths of more than 112,000 people in the UK.
8th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid: BAME communities urged to have coronavirus vaccine

"I'd shout it from the street - please have your vaccinations, you don't know what we're going through." This is a plea from Shamim Abbas of Newport, who lost husband Ghulam and brother-in-law Raza to Covid. The brothers died within hours of each other last April. Concerns have been growing in recent weeks about an apparent hesitancy from some people in black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to have the Covid-19 vaccine. And even though the virus has had such a devastating impact on Shamim's family, some relatives have been unsure about having it.
8th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Web searches could help detect Covid-19 outbreaks early, study says

Using symptom-related searches through Google could allow experts to predict a peak in cases on average 17 days in advance, a group from University College London (UCL) said. Analysing internet search activity is already used to track and understand the seasonal flu. Using data on Covid-19 web searches in a similar way alongside more established approaches could improve public health surveillance methods. “Adding to previous research that has showcased the utility of online search activity in modelling infectious diseases such as influenza, this study provides a new set of tools that can be used to track Covid-19,” said lead author Dr Vasileios Lampos.
8th Feb 2021 - Aberdeen Evening Express

How Australia beat COVID-19 while the United States and Britain broke

Australia is a fortress of hope in a world conquered by COVID-19. But, even as vaccines raise the prospect of relief, the siege is growing stronger. And the cracks in our defences are growing. Incompetence. Hesitance. Partisan politics. All are being blamed across the world for overwhelmed health systems, stalled economies and soaring death rates. Australia has dodged these bullets. So far.
8th Feb 2021 - News.com.au

COVID-19: NHS staff fall victim to anti-Chinese hate crimes - amid fears violence will rise when lockdown ends

Police chiefs have warned they will "respond robustly" to anti-Chinese hate crimes amid concerns there could be a surge in offences once lockdown ends. The COVID-19 Anti-Racism Group (CARG) has told Sky News it is witnessing worrying levels of hate speech online linked to the pandemic - and it fears this will turn into violence when coronavirus restrictions are eased. One Chinese health worker told the survey: "Patients and people in general say that COVID-19 originated from China and that being of Chinese descent is culpable for the pandemic."
8th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Britons set for a post-Covid spending binge, says Bank chief

The Bank of England is braced for the possibility that a mood of national depression that engulfed Britain as it plunged into a third national lockdown will end with a spending spree when restrictions are lifted. In an interview with the Observer, the Bank’s governor, Andrew Bailey, said there was a chance after being cooped up for so long people would “go for it” once the vaccine programme allowed the economy to reopen. Bailey said that while the crisis of the past 12 months had accelerated the shift to online shopping and would change working patterns, the long-term structural impact on the economy would be less pronounced than the shift from manufacturing to services in the 1980s and 1990s. “It won’t be as fundamental as that”, he added.
8th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

New Zealand's Māori tribes deserve recognition for their part in vanquishing Covid-19

Global business leaders and others rightly rate New Zealand’s Covid-19 response as the best in the world. But is it equally right to simply credit Ardern and her government for this success? Partly, of course, but another group deserve credit too – iwi. When the country went into lockdown in March 2020 iwi on the East Coast of the North Island, its west coast, and its northerly tip swung into action distributing masks, sanitizer, written advice, and food parcels to vulnerable people in their region. Crucially, they also set up checkpoints to regulate movement in and out of their territory, ensuring the virus had no chance to transmit as the country went about its restrictions. In the early days some New Zealanders were furious with that particular intrusion on their movements. But despite the small yet vocal backlash, the government came around to the iwi initiatives.
8th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

'It's all open!': French flock to Madrid cafes for pandemic reprieve

French tourists weary of their strict national lockdown are flocking over the border to Madrid, where bars and restaurants are open and people can stay outdoors until 10 p.m., even as COVID-19 batters Europe in a virulent third wave. Though it made mask-wearing mandatory and slashed occupancy of public spaces by half, Madrid’s conservative regional government has set one of Spain’s loosest curfews, defying national recommendations to shut hospitality venues and non-essential shops. The city’s counter-current policies stand out in Spain which, like France, is being pummelled by a third infection wave.
8th Feb 2021 - Reuters

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Gardaí across Ireland respond to 'Jerusalema' dance challenge from Swiss police in bid to lift nation’s spirits

In Ireland, An Garda Síochána have stepped up to the challenge issued by Swiss Federal Police last month which saw Swiss forces performing a mass, socially distant dance routine set to 'Jerusalema' by Master KG. The dance routine was designed to lift spirits of the public during coronavirus restrictions across Europe. After publishing their video, Swiss police directly challenged gardaí to respond with their own version. The official Garda video shows a socially-distanced dance routine featuring members and locations spanning the island of Ireland.
6th Feb 2021 - Independent.ie

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Sixteen African nations show interest in AU COVID vaccine plan

Africa CDC director says countries asked for 114 million doses in total and allocations could be announced within three weeks. Sixteen African countries have shown interest in securing COVID-19 vaccines under an African Union (AU) plan, and allocations could be announced in the next three weeks, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said. While many rich nations have already begun mass inoculation drives, only a few African countries have started vaccinations, and the 55-member African Union hopes to see 60 percent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people immunised in the next three years.
5th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Why Are So Many Health-Care Workers Resisting the Coronavirus Vaccine?

Despite confronting the damage of covid-19 firsthand—and doing work that puts them and their families at high risk—U.S. health-care workers express similar levels of vaccine hesitancy as people in the general population. Recent surveys suggest that, over all, around a third of health-care workers are reluctant to get vaccinated against covid-19. (Around one in five Americans say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated; nationwide, hesitancy is more common among Republicans, rural residents, and people of color.) The rates are higher in certain regions, professions, and racial groups. This hesitancy is less outright rejection than cautious skepticism. It’s driven by suspicions about the evidence supporting the new vaccines and about the motives of those endorsing them. The astonishing speed of vaccine development has made science a victim of its own success
4th Feb 2021 - The New Yorker

Istanbul’s population falls as countryside beckons during COVID

Istanbul’s population fell last year for the first time in at least two decades as coronavirus lockdowns shuttered Turkey’s commercial capital and attracted people to the countryside. The population of Istanbul province shrank 0.4% to 15.46 million, reversing record 3% growth the year before, according to data published by the statistics office on Thursday. The trend followed patterns seen elsewhere around the world during the pandemic. For decades, Turks from around the country of over 83 million have flocked to Istanbul seeking work and opportunities. But since the coronavirus hit, the government has implemented curfews to curb socializing and restricted opening hours for shops and restaurants, making young professionals reassess what they get for their money in big cities. Surrounding provinces were the beneficiaries, with the population of Tekirdag to the west up 2.4% to 1.1 million and Kocaeli to the east up 2.3% to 2 million. The pandemic also struck Istanbul’s tourism sector and universities with tens of thousands of seasonal workers and college students staying away for much of the last year.
4th Feb 2021 - Aljazeera.com

Help parents find a way to let their children exercise, ministers urged

The government needs to give parents a helping hand in providing children the exercise they need during the lockdown half-term, the UK’s leisure industry body has said, after guidance on reintroducing sports clubs failed to materialise. With most schools across England set to break up in 10 days’ time, a period without traditional learning for many children will be followed by one without recourse to sports clubs or activities, as research continues to show a decline in physical activity among the young. Ukactive, which represents the British leisure sector, has been calling for government to provide a “recovery plan” for ensuring physical activity can be safely reintroduced into schools both during term time and holidays
4th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

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Covid is the greatest test of global solidarity in decades – we have to work with, not against, each other

In September 2000, 189 countries signed the Millennium Declaration, shaping the principles of international cooperation for a new era of progress towards common goals. Emerging from the Cold War, we were confident about our capacity to build a multilateral order capable of tackling the big challenges of the time: hunger and extreme poverty, environmental degradation, diseases, economic shocks, and the prevention of conflicts. In September 2015, all countries again committed to an ambitious agenda to tackle global challenges together: the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
3rd Feb 2021 - The Independent

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Mapping coronavirus anti-lockdown protests around the world

Since the start of 2021, a growing number of countries have seen street demonstrations, some of which have turned violent, against government measures implemented to fight COVID-19. Over the same period, nearly 100 countries have imposed nationwide lockdowns or stay-at-home orders, nearly one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
2nd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

As 13 million in US get COVID vaccine, minority uptake uncertain

About 13 million Americans—about 5% of the population 16 years and older—received at least the first of their two COVID-19 vaccine doses in the first month of availability, but limited data paint a foggy picture of how many doses reached key demographics like blacks, according to a report yesterday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Another MMWR study homes in on skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), finding that more than three quarters of residents and almost 40% of staff members have received at least one vaccine dose during the first month. Both studies were led by scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
2nd Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Europol warns travellers over fake Covid-19 vaccine certificates

The EU's police agency on Monday warned travellers to watch for organised crime gangs selling fake Covid-negative certificates at airports, sometimes for as much as 300 euros each. The warning from Europol comes after police busted several suspects selling forged certificates declaring people Covid-19 negative at airports in Britain and France, online and through mobile messaging chat groups in Spain and the Netherlands. Many EU countries and others now require proof that passengers are not infected by the disease, which has killed more than 2.2 million people around the world. Many EU countries and others now require proof that passengers are not infected by the disease, which has killed more than 2.2 million people around the world. "As long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic, it is very likely that criminals will seize the opportunity of producing and selling fake Covid-19 test certificates," Europol said
2nd Feb 2021 - France24

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COVID-19: Every care home resident in England has been offered a coronavirus jab

Every care home resident in England has been offered a COVID-19 jab, the NHS has confirmed, just hours after a new record was set for vaccinations in the UK. Older people living in more than 10,000 care homes across England have either been vaccinated or offered the jab and those forced to wait because of an outbreak of the virus will be treated as soon as possible, health professionals said.
1st Feb 2021 - Sky News

Over 80% of Northern Ireland people will take the coronavirus vaccine

The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland will accept the Covid-19 vaccine when offered - but a hefty minority will not or are still unsure, the new LucidTalk poll has indicated. More than 80% of the population here will definitely get the jabs, 7% said they will not, and 10% do not know, are unsure or have no opinion. The percentage of vaccine supporters is similar to the UK as a whole and also the Republic of Ireland, but it is much higher than some other European countries.
1st Feb 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

More than HALF of Americans say they'll delay getting coronavirus vaccine or REFUSE it altogether

Only 41 per cent of people surveyed said they are happy to be vaccinated now 13 per cent will refuse vaccinations while 31 per cent want to 'wait and see.' Survey also found divisions on political, racial and economic lines in the US. Many are reluctant to get the shots because of myths spread by anti-vaxxers. President Biden plans to roll out 100million doses in 100 days in office
1st Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: Volunteers step forward as vaccination taxis

With the Covid-19 vaccination rollout in full swing, people are stepping forward to volunteer to take people for their jabs. But this service can be more than just a car journey, a connection is being made with some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Carolyn Carter, 56, chairwoman of Chippenham Link Transport in Wiltshire, regularly drives clients to their medical appointments and is now helping with vaccination runs. She said: "I thought long an hard about doing it, but...I can do good by doing this. "Wednesday we were all just backwards and forwards to the surgery. Between the 11 of us we did about 40 trips over two days. "Everyone has been fantastic. They are just helping with whatever they can to get this done."
1st Feb 2021 - BBC News

'We've had enough': In France, Spain and Denmark, anti-lockdown protests continue

Marches to denounce COVID-19 restrictions put in place by various government have been taking place in cities across Europe. An authorized protest in support of culture workers quickly turned into a rave in the centre of Perpignan on Saturday, with about 200 maskless party-goers at the height of the demonstration. The open-air disco, which even had a sound system installed on a podium, was over by the early evening. The group "Men in Black" chanted "Freedom for Denmark. We`ve had enough," as they protested in Aarhus.
1st Feb 2021 - Euronews

Japan's super-spreader weekends

Recent COVID-19 cases in Japan have shot up sharply, leading to another round of partial lockdowns, but reported cases appear subdued compared to the United States or Europe. Total cases in the United States have surpassed 23,000,000 cumulative while the cumulative number for Japan passed 315,000 cases. That is 69 cases per 1,000 people in the United States compared with two cases per 1,000 in Japan. If Japan had the same ratio of cases per 1,000 people as the United States, Japan would have more than 8,700,000 cases. That approximates the population of metropolitan Tokyo. If the United States had the same ratio of cases per 1,000 people as Japan, the number of cases would be under 660,000. That is about the population of Oklahoma City. Much has been researched and written about this disparity, but we will probably not learn of meaningful factors that can explain it for several more years.
1st Feb 2021 - The Japan Times

Italians flock back to coffee bars as COVID-19 restrictions eased

The familiar tinkling of ceramic cups and chatter returned to coffee bars across most of Italy on Monday, as rigid COVID-19 restrictions were eased. After severe curbs over the Christmas and New Year period, two-thirds of Italy was declared a “yellow zone” allowing bars in those less risky areas to serve customers at counters and tables again instead of offering only take-away in plastic cups. The Health Ministry eased restrictions in 15 of Italy’s 20 regions, as the number of people infected continued to fall. Five regions remain red zones and travelling between regions of any colour remains prohibited until mid-February.
1st Feb 2021 - Reuters

Mumbai's suburban train services restored after 11 months

One of the world’s busiest urban rail systems situated in India’s financial capital Mumbai was restarted for all commuters on Monday, 11 months after it was shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection in the city. An average of eight million people were using the train services daily before the pandemic. Operations were stopped in March last year, as part of a strict lockdown imposed by the government. On Monday, commuters trickled into still empty train coaches, wearing masks and armed with sanitisers.
1st Feb 2021 - Reuters

Britain's centenarian fundraiser Captain Tom in hospital with COVID-19

British centenarian Captain Tom Moore, who raised millions of pounds for the health service by walking laps of his garden in last year’s lockdown, has been admitted to hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, his daughter said on Sunday. The World War Two veteran caught the public’s imagination in April, just before his 100th birthday, when he was filmed doing laps with the help of a walking frame around his garden in the village of Marston Moretaine, north of London. He hoped to raise 1,000 pounds. Instead, he raised more than 30 million ($41 million) for the National Health Service, broke two Guinness world records, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, scored a No. 1 single, wrote an autobiography and helped set up a charity.
1st Feb 2021 - Reuters

Couple starts Facebook page that helps thousands of older people get COVID-19 vaccinations

When Russ Schwartz and Katherine Quirk saw that COVID-19 vaccine appointments were going to be distributed online, they immediately thought of their own parents and the senior citizen residents of the South Florida town they call home. "Knowing that seniors were the first group it was going to roll out to, we started to think about the challenges that they might face trying to navigate how all of the information would come through," said Quirk, a pediatric hematology and oncology nurse. Quirk and Schwartz, an elementary school principal, had the idea to start a Facebook group to share information about how to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments. One month later, their Facebook group, South Florida COVID-19 Vaccination Info, has nearly 20,000 members and has helped thousands of people get appointments for COVID-19 vaccines.
1st Feb 2021 - goodmorningamerica.com

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More Brazil protests against Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 response

Protesters in Brazil rallied for the second straight weekend in multiple cities to demand the resignation of President Jair Bolsonaro for his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two hundred people protested on Sunday in Brasilia, the capital, holding signs and banners reading, “Bolsonaro Out” and “Impeachment Now”, while a procession of cars honked their horns in support. Other demonstrations were also held in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
1st Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Hungarians protest against lockdown measures despite gathering ban

Restaurant workers were among hundreds of people protesting against coronavirus lockdown measures on Sunday in Budapest, and at least 100 restaurants planned to re-open even as the government threatened them with heavy fines. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has said it could only start easing the measures if the number of coronavirus cases falls sharply, or if large numbers of Hungarians are inoculated. Hungary became first in the EU this week to sign a deal for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID vaccine and Chinese Sinopharm’s vaccine. nL1N2K40FS. Current lockdown measures include a night curfew and closing secondary schools, and all restaurants and cafes, except for takeaway meals.
31st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Australian Open to be allowed 30,000 fans a day

The Australian Open will be allowed to admit up to 30,000 fans a day, around 50% of the usual attendance, when the Grand Slam gets underway on Feb. 8, Victoria state sports minister Martin Pakula said on Saturday. The limit will be reduced to 25,000 over the last five days of the tournament when there are fewer matches, but Pakula said the announcement would ensure some of the biggest crowds for a sporting event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’ll mean that over the 14 days, we will have up to 390,000 people here at Melbourne Park and that’s about 50% of the average over the last three years,” he told reporters at the venue for the tournament.
30th Jan 2021 - Reuters

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Family Literacy Day emphasizes virtual learning

In Canada, online learning is taking centre stage this year for Family Literacy Day across the country. It's the first time ABC Literacy Canada's event has gone virtual in its 22-year history, but its executive director said it's a crucial component. "What we're saying is that your family can be your social learning environment, your family can be your inspiration," said Mark Rogers. "And in truth, your family is the group that has the most influence on your learning." As different community initiatives go online, Rogers stressed the importance of digital literacy. In particular, as society moves online, he said it can just as crucial to pick up those skills.
28th Jan 2021 - CTV Toronto

Africa secures another 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

Another 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the African continent through the Serum Institute of India, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. With the new doses, on top of the 270 million doses announced earlier this month from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, “I think we’re beginning to make very good progress," Africa CDC director John Nkengasong told reporters. An Africa CDC spokesman said the 400 million doses are of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. As with many vaccine deals, there were no immediate details on cost or how much people might pay per dose.
28th Jan 2021 - The Independent

COVID-19 lockdowns could result in 300,000 fewer US babies this year, and long-lasting economic impact | TheHill

The birth rate in the United States has been declining for years, falling to a record low in 2020. Hopes of a second “baby boom” mirroring that of the mid-1900s have been dashed by the coronavirus pandemic. A new report by NBCLX found that birthrates are dropping at a faster rate than in previous years.
28th Jan 2021 - The Hill

Covid: Social workers 'braced for tsunami of needs' after lockdown

Social workers say they are braced for a "tsunami of needs" as the UK recovers from the pandemic. The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) expects workloads to increase as restrictions are lifted. One worker described a "big surge" in referrals after the first lockdown and the fears of missing something wrong. Officials in all four nations praised the efforts of social workers and highlighted schemes to help vulnerable children set up in the pandemic.
28th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Young People Spreading Covid a Concern in Rapidly Aging Japan

The world’s most rapidly aging society has long struggled to talk to its youth. That’s a disconnect that’s turning deadly in the pandemic. The difficulty in persuading young adults to upend their lifestyles to prevent Covid-19’s spread has challenged countries across the globe. Yet nowhere are the stakes higher than in Japan, where nearly a third of residents are over the age of 65, and the virus response depends on voluntary cooperation. The nation has so far relied on people changing their behavior in its largely successful fight against the virus, as authorities lack the legal ability to enforce lockdowns. But while calling for cooperation worked in the early days of fighting an unknown pathogen, like their global peers younger Japanese are increasingly hit with virus fatigue. That’s left officials struggling to persuade a demographic that’s least likely to be struck by a harsh bout of Covid, but most likely to pass the virus on.
28th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Chinese New Year: Clamping down on going home for the holidays

Today marks the start of the world's largest human migration - an event which sees millions of people travel thousands of miles across China to reach home in time for the Lunar New Year. For some, it is the only time they will see their families all year and is an event not to be missed. But there are fears the Spring Festival travel season, or Chunyun in Chinese, could become a superspreader event. After all, last year's Chunyun is believed to have played a significant role in the spread of Covid-19. So the Chinese authorities have been left with a problem: how do you encourage people to stay local, without actually cancelling the country's biggest annual celebration?
28th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Security forces clash with protesters in locked-down Lebanon

Lebanese security forces clashed for the third night with protesters in Tripoli angry about a coronavirus lockdown, with witnesses and local media reporting that riot police fired live bullets as protesters tried to storm the city’s government building. Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who threw stones, hurled Molotov cocktails and lit a car on fire, a witness and police said. Dozens were wounded. The police did not immediately comment on whether live rounds had been fired. Reuters footage showed sparks hitting the ground, apparently from ricocheting bullets, and the sound of gunfire. It marked the third night of violence in a row in one of Lebanon’s poorest cities, where protesters railed against a strict lockdown that they say has left them with no means to survive the country’s economic collapse.
28th Jan 2021 - Reuters

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Free vaccines and India's humanitarian diplomacy

Large parts of the world are still reeling from the spread of the coronavirus, with renewed lockdowns in effect in many places. With every stricken country focused on tackling its COVID-19 crisis, there is little international generosity in donating large quantities of medicines or vaccines when demand for them is sky-high. So, when India in recent days delivered millions of COVID-19 vaccines as gifts to countries in the Indian Ocean region, it attracted international attention. More than 5 million Indian-made vaccines were airlifted last week to countries extending from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Mauritius and the Seychelles. And millions of more free vaccines are on their way this week.
27th Jan 2021 - The Japan Times

Lucky break or gold standard? How NSW got Covid under control

After weeks of no reported community cases of the virus, a man from south-west Sydney tested positive on 16 December. By the end of that day, two further cases were announced, affecting Sydney’s northern beaches. By mid-January, the summer outbreaks had reached a total of 217 cases. But not long after, on 26 January, NSW marked nine days in a row without any new cases of the virus in the community. NSW’s containment was achieved without the premier, Gladys Berejikian, resorting to the drastic statewide lockdowns or business closures that many called for. Instead, the NSW approach was to focus lockdowns on the most affected suburbs and to reintroduce limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings without banning them altogether. It is not the first time NSW has contained an outbreak with potential to spiral beyond control.
27th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Here are five ways the government could have avoided 100,000 Covid deaths

Yesterday Britain passed a grim milestone. A further 1,631 deaths from Covid-19 were recorded, taking the official tally above 100,000, though data from the Office for National Statistics suggests the total number will now be nearer 120,000. In a briefing, Boris Johnson has said his government did everything it could to minimise the loss of life, but these deaths were far from inevitable. While the number of UK deaths has entered the hundreds of thousands, New Zealand has recorded only 25 deaths from Covid-19 so far. Taiwan has recorded seven, Australia 909, Finland 655, Norway 550 and Singapore 29. These countries have largely returned to normal daily life.
27th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Pushed by pandemic, Germany seeks to boost technology use

The German government on Wednesday agreed on a strategy to boost the use of data for commercial purposes and signed a deal with state education authorities to fund laptops for teachers who have to work from home because of the virus lockdown. The measures are part of a drive to boost digitalization in a country that has fallen behind many of its peers due in part to concerns about privacy and data protection. Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged the country’s digital shortcomings this week, telling participants in a virtual meeting of the annual World Economic Forum that Germany “didn’t look good” when it came to linking up the country’s over 400 regional health agencies, or in the use of IT for distance learning. “We need to get better and faster here,” she said
27th Jan 2021 - Washington Post

YouTube has removed more than half a million videos spreading Covid-19 misinformation

YouTube has removed more than half a million videos spreading misinformation about Covid-19, it has said. Technology platforms from YouTube to Facebook have struggled with keeping public health misinformation in check as the pandemic has spread across the world. False information posted on the site includes information suggesting the virus is not real to discouraging vaccines that can prevent disease. YouTube boss Susan Wojcicki that such videos have been posted in vast numbers the site, even as it looks to stop their spread.
27th Jan 2021 - The Independent on MSN.com

One year after lockdown, Wuhan clubbers hit the dancefloor

Glow-in-the-dark rabbit ears, pulsating beats, and a flexible attitude to masks: nightlife in China's Wuhan is back with a vengeance almost a year after a lockdown brought life to a standstill in the city of 11 million. As the rest of the world continues to grapple with lockdowns and soaring infections, young people in the city, once the epicentre of the novel coronavirus, are enjoying their hard-earned freedom. The hedonistic vibes and champagne on ice are far from the austerity preached by authorities in Beijing. But Chen Qiang, a man in his 20s, praised the Communist Party for having practically eliminated the epidemic, despite a recent surge in cases in other parts of the country in the past few days.
27th Jan 2021 - Times of India

Hospital incursions by Covid deniers putting lives at risk, say health leaders

Lives are being put at risk and the care of patients disrupted by a spate of hospital incursions from Covid-19 deniers whose online activity is channelling hatred against NHS staff, say healthcare and police chiefs. In the latest example of a growing trend, a group of people were ejected by security from a Covid-19 ward last week as one of them filmed staff, claimed that the virus was a hoax and demanded that a seriously ill patient be sent home “He will die if he is taken from from here,” a consultant tells the man on footage, which was later shared on social media. Following contact by the Guardian, Facebook took down footage and other shocking posts in which conspiracy theorists described NHS staff as “ventilator killers”.
27th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

India Has Plenty of Coronavirus Vaccines But Few Takers

Most of the world is struggling to secure enough vaccines to inoculate their populations. India has the opposite problem: Plenty of shots, but a shortage of people willing to take them. As India rolls out one of the world’s biggest inoculation programs, some health-care and other frontline workers are hesitating because of safety concerns over a vaccine that has yet to complete phase III trials. As of Monday, only about 56% of people eligible to get the shot have stepped forward in a nation with the world’s second-worst Covid-19 outbreak. Unless the inoculation rate significantly increases, India will fall far short of its target of inoculating 300 million people -- or about a quarter of the population -- by July. That will setback global efforts to contain the virus and snuff out optimism that a recovery is taking root in an economy set for its biggest annual contraction in records going back to 1952.
26th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

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National museum makes virtual learning fun for children

With Level 5 restrictions ongoing, the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) is inviting children and parents to bring the museum into their home this spring. Children are a key audience at NMI, with approximately 90,000 primary and post-primary students attending its four museum sites in Dublin and Mayo annually. In light of Covid rules, the NMI has had to rethink how students can engage with the national collections. They’ve developed different online resources/activities as part of their ‘Museum in the Classroom’ and ‘Museum at Home’ programmes (www.museum.ie/en-ie/home).
26th Jan 2021 - Irish Examiner

Teachers, students march in France for more virus support

Schoolteachers and university students marched together in protests or went on strike Tuesday around France to demand more government support amid the pandemic. “No virus protocol, no school!” read posters carried by schoolteachers, demanding better virus protections at their schools, which have remained open since September because of the government's concern over learning gaps. “Sick of Zoom!” chanted university students frustrated that they've been barred from campuses since October. The common concern at Tuesday's protests in Paris Marseille and other cities around France was economic.
26th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Lebanese in impoverished north protest coronavirus lockdown

Dozens of Lebanese protesters, enraged at a nearly month-long lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus, took to the streets of the country’s second largest city on Monday and pelted security forces with stones. The security forces responded with tear gas to break up the protesters, who gathered in central Tripoli despite a strict lockdown in place since mid-January aimed at containing a major surge in infection in the small Mediterranean country. Protesters in Tripoli were complaining that their region, the most impoverished in Lebanon, is unable to cope with the nearly month-long lockdown with little to no government assistance.
26th Jan 2021 - The Indian Express

Dutch police detain more than 150 in third night of anti-lockdown violence

Dutch police detained more than 150 people in a third night of unrest in cities across the Netherlands, where roaming groups of rioters set fires, threw rocks and looted stores in violence triggered by a night curfew aimed at curbing the coronavirus. The nation’s first curfew since World War Two followed a warning by the National Institute for Health (RIVM) over a new wave of infections due to the “British variant” of the virus, and was imposed despite weeks of declines in new infections. Ten police were injured in the port city of Rotterdam, where 60 rioters were detained overnight, Dutch news agency ANP said on Tuesday.
26th Jan 2021 - Irish Examiner

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Jan 2021

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COVID-19 cases, deaths in US increase with higher income inequality

U.S. counties with higher income inequality faced higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the first 200 days of the pandemic, according to a new study. Counties with higher proportions of Black or Hispanic residents also had higher rates, the study found, reinforcing earlier research showing the disparate effects of the virus on those communities. The findings, published last week by JAMA Network Open, were based on county-level data for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
25th Jan 2021 - EurekAlert!

'I can't save money for potential emergencies': COVID lockdowns drove older Australians into energy poverty

Many of us who endured lockdowns in Australia are familiar with the surge in energy bills at home. But for older Australians who depend on the Age Pension for income, lockdowns drove many deeper into “energy poverty”. Some faced up to 50% higher bills than in 2019, as a result of COVID. Energy poverty involves low-income households restricting their energy consumption by avoiding certain activities like showering, spending high proportions of their income on energy and, sometimes, being unable to pay bills.
25th Jan 2021 - The Conversation AU

The daily grind never felt sweeter: New Zealanders should enjoy their Covid-free liberties

Most working New Zealanders are back to the grind after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Schools start next week. Parliament resumes on 7 February. Business as usual, but there’s something light-hearted about it in 2021. The tedium and drab necessity of returning to work is tempered by the knowledge that it’s not that bad, that it could be a lot worse. The mere fact we can move around the towns and cities, squeeze into elevators, and mooch around with each other in offices and cafes and doctor’s waiting rooms and any confined space you care to name, is a joy. Freedom isn’t just the open road; freedom is also a day measured in paperclips and paper jams. It’s a freedom denied other countries in lockdown.
25th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis protest over lockdown rules

Hundreds of members of Israel's ultra-Orthodox community have taken to the streets of the country to protest the imposition of lockdown rules to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. Protesters scuffled with police in the city of Bnei Brak, while a 41-year-old bus driver was hurt after he was attacked with pepper spray by demonstrators, who proceeded to set his bus on fire, according to Reuters and eyewitnesses who posted video footage on Twitter. One police officer reportedly fired in the air to repel crowds throwing stones after feeling his life was in danger. Police said that smaller confrontations with ultra-Orthodox protesters also broke out in several other towns, including the port city of Ashdod.
25th Jan 2021 - Middle East Eye

'Lockdown fatigue' cited as UK shopper numbers rose 9% last week

The number of shoppers heading out to retail destinations across Britain rose by 9% last week from the previous week, indicating “lockdown fatigue” for people cooped up at home, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. Footfall across all retail destinations was 65% lower than in the same week last year, Springboard said. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a new national lockdown on Jan. 4 to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatens to overwhelm parts of the health system.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Dutch police detain 240 nationwide as anti-lockdown protests turn violent

Images on Dutch television showed bands of youths looting shops, throwing bicycles and setting fires in the southern city of Eindhoven. At least 55 people were arrested in Eindhoven, the city said in a statement. The demonstration in the city’s Museum Square, which violated a ban on public gatherings, came the day after the government introduced a nightly curfew for the first time since World War Two. Police cleared the square after people ignored instructions to leave and detained those who attacked them with stones and fireworks in nearby streets, the mayor’s office said. Parliament voted narrowly last week to approve the curfew, swayed by assertions that a variant of COVID-19 first identified in Britain was about to cause a new surge in cases. New infections in the country have generally been declining for a month, and fell again on Sunday, to 4,924 new cases.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

As this second Covid wave rips through minorities, inequalities are becoming even more apparent

Within months of Britain’s first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, it grew clear that the virus attacked fiercely along pre-existing pathways of inequality. By May last year, studies showed that the virus discriminates in the same way as society: along racial, class and regional lines, causing twice as many tragic deaths among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and in the most deprived areas. Many wondered if the UK’s inequality epidemic, at last so viscerally exposed, might finally be addressed.
25th Jan 2021 - iNews

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Jan 2021

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More children across northern Lincolnshire plugging into virtual learning thanks to laptop donations

In Grimsby, families struggling with their children's home learning have been given a helping hand by businesses and charitable groups. Phillips 66 Humber Refinery at Killingholme has donated 100 laptops and software worth £45,000 to local schools in support of pupils' home learning. The donation came after Grimsby Live highlighted how some families with five children only had one device for virtual learning during the latest lockdown.
24th Jan 2021 - Grimsby Live

Police detain 100 in Amsterdam after protest over lockdown, curfew

Rioters looted stores, set fires and clashed with police in several Dutch cities on Sunday, resulting in more than 240 arrests, police and Dutch media reported. The unrest came on the second day of new, tougher coronavirus restrictions, including a night curfew, which had prompted demonstrations. Police used water cannon, dogs and mounted officers to disperse a protest in central Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon, witnesses said. Nearly 200 people, some of them throwing stones and fireworks, were detained in the city, police said.
24th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Help With Vaccination Push Comes From Unexpected Businesses

Amazon wrote to President Biden on Thursday offering to assist with communication and technology. Microsoft is opening up its largely empty office campus as a vaccination center as part of a broader partnership with the State of Washington. Starbucks is assigning workers from its operations and analytics departments to help design vaccination sites, donating the labor to the same state while continuing to pay employees. While some retailers and pharmacy chains have been directly involved in the rollout of coronavirus vaccinations, more surprising is the number of companies that have offered help despite having little to do with health care. What these companies do have are vast national footprints, significant manpower, huge distribution warehouses and, in some cases, empty office buildings. And they have the money to spare for a public service effort that could boost both their public image and their bottom line.
23rd Jan 2021 - The New York Times

How does fake news of 5G and COVID-19 spread worldwide?

A recent study finds misinformation on the new coronavirus spreads differently across various countries. However, there was a consistent misunderstanding of 5G technology. Among the search topics examined, the myth around 5G having links to COVID-19 was the one that spread fastest. Dispelling myths and encouraging people to fact-check sources could help build trust with the public.
23rd Jan 2021 - Medical News Today

Phnom Penh yoga fans return to mat after lockdown - with a beer

For some, a post-lockdown group activity that combines exercise with alcohol may seem like the ideal coronavirus stress-buster - though yoga purists should probably avoid Phnom Penh’s TwoBirds Craft Beer brewery while it’s taking place. The brewery’s yoga classes, resumed after a six-week lockdown across Cambodia - which has officially recorded not a single COVID death - was lifted on Jan. 1, combine holding a pose with clutching a beer, and they’re attracting devotees. “I have more fun with beer yoga. It’s not as serious as traditional yoga,” said Sreyline Bacha, 25, as she reached for a beer glass, wobbling just a little to maintain her balance in a pose.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Portugal holds presidential election as COVID-19 cases spiral

Portuguese voters - largely confined to their homes due to a strict COVID-19 lockdown - will pick a new president on Sunday, but many fear going to the polls could worsen a surge in coronavirus cases and low turnout is expected. The country of 10 million people, which fared better than others in the first wave of the pandemic, now has the world’s highest seven-day rolling average of new cases and deaths per capita. Authorities reported a record daily toll of 274 deaths and more than 15,300 new cases on Saturday. “It wouldn’t have been a problem to wait another month. Exceptional times call for exceptional measures,” said Lisbon resident Miguel Goncalves, 55.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

India’s female health workers on rural front line get COVID shot

Jyoti Bhambure is usually the one dispensing medicine – this week she was at the receiving end, among the first in India’s million-strong force of women health workers to win a COVID-19 vaccine. Dressed in a bright green sari with a gold border, Bhambure visited the small, rural hospital in western India at the time allotted and said the jab had lifted a weight off her shoulders. “I no longer fear the coronavirus,” said Bhambure, after getting her initial dose on Tuesday, one of the first tranche of front line workers to win protection in the pandemic. “We handle children and interact with mothers,” she said. “So I am glad I am vaccinated. I have no fear left in my mind.” India has suffered 152,000 deaths due to the virus and has prioritised about 30 million front-line workers in the first phase of an inoculation drive that began on January 16.
22nd Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Brits 'jumping Covid vaccine queue as NHS appointment links shared on WhatsApp'

Britons are jumping Covid-19 vaccine queues by signing up through NHS appointment links shared on WhatsApp and social media, it is reported. It means ineligible people are being given jabs which should go to the UK's most vulnerable residents and health workers thanks to an IT loophole. The links are part of Swiftqueue's online booking system which is being used by some NHS trusts, an investigation by the Evening Standard found. It said there is evidence that people who are not on a priority list have used the portal to get Covid-19 jabs in east London and parts of the north.
22nd Jan 2021 - Mirror Online

Brazil’s most vulnerable communities face COVID food crisis

Coronavirus is spreading and the death toll is mounting — but what most worries the leaders of Brazil’s isolated and vulnerable communities is how on earth to feed people now that the government has pulled their main emergency aid. Ivone Rocha is cofounder of Semeando Amor (Sowing Love), a non-profit that distributes basic staples to some of the very poorest people in Rio das Pedras, one of Rio de Janeiro’s many favelas. For most of last year, they had received a decent government stipend to survive the pandemic, but that all ended with 2020, unleashing a frenzy of favela requests for food. “People here have no jobs,” Rocha told Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “Now the aid has ended. My God, what will happen?” It was April when Congress first passed a bill that established the monthly $600 real ($112) stipend — a little over half the country’s minimum wage — pledging to tide people over for three months during the pandemic.
22nd Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

UK imams, influencers counter COVID vaccine misinformation

Imams across the United Kingdom are helping a drive to dispel coronavirus misinformation, using Friday sermons and their influential standing within Muslim communities to argue that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Qari Asim, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) which is leading a campaign to reassure its faithful, is among those publicly advocating that the inoculations are compatible with Islamic practices. “We are confident that the two vaccines that have been used in the UK, Oxford Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer, are permissible from an Islamic perspective,” he told the AFP news agency. “The hesitancy, the anxiety (and) concern is driven by misinformation, conspiracy theories, fake news and rumours.”
21st Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com

Covid-19 long-haulers want you to know that they're still not okay

Ten months have passed since Suzanne Hughes first fell ill. Before March 2020, the 56-year-old would go for long walks along the Welsh coast and spend hours tending to her garden. Now she feels lucky if she manages to walk more than a couple of minutes from her front door. “I can only do 30 per cent of what I’d like to do,” Hughes says. Even small exertions require a trade-off between what she wants to achieve now and how she’ll be feeling hours later. “Everything I do, I have to think, ‘What is this going to do to me? What’s the payback?’” Although we are still deep within the darkest days of the pandemic, with almost six per cent of the UK population already vaccinated against Covid-19 it is becoming possible to imagine life beyond the pandemic. In the coming months many of us will return to lives no longer dominated by a virus that has already taken so much from us. Covid-19 long haulers may never get that luxury.
19th Jan 2021 - Wired.co.uk

Use 'Order Local' to help your favourite takeaway - and businesses can sign up for free

Businesses across the UK are once again facing a battle to survive - and once again we are here to help support them. For the third time, our Order Local campaign is relaunching to put independent businesses - particularly the hardest-hit retail and hospitality sectors - in touch with as many customers as possible. All business owners need to do is list themselves in the form below, or here, if they’re still open for delivery or collection and their services will be publicised for free in our interactive search tool to potential customers in their area.
18th Jan 2021 - The Mirror

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Jan 2021

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This is what will happen to Covid-19 when the pandemic is over

After months of not knowing how the Covid-19 pandemic would end, we now have some answers. Vaccines that came even faster and work even better than anticipated are the light at the end of this very dark, long tunnel – the beginning of the end is in sight. But the virus is unlikely to go away for good. The global race to vaccinate as many people as possible will usher in a new phase of our fight against Covid-19, yet there is little chance it will deliver a knockout blow. In the long run, what started as a global pandemic may become yet another example of humankind learning to live alongside a deadly virus.
21st Jan 2021 - Wired.co.uk

Coronavirus: Emmanuel Macron promises more support for students in France

French university students have protested against the financial and psychological effects of the lockdown. The French president has promised to allow a very limited return to campus. French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday pledged more support for students affected by university closures. Students had protested on Wednesday against campus closures as part of coronavirus restrictions, calling for a resumption of in-person teaching. They rallied against the financial and psychological effects of the lockdown.
21st Jan 2021 - Deutsche Welle on MSN.com

Wealthy UK flyers opt for private jets to evade Covid and lockdowns

Wealthy flyers in the UK are opting for private jets and charter flights to evade Covid-19 and beat sudden lockdowns, data shows. While the number of commercial flights from the UK has dropped by three-quarters since the start of the pandemic, private flights are down only 42% compared with 2019, according to the aviation consultancy WingX. In August, demand for private jets was back to 93% of normal levels, while scheduled flights were down 65%. Another rebound was seen around Christmas, with private flights operating at around 70% of pre-pandemic levels in December.
21st Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Research finds people more likely to follow Covid rules when friends and family do

New research has shown that people are more likely to follow Covid-19 restrictions based on what their friends do, rather than their own principles. Research led by the University of Nottingham carried out in partnership with experts in collective behaviour from British, French, German and American universities shows how social influence affects people's adherance to government restrictions. The researchers found that the best predictor of people's compliance to the rules was how much their close circle complied with the rules, which had an even stronger effect than people's own approval of the rules. The research published in British Journal of Psychology highlights a blindspot in policy responses to the pandemic. It also suggests that including experts in human and social behaviour is crucial when planning the next stages of the pandemic response, such as how to ensure that people comply with extended lockdowns or vaccination recommendations.
21st Jan 2021 - EurekAlert

Remember normal? Pfizer and BioNTech join with health groups to remind us—and promote COVID-19 vaccine safety

Remember hugging, playing with grandchildren, kissing people goodbye and sharing exciting news with family in person? While COVID-19 has kiboshed those things, Pfizer and BioNTech want to remind people about them—and how they'll be possible again with vaccines. The Comirnaty vaccine makers, together with a coalition of health organizations, recently debuted an awareness campaign aimed at shoring up confidence in the new COVID-19 shots. The 25- to 30-second videos are real takes of real people—found online and then licensed with consent for the digital campaign, which launched last week on social media. Future plans include a move to local TV.
21st Jan 2021 - FiercePharma

Wuhan bustles a year after world's first coronavirus lockdown

Barriers still enclose Wuhan's notorious seafood market -- one of the few immediate reminders the city was once the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic that has transformed the world. Otherwise, the new normal in the central Chinese city of 11 million is much like the old reality; cars buzz down highways, sideways bustle with shoppers and public transport and parks are busy
21st Jan 2021 - Times of India

Tennis-Anderson urges players to show more respect for Australia's COVID-19 fight

Former U.S. Open and Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson appealed to players at the Australian Open to show more respect for the local community’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, following a chorus of complaints about quarantine conditions in Melbourne. As many as 72 players are confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks and unable to train for the Feb. 8-21 Grand Slam after passengers on three charter flights tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Complaints by some players over the severity of the health measures, food quality and even mice infestations in their rooms have sparked a backlash in Australia, which has many citizens stranded overseas due to pandemic-linked border restrictions. Novak Djokovic was panned after writing to Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley to ask for reduced isolation periods and having players moved to “private houses with tennis courts”.
21st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Good news for shot-makers: COVID-19 vaccine confidence leaps to 69%, Harris Poll finds

Americans are back on the COVID-19 vaccine bandwagon. Sixty-nine percent now plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine, close to the previous high of 73% in April, according to the latest data from The Harris Poll. At the lowest point in October, vaccine skepticism had far more Americans hesitating: Just 58% said they would get a vaccine. That’s good news for vaccine makers—and at least a little better news for public health officials, who say a minimum 75% of the population will need to be vaccinated to stop COVID-19. That percentage has been moving upwards of late; Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), recently admitted the goal may need to move as high as 90% to truly halt the U.S. outbreak.
21st Jan 2021 - FiercePharma

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jan 2021

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Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine ... the just way

A look at COVID-19 vaccine distribution and how the developing world will almost certainly be left behind in the vaccination process.
20th Jan 2021 - Deutsche Welle

Coronavirus: French students highlight pandemic's mental health toll

French students have planned a series of protests on Wednesday to draw attention to the rising mental health problems many say they are suffering as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. A combination of isolation, inactivity and a broader loss of purpose has left many students close to breakdown, according to university psychologists. Student mental health resources, such as counsellors, have been overwhelmed by the numbers seeking help in recent weeks. In the last two weeks alone, two undergraduates in Lyon have tried to take their lives.
20th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Covid: Crops 'damaged nationwide' by lockdown walkers avoiding mud

Crops are "being damaged nationwide" by lockdown walkers avoiding mud, a rural business organisation has said. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said an influx of people walking over planted crops was affecting farmers' businesses. One farmer said there had been a tenfold increase in walkers during lockdown, while another had seen a 5ft (1.5m) path widen to 36ft (11m) across. Walking charity Ramblers said people must "stick to marked paths". CLA president Mark Bridgeman said while he did not want to discourage people from using the countryside, "crops are being damaged nationwide" by those avoiding quagmires.
20th Jan 2021 - BBC News

China triumphant one year after Wuhan lockdown

"People Supremacy, Life Supremacy" reads the sign at a Wuhan exhibition, where visitors are greeted by a paean to China's triumph over the pandemic and the agility of its communist leadership in a crisis. Saturday marks one year since the start of a 76-day lockdown of Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected before sweeping across the world and killing more than two million people. With China's official death toll from the virus under 5,000, Beijing is on a prolonged victory lap to promote its narrative of how it contained Covid-19, engineered vaccines and rebooted its economy.
20th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Australian Open linked to more coronavirus cases after arrivals for grand slam

Ten people who have flown to Melbourne for the Australian Open have tested positive to coronavirus, authorities said. Lisa Neville, police minister for the state of Victoria, reported three new cases on Wednesday, adding one of the cases was a player who has been in "hard lockdown" since arrival into Australia as he came in on a flight where positive cases had been recorded. The second case related to another player and the third is a support person with the player, she added. Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said the safety of the Victorian community will not be compromised, but added the body was walking a "tightrope"
20th Jan 2021 - The Independent

New Zealand Hosts 20,000-Person Concert as Country Marks 2 Months Without COVID in Community

On January 16, New Zealand held a 20,000-person outdoor concert where attendees neither had to wear face masks nor observe social distancing measures. The concert occurred as the country marked its second month without any new COVID-19 transmissions occurring between citizens. The concert was the first stop in the six-stop summer tour of the native soul-pop band Six60. Before Six60's concert, the country had hosted various New Year's Eve music festivals that also had massive crowds, including Rhythm and Vines, Rhythm & Alps and the Northern Bass festivals, each held in different parts of the nation, according to NME
20th Jan 2021 - Newsweek

Is Joe Wicks ok?

Cometh a third lockdown, cometh Joe Wicks: once more beaming positivity and PE lessons into our lounges. But what about his own mental state? Kerry Potter stretches off and listens to his woes
20th Jan 2021 - Evening Standard

Race, income inequality fuel COVID disparities in US counties

A study today in JAMA Network Open details US county-level COVID-19 infection and death inequities based on racial composition and income in the first 200 days of the pandemic, adding to mounting evidence of disproportionate burdens among racial minorities and those of lower income levels. Researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and DePaul University analyzed data from seven US agencies and organizations on all but 1 of 3,142 counties in 50 states and Washington, D.C. from Jan 22 to Aug 8. They found that a 1.0% increase in a county's income inequality was associated with a 2.0% increase in COVID-19 infection and a 3.0% rise in related deaths.
20th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Desperate relatives of Covid patients in Brazil queue for hours to fill their loved-ones' oxygen tanks as mutant strain ravages country

Amozonas state has been gripped by a devastating resurgence of the disease and doctors at hospitals in Manaus, the rainforest's largest city, are having to decide which of their patients should get oxygen. Desperate family members queued up outside a local oxygen plant during a downpour on Tuesday. They arrived with huge green tanks to be filled with oxygen and then rushed back to their ailing relatives. Comes as Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro dispatched oxygen to the region infuriating President Jair Bolsonaro. 'He could give aid to his people too, right? Wages there don't buy half a kilo of rice,' Bolsonaro said
20th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Winterwatch wildlife to help get us all through coronavirus lockdown three

Springwatch helped many people in the UK get through the first lockdown. So it was a joy to have Winterwatch on our screens, reminding us that even during these dark days we can still be inspired by the great outdoors. Winterwatch presenter Chris Packham says: “People think winter’s a dead time, which is so wrong. All of our seasons are always setting up for the next one.They are always dynamic, so there’s always an enormous amount of things going on. You have the bite of the cold up your nose and beautiful clear skies – and it’s a great time to see wildlife. Now is the time to make that extra special effort.”
20th Jan 2021 - Mirror.co.uk

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Jan 2021

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Bells and candlelight to honor 400,000 COVID-19 dead on eve of Trump's White House departure

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday led a national memorial observance on the eve of his inauguration to honor the 400,000 Americans who have perished from COVID-19 during the 11 months since the novel coronavirus claimed its first U.S. life. The sundown commemoration came hours before President Donald Trump was due to depart the White House for the last time and hand over a country wracked by the greatest public health crisis in a century, economic devastation and violent political upheaval. Ceremonies spearheaded by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris from the base of the Lincoln Memorial marked the federal government’s first official nod to the staggering death toll from the pandemic.
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Campaign launched to help children have access to a laptop in Doncaster

Laptops for Kids was an idea created by David Richards - founder and chief executive of WANdisco - who launched the campaign in Sheffield with The Star and Learn Sheffield in September 2020. Individuals and businesses donate unused computers, which are recycled and cleaned, ready to be distributed to a young person who is currently unable to learn at home. A spokesperson for Laptops for Kids Doncaster, said: “The unfortunate reality is that for many young people, virtual learning = digital isolation. Something that many of us assume is a basic necessity - access to digital tech - is a very real challenge for lots of young people...right now.”
19th Jan 2021 - Doncaster Free Press

Fang Fang: Author vilified for Wuhan Diary speaks out a year on

She has faced a nationalist backlash for her diaries documenting life in Wuhan in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, but Chinese author Fang Fang she says she will not be silenced. "When facing a catastrophe, it's vital to voice your opinion and give your advice," she told BBC Chinese in a rare email interview with international media. In late January, when Wuhan became the first place in the world to enter a state of complete lockdown, many of the city's 11 million residents found solace in reading Fang Fang's online diaries. They also provided a revealing glimpse into the city where the virus first emerged.
19th Jan 2021 - BBC News

As Chinese cities face new Covid-19 lockdowns, have 2020 lessons been learned?

Echoes in Hebei of measures a year ago in Wuhan, with students stranded in icy conditions and some people unable to get routine medical treatment. Residents complain of mistakes being repeated, as countries continue to struggle to balance a speedy response with the public’s wider needs
19th Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

Most Americans want vaccine as nation tops 400,000 COVID deaths

One day before Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, a new poll from Washington Post-ABC News shows that 52% of Americans think the coronavirus outbreak is out of control, and 62% say trying to control the pandemic is more important than restarting the economy. The numbers come as a national vaccine campaign has rolled out in fits and starts across the country. Though the new poll still shows a political divide, most Americans said they will (40%) or probably will (23%) get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is made available to them. Half of Democrats polled said they would definitely get a vaccine, while only 25% of Republicans said the same.
19th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

GP couple give covid vaccine to housebound patients on their day off

In England, newlywed doctors spent their day off going door-to-door to get the coronavirus vaccine to housebound patients. GP duo Dominique Thompson and Simon Bradley volunteered their spare time to vaccinate 36 vulnerable people in the Little Stoke area of South Gloucestershire. They spent most of Friday driving and wheeling around vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in a special trolley, and administering it to patients in their own homes. All patients were eligible to get the vaccine at Concord Medical Centre, where Dr Bradley works, but were unable to get there. He said: "We just wanted to get out and vaccinate our housebound."
19th Jan 2021 - Bristol Live

Unwanted tech helps bridge 'digital divide' in lockdown Britain

Nearly one in 10 British families - including up to 1.8 million children - had no computer or tablet at home at the start of the pandemic, according to estimates from the country’s Ofcom media regulator. The government has pledged more than a million laptops to help children get online, and has said that those without computers at home can attend school if necessary. But education experts and charities have warned that many poorer families are still struggling with a “digital divide” that risks widening existing education gaps. Dozens of business and community-led computer donation schemes have sprung up around the country to help plug gaps, an offshoot of “mutual aid” community groups established in many neighbourhoods to help the vulnerable during the pandemic.
18th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Jan 2021

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Healthy Kids: Program seeks volunteer families to help teach empathy to local students

In Oregon, a unique program that teaches emotional literacy to first and second graders in Lane County is looking for families with young babies to volunteer in its revamped, virtual program. “Roots of Empathy supports emotional health and mental health and well-being by creating a safe space for children to process and talk about their emotions,” says Sara Loveless, the program implementation coordinator for Roots of Empathy in Lane County. “Students observe behaviors in babies and then are able to flip it back on themselves and recognize those behaviors around them.”
18th Jan 2021 - nbc16.com

Wildlife Trust launches My Wild Winter pack to keep children entertained

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is hoping to keep young people connected to nature during lockdown by launching its My Wild Winter pack. The My Wild Winter pack is full of ideas of how to explore nature and wild places locally, as part of the permitted daily exercise during lockdown 3. The pack is completely free to sign up to and gives lots of tips and inspiration on how best to enjoy and support the natural world during winter.
18th Jan 2021 - In Your Area

Coronavirus in Scotland: CMO Dr Gregor Smith ‘really concerned’ by Covid-19 vaccine misinformation on social media

Scotland’s most senior health chief has revealed that he is “really concerned” by coronavirus vaccine misinformation, as he warned Scots to avoid spurious claims on social media. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, called bogus claims about vaccines “one of the biggest dangers that we face”, and called on the public to seek out trusted sources of information. Speaking at the First Minister’s daily press briefing, Dr Smith said misinformation “makes me really concerned because it preys on people's anxiety and fear. “My plea to everyone is to read trusted sources of information in relation to the vaccination.”
18th Jan 2021 - The Scotsman on MSN.com

Covid: New Zealanders attend largest ever concert since pandemic began

Thousands of New Zealanders flocked to a music concert on Saturday, in stark contrast to the UK which remains under lockdown. Huge crowds gathered to watch the nation’s most famous band, Six60, perform at a sports grounds in Waitangi – the largest outdoor show allowed to go ahead in the country since the pandemic began. People were pictured brushing against each other and coming into close contact without wearing masks. Guitarist Chris Mac even interacted with the crowd, which did not have to abide by social distancing rules. As of January 15, New Zealand had 76 active cases of the virus, raising its overall total to 2,246 infections since the start of the outbreak. Residents are no longer required to social distance due to low rates of transmission and are only encouraged to wear face masks on public transport except for in Auckland, where it is a legal requirement.
18th Jan 2021 - Metro.co.uk

Staying safe in the time of coronavirus: pay attention to ‘the guy you know’

"For the last nine months, my team of anthropologists and I have been asking people across the United States to tell us their experiences of living during a global pandemic. We have seen a dangerous theme emerge: the belief that dangers of the virus come from strangers and that friendship and family ties can cancel contagion. Though logical, these interpretations of biology are wrong — sometimes dead wrong. Stories help people make sense of a world in crisis. They can also lead to potentially harmful behaviors that can interfere with the ability to stay healthy or protect loved ones from Covid-19. When we asked dozens of interviewees across a spectrum of demographics, “What is Covid-19?” they consistently responded with answers like, “It’s a guy we don’t know,” or “It’s dangerous because we know the cold and the flu, but we don’t know this one.”
18th Jan 2021 - STAT News

Thousands protest in Amsterdam against Dutch coronavirus lockdown

Several thousand people held an unauthorised protest in Amsterdam on Sunday against a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, before being dispersed by riot police. The protesters gathered on a square in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum art galleries, carrying signs reading “Freedom: stop this siege” and chanting “What do we want? Freedom!”. None wore masks, which are not mandatory, and few respected social distancing rules. Authorities had declined an application for the protest to be held on Museum Square. The demonstrators refused to leave when police told them to do so, and some threw fireworks.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

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Virtual library gives children in England free book access

Children in England will be able to access books online free during school closures via a virtual library. Internet classroom Oak National Academy created the library after schools moved to remote learning for the majority of pupils until February half-term. Formed with The National Literacy Trust, the library will provide a book a week from its author of the week. The aim is to increase young readers' access to e-books and audiobooks, particularly the most disadvantaged.
17th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Bayer aims to help CureVac with COVID-19 vaccine output, says CEO

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer is examining whether it can help CureVac to produce its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, its chief executive was quoted as saying on Sunday. Though inoculation campaigns have started around the world using various COVID-19 vaccines, many countries say their ability to get shots into arms is being limited by lower than expected supplies owing to a shortage of production. “We are prepared to pull out all the stops for this,” Werner Baumann told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “This is not primarily about financial considerations but about making the vaccine available as quickly as possible.” Bayer agreed this month to help fellow German company CureVac with development of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which is in late-stage clinical trials and has not yet been approved.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Thousands Take To Streets To Protest Over Vienna's New Lockdown Laws As Cases Spike Again

On Saturday, January 16, thousands of people marched through Vienna to protest against the restrictions kept in place to battle the novel coronavirus. According to the reports by CNA, the demonstrators chanted "Kurz Must Go" and "Make Influenza Great Again" during marches through the city centre. Also, the demonstrators were not seen wearing any mask. The protests began when Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his government discussed extending the existing lockdown in Austria. The lockdown includes movement restrictions and the closure of all non-essential businesses. However, no official announcement has come as of now. People took to their social media handles and shared image and videos from the protest march. Let’s have a look.
17th Jan 2021 - RepublicWorld

From hard lockdown to tactful reopening: How China bounced back from Covid

The smell, salty and pungent, wafts through the freshly paved streets near the gleaming new factory. The factory is owned by a company called Laoganma, which makes a piquant chili-and-soybean sauce famous across China for its power to set mouths watering. In a time of global pandemic, when the jobs of working people around the world hang in the balance, the factory’s scents signal opportunity. Since it opened in March, when China was still in the grip of Covid-19, the factory has struggled to find enough machinery operators or quality control technicians. Now workers are flocking to Changmingzhen, a once-quiet farming town ringed with green mountains and rice paddies, from which young people once fled for better jobs elsewhere.
17th Jan 2021 - Business Standard

Tonga's dog population surges as coronavirus restrictions keep foreign vets out of the country

While dog shelters were left empty and people in Australia had to wait months for a dog due to the surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tonga's main island of Tongatapu has had the opposite problem. The closure of international borders meant foreign vets from South Pacific Animal Welfare (SPAW) couldn't run their free desexing programs in the country — and without a qualified vet in Tonga, there are now estimated to be more than 20,000 dogs on Tongatapu alone. Angela Glover, vice-president of the Tonga Animal Welfare Society, said the need for veterinary care has never been more urgent.
17th Jan 2021 - abc.net.au

People from ethnic minorities far more hesitant to take coronavirus vaccine

Scientific advisers are concerned about the coronavirus vaccine uptake among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, following the release of data from a new study. Research from the UK Household Longitudinal Study – which conducts annual interviews to gain a long-term perspective on British people’s lives – showed 72 per cent of black people said they were unlikely to have the jab. A report from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) highlighted the persisting problems of structural, and institutional racism, and historic under representation in healthcare research, as driving the reduced levels of trust in the vaccination programme.
17th Jan 2021 - iNews on MSN.com

NHS heroes fear Government are using them as coronavirus vaccine 'guinea pigs'

NHS heroes have blasted the Government for using them as “guinea pigs” by denying them an early booster vaccine. Doctors, nurses and paramedics fighting Covid must wait three months like the rest of us for a second jab – instead of the three weeks recommended after manufacturer trials. But calls are growing for frontline heroes to get the booster within the 21 days vaccine maker Pfizer deems vital for best protection. The UK’s chief medical officers recommended the 12-week gap so more of the population can get some immunity from the first jab. Currently, the NHS is under severe strain with record numbers of Covid patients.
15th Jan 2021 - Mirror Online

African Union vaccines to be allocated according to population

Millions of coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the African Union (AU) will be allocated according to countries’ population size, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday. Ramaphosa, who is the current AU chairman, said on Wednesday that vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca would be available this year, but he did not specify how much each African country would get. No African countries have begun large-scale coronavirus vaccination campaigns and the AU’s 270 million shots, if administered two per person, would still only cover around 10% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.
15th Jan 2021 - CNBC Africa

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100,000 hours: Uni students, teachers and professors offer free tutoring during lockdown

In the UK, lockdown means that the country’s young are fitting remote learning around a much-changed, yet monotonous daily life. Students have been in and out of the classroom for almost a year now. Taking children out of the classroom and putting them in their homes to learn has highlighted inequality up and down the country. Schools are being relied on to teach from a distance, which in theory sounds feasible, but the practical application has proved much more difficult. CloseTheLockdownGap is a new initiative that aims to provide 100,000 hours of free education to help close the ‘lockdown gap’. Set up by brothers Mustafaen and Arsalan Kamal, CloseTheLockdown Gap has called on university students, graduates, teachers and professors to volunteer anything from 30 minutes of their time to provide a one-to-one online learning environment that can help students make up for some of the time lost in the classroom.
14th Jan 2021 - ITV News

Bridging the digital divide in new lockdown

With schools closed to the majority of pupils across the UK once more, the challenges disadvantaged pupils are facing accessing online learning have reappeared. Despite ongoing government support and pledges for more laptops for schools, families are struggling to get the devices their children need. If you have a laptop or tablet that you want to donate then please go to bbc.co.uk/makeadifference where you can find details of charities who will help get them safely wiped and sent to the children that need them the most.
14th Jan 2021 - BBC News

What should I know about COVID-19 vaccines if I'm pregnant?

What should I know about COVID-19 vaccines if I’m pregnant? Vaccination is likely the best way to prevent COVID-19 in pregnancy, when risks for severe illness and death from the virus are higher than usual. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says COVID-19 vaccinations should not be withheld from pregnant women and that women should discuss individual risks and benefits with their health care providers. The U.S. government’s emergency authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being rolled out for priority groups doesn’t list pregnancy as a reason to withhold the shots.
14th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Embracing new challenges! From yoga in the garage to getting creative from home, how the UK is adapting to life under lockdown

In the UK, we have all experienced huge changes to our daily routines as we play our part in helping beat the virus. Many of these changes have been challenging, but people are finding creative ways to adapt positively to our new circumstances. Whether it is studying for a qualification, rediscovering the joy of reading or trying out new recipes, there are plenty of approaches to take advantage of the extra time we are now having to spend at home. Others have enjoyed catching up with friends on Zoom or phoning to check on the wellbeing of people living alone as part of the NHS Volunteer Responders programme. Here we look at how people are embracing living responsibly under the restrictions.
14th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

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Palestinians desperately await COVID-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a coronavirus vaccine jab on December 19, kicking off a national roll-out that has made Israel the world’s COVID-19 vaccination drive leader. But while Israel’s vaccination campaign even includes Jewish settlers living deep inside the illegally occupied West Bank, it will exclude the nearly five million Palestinians living under occupation there or in the blockaded Gaza Strip. They will have to wait for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers parts of the West Bank under interim peace agreements signed in the 1990s, to provide the jabs. The Palestinian health ministry expects the first batches of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in the occupied West Bank and Gaza at the beginning of March, more than two months after Israel began its roll-out.
14th Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Joan Bakewell threatens legal action over delays to second Covid vaccine dose

The journalist and Labour peer Joan Bakewell is threatening the government with legal action over its policy to delay the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid vaccine. Lady Bakewell, 87, said there were grounds to show the decision taken by ministers to widen the gap between doses – from the three weeks recommended by the manufacturer to up to 12 weeks – was unlawful. She has instructed the law firm Leigh Day to start proceedings in response to the new dosing strategy, and names the respondent as the health secretary, Matt Hancock.
13th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Police in talks with ministers about tightening 'vague' lockdown exercise rules

Police are in talks with ministers to tighten the "woolly" and "incredibly vague" lockdown regulations around exercise, a senior officer has said. Existing rules are "a real challenge", Owen Weatherill, from the National Police Chiefs' Council, told a committee of MPs on Wednesday. The assistant chief constable, who is leading the policing response to the pandemic in England and Wales, was giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr Weatherill told members police were holding discussions with the Home Office and the Department of Health, in the hope that they could "give greater clarity to the public and also to our officers". He said: "It's really difficult to get the right balance, I don't think there's a perfect answer for anybody, because whichever way you frame it somebody will be disadvantaged. That's the reality of what we're dealing with here. "There was a deliberate effort to try and make it flexible initially so there was a degree of freedom of choice for people, and you could exercise some of the decisions you wanted to within certain ranges, but that clearly is presenting other problems.
13th Jan 2021 - Sky News

COVID-19: Compliance with restrictions at highest point since first lockdown, new data reveals

Compliance with coronavirus rules has risen sharply since December and is now at its highest point since the first lockdown, according to a major new survey seen by Sky News. The results cast doubt on the government's claims that rule-breaking is contributing to a rise in COVID-19 deaths, after ministers and senior police officers warned that enforcement would be increased to ensure compliance. But while the restrictions are being followed by most people, the study confirmed "rule-bending" remains as commonplace as throughout the pandemic, with a large minority adding their own "modifications" to the rules, especially when it comes to meeting other people and self-isolation time.
13th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: Breaking down Asian vaccine myths in Lancashire

A teacher is making online videos with children to tackle myths in South Asian communities about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine. A study recently found some ethnic minorities were targeted with inaccurate anti-vaccination messages. Neetal Parekh, from Preston, believes the language barrier is one reason why some older people have been scared to have the vaccine. She said many were being misled "simply because they do not know enough". The 36-year-old has created a collection of short videos of young children urging their grandparents to have the vaccine in a variety of South Asian languages such as Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
13th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Tokyo's Covid outbreak adds to doubts over hosting Olympic Games

A dramatic rise in coronavirus cases in Tokyo has reignited speculation about the Olympic Games, which are due to open in the city in just over six months’ time. Japan widened its coronavirus state of emergency to cover more than half the population on Wednesday as surging infections sparked warnings of intense pressure on hospitals. The prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, said anti-virus measures introduced in the greater Tokyo region – at the centre of the latest wave of cases – would be expanded to include seven other prefectures. Suga said he would “take every measure” to protect lives, adding that all non-resident foreign nationals would be banned from entering Japan until the emergency measures were lifted. Japan had previously permitted business travellers from 11 Asian countries where case numbers appeared to be under control.
13th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Meagre lockdown food parcels for English school children provoke outcry

Shared images of meagre food packages supplied to children by schools during England’s COVID-19 lockdown prompted an outcry on Tuesday and led the government to warn private suppliers to raise their standards. With England in lockdown to try to control a surge in coronavirus cases, the government has asked schools to provide free lunches for eligible children stuck at home. However, images shared online of some of the food parcels were criticized by politicians, celebrities and the public, who questioned whether they contained enough food and nutrition for the number of meals they were supposed to cover. The outcry began when one Twitter user posted a parcel she said was expected to last 10 days of lunches containing: a loaf of bread, two potatoes, two carrots, three apples, a tomato, some dried pasta, bananas, cheese, beans and other small snack
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

How book clubs, virtual choirs and gardening are helping people across UK embrace lockdown

People across the UK are finding imaginative ways to embrace life under lockdown by turning to online book clubs, cooking, gardening and virtual choirs to stay active, healthy and maintain social bonds. While tough restrictions imposed across the country are vital to slow the spread of coronavirus, they have also contributed to an increase in those reporting feeling bored, lonely or isolated. But there are many ways people can make the most of their time spent at home while playing their part to beat the pandemic. Every Mind Matters can get you started with a free NHS online plan, showing you simple steps to help manage anxiety, sleep better, and boost your mood.
13th Jan 2021 - The Independent

German COVID-19 study finds concert halls are safe ‘at half capacity’

A German concert hall commissioned a study which found that – with the correct ventilation system – arts venues are theoretically ‘covid-safe’ at half audience capacity. Concert hall closures have been a heavy blow for musicians in Germany, the UK and in all countries shaken by the coronavirus pandemic. And while there has been government aid, it has rarely been enough to offset lost income from cancelled gigs. In the wake of ongoing closures in its region, in north Germany, the Dortmund Concert Hall decided to commission a study from scientific research organisation, the Fraunhofer Society, to investigate the spatial spread of aerosols and CO2 in a music venue. The study looks specifically at the risk of infection for audience members when attending concert halls and theatres.
12th Jan 2021 - Classic FM

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Google Launches $3 Million Fund To Tackle Covid-19 Vaccine Misinformation

Amid an ongoing effort by Google to counter the deluge of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic, the tech giant said Tuesday it will devote up to $3 million to back fact-checking initiatives to counter vaccine misinformation, which it says has emerged as a particularly troubling phenomenon as global immunization efforts get underway.
12th Jan 2021 - Forbes

Pope Francis will receive Covid-19 jab this week and declares 'without a vaccine you are playing with life'

Pope Francis will receive his Covid-19 vaccine this week, days after his personal doctor died from complications with the virus. The pontiff said it was an 'ethical duty' for everyone to get inoculated as Vatican City prepares for its rollout of the jabs. He told Italian news outlet TG5: 'Everyone should get the vaccine. Without a vaccine, you are playing with health, life, but also with the health of others.'
12th Jan 2021 - MSN.com

COVID-19: 'Stubborn number' of people still refusing to follow coronavirus rules

A "stubborn number" of people are still refusing to follow the rules despite England entering a third coronavirus lockdown, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council has said. Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Martin Hewitt said forces across the UK have issued almost 45,000 fines for breaches of COVID-19 rules. Appearing alongside him was Home Secretary Priti Patel, who insisted the current restrictions were "very simple and clear" as well as being "tough enough".
12th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Sir David Attenborough receives Covid-19 vaccine

Sir David Attenborough has become the latest well-known name to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, his representative has confirmed. The news about the 94-year-old natural historian comes a few days after it was revealed the Queen had been vaccinated. It's not known which vaccine Sir David has been given or exactly when he had it. The Perfect Planet host is one of several stars to receive the first of two doses of the vaccine. They include The Great British Bake Off's Prue Leith, actor Sir Ian McKellen, choreographer Lionel Blair, actor Brian Blessed and actress Dame Joan Collins.
12th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Third Democrat tests positive for COVID after riot lockdown

Democrats have proposed a $1,000 a day fine on lawmakers who refuse to wear masks while in the Capitol complex. Rep. Debbie Dingell is leading the charge on the issue and blasted Republicans for 'laughing off' requests to wear one. Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider became the third lawmaker to test positive for COVID after being in lockdown with lawmakers last week. About 100 lawmakers were huddled in a poorly-ventilated room together during the MAGA riot on the Capitol with many Republicans refusing to wearing masks. He slammed Republicans: 'I was forced to spend several hours in a secure but confined location with dozens of other Members of Congress,' he said. 'Several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask' He is isolating at home in Illinois and not yet showing symptoms. Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, 55, also tested positive for COVID-19. And Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, 75, announced earlier on Monday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus and was suffering mild symptoms. Both Jayapal and Coleman blame their infections on being trapped with Republicans who refused to wear face masks Jayapal says she believes it will turn out to be a 'superspreader event'
12th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Analysis: Boris's Sunday spin away from No 10 undermines UK Govt's tough lockdown message

Chris Whitty, the UK Government’s chief medical brain, spent hours on the morning media shift urging people to “double down” on complying with the Covid-19 restrictions, Boris Johnson told people to "do the right thing" and stick to the rules.
12th Jan 2021 - heraldscotland.com

Lockdown adds to suffering of vulnerable Lebanese: charity

A total lockdown set to start this week will exacerbate the suffering of vulnerable Lebanese families struggling to make ends meet unless the government offers assistance, a charity has warned. “We recognise the importance of taking thorough measures... but we are very concerned that vulnerable families and their children will be left to deal with a catastrophe on their own," Jennifer Moorehead, Save the Children’s Lebanon director, said late Monday. Lebanon, a country of more than six million, is grappling with its worst economic downturn since the 1975-1990 war.
12th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Coronavirus: Wetherspoon pub chain to remove lockdown-sceptic posters

The Wetherspoon pub chain says it will remove lockdown-sceptical posters from its venues as coronavirus continues to spread in parts of England. Last month bosses made pages from their company magazine, Wetherspoon News, available to download and put in pub windows. It was part of a campaign by chairman Tim Martin against government restrictions, which he said were “messing up the economy and also the health of the nation”. One of the flyers was pictured still visible in some pub windows this month. It reproduces a news story from 20 November last year, which cast doubt on the dire warnings of government scientists about the threat posed by the second Covid-19 wave.
12th Jan 2021 - The Independent

New Austrian COVID cluster: mainly British group on ski teacher course

Austria said on Tuesday it has identified a new cluster of 17 COVID-19 cases, a mainly British group on a ski teacher training course, despite the country being on lockdown and having banned flights from Britain over fears of a new coronavirus variant. The Alpine province of Tyrol, which suffered Austria’s worst outbreak to date at the ski resort of Ischgl, said the cluster in the town of Jochberg was suspected to be of the new, more infectious variant first pinpointed in Britain in September that has spread to dozens of countries including Austria. The fact such a training course was allowed to happen despite lockdown restrictions, which include closing schools to all but daycare, stunned many Austrians.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Toys How to keep your kids entertained at home during lockdown

As soon as the schools closed for the latest lockdown there was a huge focus on homeschooling and the various ways parents can help prevent their children falling behind academically. Yet little has been said about the fact there are entire weekends and evenings where you’ll need to find ways to keep your kids entertained when the usual soft plays, swimming pools, zoos, craft centres and other go-tos are closed. Having downtime, and being given time to relax and play, is vitally important. If the very thought of all of this is giving you cold sweats, we’ve compiled a list of fun activities for all ages, capabilities and budgets to inspire you to get your children playing and chilling.
12th Jan 2021 - Wired UK

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Which US demographics are more likely to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine?

A new survey indicates that over 31% of individuals queried had no intention of getting vaccinated against infection with SARS-CoV-2. According to the same source, the groups most likely to reject a COVID-19 vaccine are Black people, women, and those with conservative political leanings. The researchers who led the survey emphasize that policymakers must find better ways of communicating with and reassuring the public about the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
11th Jan 2021 - Medical News Today

Largest UK student accomodation provider gives 50% off rent for lockdown

The UK’s largest student accommodation provider has offered a 50 per cent rent discount in light of the new lockdown. It comes after students were told to remain where they were - while many were still at family homes for the Christmas break - until at least mid-February,
11th Jan 2021 - The Independent

In the first lockdown, England proved it could end homelessness. Why not now?

Halfway through a walk early last summer, I noticed a change around Peckham Rye train station in south-east London. Before the pandemic, there had been a semi-permanent cluster of men and women who would sleep by the entrance. Their makeshift shelters had become increasingly elaborate over the years. Mattresses, duvets and the occasional tent were common enough sights, a damning indictment of the UK’s spiralling homelessness crisis. But I couldn’t see any trace of them that afternoon. A few months had passed since the implementation in March of Everyone In, the scheme to temporarily house rough sleepers in self-contained accommodation during the first wave of the pandemic, including in newly deserted hotels and hostels. The homelessness charity Crisis called it extraordinary, while others lined up to congratulate the government on its unusually bold course of action to shelter thousands of society’s most vulnerable people.An article in the Lancet estimated that the measures prevented more than 21,000 infections and 266 deaths. Simply put, Everyone In saved lives.
11th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19 pandemic puts Barcelona urban greening plan in the fast lane

One of Barcelona’s largest parks, named after Spanish painter Joan Miro, is just a stone’s throw from the busy crossroads between Consell de Cent and Rocafort streets, but here you could be mistaken for thinking nature is a million miles away. That could be about to change under an ambitious new 10-year plan, unveiled by Barcelona City Hall in November, aimed at drastically cutting traffic and expanding green spaces in the central district of Eixample. The 38 million-euro ($46.5-million) plan aims to turn one in three streets in the densely populated residential and commercial area into green zones. It responds to longstanding problems of air pollution and cramped living conditions in the Spanish region of Catalonia’s main city, brought to the fore by COVID-19, said Janet Sanz, Barcelona’s deputy mayor for ecology, urban planning and mobility. Lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 made urban residents realise how important nature is to them personally and to their wider communities, said Josep M. Pages, secretary general of the Belgium-based European Nurserystock Association
11th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Lockdown protests erupt in Europe cities

The coronavirus is wreaking havoc across Europe but in some cities some people are fighting the stay-at-home message. Thousands turned out in central Prague on Sunday to protest against recently extended restrictions designed to contain the coronavirus. Footage of the demonstration in Prague showed many protesters not wearing masks and standing close to one other. A day earlier in Denmark, protesters became violent and lit fireworks as police arrested nine people in the capital Copenhagen and northern city Aarhus. The demonstrators, who call themselves 'Men in Black', gathered at the town hall square in Copenhagen and clashed with police in the wintry conditions. Denmark and Czech Republic are among the nations to extend lockdown measures in the fight against soaring COVID-19 infections and a new, more infectious variant.
11th Jan 2021 - The West Australian

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Joe Wicks: How to watch PE lessons during lockdown

Joe Wicks is relaunching his live "PE lessons" on Monday as the UK enters the second week of another national lockdown. The fitness coach and author, also known as The Body Coach, created the weekly online exercise sessions in March when the UK went into lockdown for the first time as a way of keeping children fit while schools were closed. The workouts were hugely popular, with one having helped Wicks achieve a Guinness World Record as nearly a million people tuned in live to watch. Wicks also used the popularity of classes as an opportunity to raise money for the NHS, with £580,000 donated through his online workouts.
10th Jan 2021 - The Independent

COVID-19: Ad campaign launched with plea to public as fears grow over lockdown compliance

A new public awareness campaign has been launched, urging people to "stay at home" in an attempt to encourage the public to comply with lockdown rules. It comes amid growing fears that people have not been observing social distancing rules, as case numbers surge, hospitals become swamped and deaths continue to rise. On Friday, a record 68,053 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the UK and one in 50 people in England are now thought to have coronavirus, according to the Office for National Statistics.
9th Jan 2021 - Sky News

COVID-19 lockdown fines reviewed in Derbyshire after women 'treated like criminals' over country walk

A police force is to review its lockdown fines after being criticised by two women who "thought someone had been murdered" due to the "heavy-handed" response to what they thought was a legal walk. Jessica Allen told Sky News she and her friend Eliza Moore travelled in separate cars to make the five-mile journey from their home town in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, to Foremark Reservoir, just across the county border in Derbyshire, on Wednesday.
9th Jan 2021 - Sky News

COVID-19: Lockdown mobility data shows people have become accustomed to bending the rules

Transport app Citymapper tracks how many people plan journeys in London, Manchester, and Birmingham. It doesn't track car trips but it captures everything else. According to its data, journeys during the first lockdown fell to less than 10% of pre-pandemic levels, and stayed that way for days. This time round however, things are slightly different. Movement has fallen since the lockdown was announced, but it isn't down to the levels of March and April. Instead, mobility fell to a little under 20% of pre-pandemic levels.
9th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Car owners told not to miss MOT despite Covid lockdown

Car owners in the UK have been told to make sure they do not miss their MOT, even if they are not currently able to use their vehicle. During the first national coronavirus lockdown in 2020, the need for the annual checks was put on hold and drivers whose certificates were due to expire before 31 July were given a six-month extension. However, the government has declared that MOT and servicing centres are an essential service and remain open for business during the current lockdown. Its guidance explains that tests should be booked as usual, but those who are isolating, shielding or have Covid-19 symptoms must not travel to an MOT centre. There are separate procedures for Northern Ireland.
9th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

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More than 1000 Swindon residents volunteer for coronavirus vaccine studies

The rollout of the coronavirus vaccine is under way across the UK, giving hope for a way out of the crisis which changed our lives nearly a year ago. But developing a vaccine wouldn't have been possible without a pool of volunteers from across the four nations, with more than 1,000 people from Swindon putting their name forward to be a part of the effort. Researchers need people to take part in studies to find out which potential vaccine is most effective, and those involved are required to visit a hospital or research site every few months.
8th Jan 2021 - Swindon Advertiser

Trust in COVID-19 vaccine grows after months of decline, polls show

Confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine is growing, a USA TODAY analysis of dozens of polls and scientific papers shows. Surveys in recent weeks show close to 60% of respondents saying they’d get the COVID-19 vaccine, up from a low of 1 in 2 Americans polled in September. A Pew Research Center survey of 12,648 Americans in late November showed 60% said they’d get the vaccine if it were available today, up from 51% polled in September. The Kaiser Family Foundation noted a similar increase, with 71% of the 1,676 surveyed indicating they’d accept a COVID-19 vaccine, up from 63% in September. USA TODAY's analysis drew on methods used by Duke University and Florida State University researchers and by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to summarize vaccine polling.
7th Jan 2021 - The Arizona Republic

Increased socializing may have jeopardized lockdown benefit in England

Researchers in the UK report that much of the potential beneficial impact of the November 2020 English National lockdown on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic was likely undermined in many areas due to increased socializing in the days running up to its implementation. They say that information leaked about the intended lockdown five days prior to its implementation led to increased socializing in areas that had been categorized as Tier 1 and tier 2 as part of the country’s three-tier system.
7th Jan 2021 - News-Medical.Net

France Has Lockdown Lessons for Boris Johnson

Optimism about Covid-19 vaccines has quickly turned to pessimism about how slowly they’re being rolled out — and the grim realization that stay-at-home restrictions will be with us for longer as a result. This is being felt acutely in Europe, where Brits are now in their third national lockdown, barely a month after the second one ended. Ireland has also reintroduced tougher curbs. Both countries have seen cases and hospitalizations pile up this winter.
7th Jan 2021 - Washington Post

Hang in there, Australia—we're in great shape, but we're only halfway through the COVID marathon

In the midst of the anxiety over the latest outbreaks in NSW and Victoria, it is easy to forget the wider context of Australia's privileged COVID position. Relative to most Western countries, some of which are losing someone to COVID every 60 seconds, we live in a largely COVID-free oasis. This puts us in an incredibly good position to carefully exit from the COVID crisis and manage a steady return to nationwide normality, without the suffering seen in other nations. But we have 12 months or so to go.
7th Jan 2021 - Medical Xpress

Nation of small-business owners adapts to England lockdown No 3

A year ago, yoga teacher Brenda Ward would have been dashing between hotels, gyms and schools to deliver her classes but as England entered a third national lockdown, she stepped into her living room and greeted students by video call. Having switched all her yoga and wellbeing classes online, the 53-year-old has joined a host of small-business owners finding ways to adapt and thrive despite lockdowns that have upended high streets and downed economic activity. “I’m probably busier (than before the pandemic),” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from her home-turned-studio in northwest England.
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus Northern Ireland: We may never return to normality despite success of vaccine, warns Professor Young

After almost a year living under the shadow of a pandemic, the approval of two Covid-19 vaccines finally brought some hope to a world weary of coronavirus. There isn't a part of our lives that hasn't been affected by Covid-19 - schools are closed for the third time, life-saving operations are being cancelled, the business community is on its knees, even the simple act of giving a loved one a hug is no longer acceptable. Throughout everything that Covid-19 has thrown at us, we've held on to the day when a vaccine would be rolled out and lives could finally return to normal.
7th Jan 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

Some Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem Palestinians wary of coronavirus vaccine

As Israel leads the world in the rate of coronavirus vaccination, some of its Arab citizens and Palestinians in annexed East Jerusalem are regarding the shot with suspicion. In what officials see as a result of misinformation about possible side effects or supposed malicious properties, turnout for vaccines has been low among Arabs, who make up 21% of Israel’s population, and Jerusalem Palestinians. “I will not be vaccinated because I don’t know what is in there. No one explained it to me,” said Marouf Alyino of East Jerusalem. “Everyone is looking at Facebook and social media, where we hear about someone dying (after getting vaccinated).”
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Patients refusing Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to 'wait for English jab', doctor claims

People are reportedly delaying getting the potentially life-saving jab as the UK hit the highest number of coronavirus deaths today since the first wave in April
7th Jan 2021 - The Mirror

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Mafia on the hunt for coronavirus vaccines, say Italian police

The mafia will be trying to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, Italian police have warned. Giving vaccines to millions of people is proving problematic for most governments and now law enforcement authorities are bracing for an additional challenge — criminals targeting vaccine distribution. “Their interest in vaccines is due to the high demand and the low initial supply,” the Italian police body monitoring mafia infiltration of the economy said in an internal report, extracts of which were released on Wednesday.
6th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Retreat of the UK coronavirus lockdown skeptics

What a difference a month (and a new strain of coronavirus) makes. The last time MPs held a major vote on coronavirus measures, on December 1, it prompted the biggest rebellion of Boris Johnson’s premiership with 55 of his backbenchers voting against new restrictions. When the House of Commons is asked to vote on the new national lockdown on Wednesday, any such backlash among the lockdown-skeptic wing of Johnson’s party is likely to be much smaller, several MPs predicted, with a number of former rebels saying they would now back the government.
6th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Life after lockdown: New Zealand creatives on navigating a post-Covid world

In a year that mostly felt devoid of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel emerged from a surprising source: the bottom of the world. Long-since illuminated for its history-making politics, 2020 saw New Zealand burn even brighter on the global stage for all but eliminating coronavirus (twice) with remarkable efficiency — announcing 95 percent probability of zero local transmissions — as other first-world nations confronted yet another surge. Perhaps it was the country’s dispersed population, borderless isolation or high governmental trust index, but once again a small island nation just North of Antarctica (and often confused with Australia) had set an undeniable precedent.
6th Jan 2021 - VICE

Britain's Asda urges lockdown shoppers not to stockpile

British supermarket group Asda on Wednesday urged its customers to shop considerately and not buy more than they normally would after new COVID-19 lockdowns were introduced across the United Kingdom to stem the spread of the virus. Under the new rules in England, schools are closed to most pupils, people should work from home if possible, and all hospitality and non-essential shops are closed. Semi-autonomous executives in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have imposed similar measures. With the hospitality sector shut, there is pressure on supermarkets to meet demand. December trade hit record levels.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters

'No law can order us': Greek Christians defy COVID ban on Epiphany services

Greek Christian churches held Epiphany services on Wednesday, openly defying government coronavirus restrictions that banned public gatherings including religious ceremonies on one of the most important days of the Orthodox calendar. Despite a plea by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for Church authorities to set an example during a crisis that has killed more than 5,000 in Greece, worshippers attended morning services, although limits were placed on the number allowed into churches at one time. “State orders are one thing and faith is another,” said a 38-year-old worshipper who gave her name as Stavroula, after attending morning service at a church in the outskirts of Athens. “No law can order us what to do.”
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

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Column: Will we still commute after the epidemic? - John Kemp

In the advanced economies, the coronavirus epidemic is likely to accelerate long-term structural changes in the location of work and accommodation and the transport systems that link them. But the rate of change will be tempered by enormous inertia in real estate and transit systems to accommodate a widespread shift in work from central cities to the suburbs and secondary cities. The current distribution of land use is the product of the railways in the 19th century and the automobile in the 20th century, which allowed people to travel much greater distances from home to the workplace. While many executives and professionals can afford to live in central areas of large cities if they want to take advantage of networking opportunities and cultural facilities, most workers are forced to live in suburbs and satellite communities where housing is cheaper.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

US pharmacist 'tried to ruin Covid vaccine' because of safety fears, court told

Steven Brandenburg was detained following an investigation into spoiled vials of the Moderna jab, which would have inoculated 500 people. A US pharmacist convinced the world was “crashing down” told police he tried to ruin hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine because he believed the shots would mutate people’s DNA. Court documents from Wisconsin showed pharmacist Steven Brandenburg was detained following an investigation into the 57 spoiled vials of the Moderna vaccine, which officials say contained enough doses to inoculate more than 500 people.
5th Jan 2021 - Wales Online

Covid-19: England lockdown looms as hospital ejects 'Covid deniers'

A group of Covid-19 "deniers" were removed from a hospital by security guards after going there to take pictures of empty corridors to post on social media to back up their claims that there is no crisis, according to its chief executive. Describing the incident at Colchester Hospital, where the intensive care unit is running at maximum capacity because of the virus, Nick Hulme said it "beggars belief" some people were calling the pandemic a hoax. "Of course there are empty corridors at the weekend in outpatients, because that's the right thing to do," he added.
5th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Covid: Can we really jab our way out of lockdown?

With the country in lockdown and a new faster-spreading variant of coronavirus rampant, it's clear the UK is in a race to vaccinate. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants all the over-70s, the most clinically vulnerable and front-line health and care workers to be offered a jab by mid-February, to allow the restrictions to be eased. That requires about 13 million people to be given the opportunity to be vaccinated - but so far only one million have been. And ensuring a quick rollout to the rest is fraught with difficulties. There is enough vaccine in the country, BBC News has learned, but getting it into people's arms could be hampered by: a global shortage of glass vials to package up the vaccines long waits for safety checks the process of ensuring there are enough vaccinators
5th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Watching New Zealand's Covid success from bungling Britain has been torture

Like most Britons this past year, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit doomscrolling social media. But in between the muted festive lockdown celebrations, I also saw photos of crowded house parties, family barbecues and road trips to baches and beaches. My social feeds have split into alternate realities. Because although I’m a British citizen living in Oxford, I’m also a resident of New Zealand, where things really couldn’t be more different. As a resident of two countries, with friends and family in each, I’m used to witnessing events and political developments in both places at once. Usually this experience is a rewarding one where new ideas and cultural differences cross-pollinate in my brain and expand the way I see the world. But in 2020 it’s been an exercise in frustration. The torture of watching how one country has handed the Covid pandemic so well, while living in another that has bungled it so badly, has been one of the defining characteristics of my past year.
5th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

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Cambodia reopens schools and museums as others lock down

Cambodia has started reopening schools and museums as it relaxes a six-week lockdown following a coronavirus outbreak late last year, marking a contrast with some neighbouring countries that are facing new restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases. The Southeast Asian country of just over 16 million people, one of the least impacted by the novel coronavirus with just 382 infections and no deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, saw a rare cluster of cases in November. On Monday, students wearing masks lined up for temperature checks and hand washing before being allowed to enter the Sovannaphumi primary school in the capital Phnom Penh.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters

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The ‘Healthy Building’ Surge Will Outlast the Pandemic

Over the past several months, the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a surge of interest in the role that indoor environments—where we spend 90 percent of our time, even in a normal year—play in our health. Suddenly, developers and CEOs are realizing that incorporating health concerns in a building’s design isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. “People are really thinking about, ‘Are these spaces safe? Are they healthy? How could I improve them?’” says Rick Cook, a founding partner of the New York-based architectural firm COOKFOX. Cook and other architects have been working with the International WELL Building Institute, an organization that’s developing standards for healthy buildings. Since the pandemic, the Institute has been registering more than a million square feet of real estate a day in its certification program, putting buildings on the path to wellness
15th Dec 2020 - Wired

Yorkshire theatres reflect on a tough year - but the show must go on in 2021

It has been a tough year for our theatres but, as Nick Ahad reports, the energy and verve with which they have reacted, plus the public’s support, gives hope for the future.
31st Dec 2020 - The Yorkshire Post

Vaccine passports, travel bubbles, pricey flights: the future of Asian tourism?

The coronavirus has changed the industry, forcing companies and countries alike to pivot from their existing models in a region where tourism is a huge economic driver. But catering to local travellers cannot fully make up for the downturn, experts say, while changing appetites and abundant concerns mean the future is anything but certain
2nd Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

UK public transport downturn to continue after pandemic ends

Over half of public transport users in the UK say they will continue to avoid buses and trains after the pandemic is over in favour of cycling or walking, a study of consumer spending reveals. The Co-op’s annual ethical consumerism report, which has monitored ethical spending habits for over 20 years, this year singles out public transport as “the biggest loser” of changed spending priorities due to Covid-19, with users reluctant to jump back onto buses and trains because of the threat to their personal space. In other sectors, the study found that the “stay at or near home” culture which has led to a boom in online shopping and home deliveries is likely to stay, with 58% of shoppers determined to continue to support their local high street.
2nd Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Pope criticises people going on holiday to flee COVID lockdowns

Pope Francis condemned on Sunday people who had gone abroad on holiday to escape coronavirus lockdowns, saying they needed to show greater awareness of the suffering of others. Speaking after his weekly noon blessing, Francis said he had read newspaper reports of people catching flights to flee government curbs and seek fun elsewhere. “They didn’t think about those who were staying at home, of the economic problems of many people who have been hit hard by the lockdown, of the sick people. (They thought) only about going on holiday and having fun,” the pope said. “This really saddened me,” he said in a video address
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

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French Retailers Seek Aid as Sales Fail to Recover From Lockdown

French retailers called for government support after sales failed to rebound fully from a second lockdown, suggesting measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic are changing consumer patterns. Despite a good pick-up in spending thanks to Black Friday discounts and year-end purchases, many clothing, shoe, jewelry, beauty-product and perfume retailers face a drop in revenue of more than 20% in 2020, the French Council of Commerce, a group of about 30 business federations, said in a statement on Monday. “Many shopkeepers could decide to put up the shutters for good to avoid racking up further losses and dragging out an insurmountable economic situation,” said William Koeberle, chairman of the trade group.
29th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

China Covid-19: How state media and censorship took on coronavirus

At the start of the year the Chinese government faced two major challenges; an unknown disease which threatened to tear through its population and a wave of voices online telling the world what was happening. By the end of 2020, a glance at Chinese state-controlled media shows that both appear to be under control. The BBC's Kerry Allen and Zhaoyin Feng take a look back at the country's online government censors who worked harder than ever to supress negative information, the citizens that managed to break through the Great Firewall, and how the propaganda machine re-wrote the narrative.
29th Dec 2020 - BBC News

Australia could deport hundreds of Brits after ‘super-spreader’ party

Hundreds of backpackers risk being stripped of their visas and deported from Australia after a huge party was thrown on a beach on Christmas Day. Shocking footage from Sydney shows around 300 people, many believed to be British travellers, chanting next to Bronte Beach wearing Santa hats and what appear to be England football shirts. Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke said he was ‘shocked’ and would be ‘very happy’ to deport those caught disobeying public health orders in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. ‘Absolutely, under the migration act, if someone is threatening public safety or health, their visa can be cancelled and revoked,’ Mr Hawke said on 2GB this morning.
29th Dec 2020 - Metro

Lockdown library: Meet the woman closing the literacy gap from her garden

A woman in Manchester is helping to close the literacy gap by starting a library at the bottom of her garden. Helen Beesley from Burnage began the project with just one box of books, stashed in an old cupboard in the bottom of her garden. Anyone was welcome to help themselves and read for free. The idea came from the Little Free Library movement - which started in the USA but has now spread across the globe. The aim is to improve literacy and share a love of reading.
29th Dec 2020 - ITV News

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Pre-K teacher goes viral after sharing virtual-classroom dance parties: ‘It’s about bringing that joy factor’

There’s been no shortage of praiseworthy teachers throughout the pandemic, and among them is a pre-K teacher who went viral this week after sharing footage of his virtual classroom’s dance sessions — a unique “joy factor” strategy that he uses to keep students engaged. Azel Prather has been teaching early childhood education for the last five years and has spent the last two at the KIPP DC Arts & Technology Academy, a public charter school. “I want them to learn and they want to have fun, so let me meet them where they're at,” he says regarding his innovative classroom dance breaks.
28th Dec 2020 - Yahoo Canada

Elite Boarding Schools Offer Students a Unique Covid-19 Bubble

Many high schools are struggling with whether to allow students to learn in the classroom as Covid-19 infections surge across the U.S. But not the nation’s boarding schools. These schools have been mostly able to offer in-person learning with relatively few incidents, using a variety of intensive virus-mitigation strategies, according to Peter Upham, executive director of The Association of Boarding Schools. About a third of the nation’s more than 260 academic boarding schools have had Covid-19 cases, Upham said, but very few schools have seen outbreaks of more than just a couple students.
28th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

The perverse political effects of Covid-19

The PRC’s success in largely suppressing the disease stands in marked contrast with the terrible toll that Covid-19 has taken on the west. But politics moves in unexpected ways. Paradoxically, there is a strong case to be made that both the US and the EU may also end up being politically strengthened by Covid-19.
28th Dec 2020 - The Financial Times

Ukrainians flock to local ski resort, with many European resorts shut to curb coronavirus spread

Ukraine’s biggest ski resort Bukovel in the Carpathian mountains is fully booked until the end of year as Ukrainians have sped to it instead of other foreign resorts that have been shut due to coronavirus-linked restrictions across Europe. Bukovel’s management said the resort had already been booked at 80% capacity through January. Unlike some European countries, Ukraine did not tighten restrictions on the movement of its residents within the country to curb the spread of the coronavirus over the Christmas and New Year season.
28th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Sydney told to watch its famous New Year's Eve fireworks from home

Sydney, one of the world’s first major cities to welcome each New Year with a public countdown featuring a fireworks display over its well-known Opera House, has banned large gatherings that night amid an outbreak of the coronavirus. A mid-December resurgence of COVID-19 in the city’s northern beach suburbs has grown to 125 cases after five new infections were recorded on Monday. About a quarter of million of people there must stay in strict lockdown until Jan. 9. That has led to further restrictions of the already toned-down plans for the New Year’s Eve. New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian banned most people from coming to Sydney’s downtown that night and limited outdoor gatherings to 50 people.
28th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Scarred by 2020, Gen Z looks to a COVID-free future

Lives that had been focussed on school, university, sports or even going to K-pop concerts vanished overnight for members of Gen Z as the global pandemic struck. While a lot was heard about older people at risk from COVID-19, this younger generation - born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s - also saw their worlds turned upside down in 2020. Reuters profiled 10 young people around the world to learn how their lives had been affected by the coronavirus. Shut up in bedrooms - many forced to live with their parents - some went from being students, athletes and workers to caring for sick relatives and doing whatever they could to earn money to support families. One teen even became a mother
27th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Cramped housing has helped fuel spread of Covid in England – study

Overcrowded housing has helped to spread Covid-19 in England and may have increased the number of deaths, according to research by the Health Foundation. People living in cramped conditions have been more exposed to the coronavirus and were less able to reduce their risk of infection because their homes were so small, the thinktank found. Overcrowding was a key reason why poorer people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds in particular had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, it said.
27th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Old and vulnerable people 'aren't getting their Covid jabs' with spare vaccines offered to healthy volunteers

Concerns are growing that some older and vulnerable people are not taking up the Pfizer vaccine. At one health centre in South London, The Mail on Sunday has learned that 75 doses of the vaccine were left over as uptake had been so low. Managers were left scrambling to find other patients to vaccinate and even offered a jab to healthy volunteers working there. Experts suggested that elderly people may be struggling with transport or are nervous about venturing outdoors.
26th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Wealthy Britons 'offering private doctors £2,000 to jump Covid vaccine queue and get jabs early'

Rich people are offering huge sums of money to skip the queue for the coronavirus vaccines. The jabs can currently only be obtained through the NHS, but several private British doctors say they have been bombarded with requests from wealthy individuals offering to pay to have theirs ahead of time. Dr Roshan Ravindran, owner of Klnik, a private clinic in Wilmslow, Cheshire, claimed some clients had offered £2,000 for injections.
26th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

In Christmas message curbed by Covid, pope calls on nations to share vaccines

Pope Francis in his Christmas message on Friday said political and business leaders must not allow market forces and patent laws to take priority over making Covid 19 vaccines available to all, condemning nationalism and “the virus of radical individualism”.
25th Dec 2020 - Reuters

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Inside Oxford's coronavirus vaccine development | Art and design

From a small discovery to producing at scale, photojournalist David Levene documents the groundbreaking work of the scientists of Oxford University during the development of a vaccine which is now poised for approval by medicines regulators
21st Dec 2020 - The Guardian

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Rich Americans are trying to cut the line for Covid vaccine, doctors say

Rich Americans in California are offering to buy their way to the front of the coronavirus vaccine line as the state continues to see a surge in infections and deaths, reports have said. Speaking to CNN, a number of concierge doctors in the area say have received a number of requests for early access to the new vaccine in return for premium payments or donations. Dr Jeff Toll, whose boutique internal medicine practice has admitting privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said his high-profile clients have offered large sums in turn for prioritisation. The doctor told outlets that one of his clientele, which includes chief executives and entertainment figures, offered to donate $25,000 to the hospital for early access to the shot.
19th Dec 2020 - The Independent

Postcards from Wuhan: One year on, residents share lockdown memories, hopes for 2021

In China’s Wuhan, the original epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, the city’s residents are returning to normal life, even as they continue to grapple with memories of the early outbreak, which struck fear in the city. It’s been almost seven months since the city recorded a locally transmitted case of the disease due to a strict city-wide lockdown and a mass testing event of almost all the city’s 11 million residents. Today, restaurants, shopping streets and bars are crowded, but locals are still experiencing the lasting impact of the lockdown on mental health and work.
20th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Could Beyoncé do for the coronavirus vaccine what Elvis did for polio?

Beyoncé could help, it's been suggested, as could Tom Hanks or The Rock. Or maybe an athlete instead. Serena Williams, perhaps, or even Michael Jordan? As millions of Americans continue to express reluctance or outright refusal to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the country's political and public-health leaders are pondering a question critical to ending the pandemic: Who can change their minds? When the federal government faced a similar dilemma more than a half-century ago, it had a king at its disposal.
19th Dec 2020 - The Independent

New COVAX agreements renew vaccine hopes for developing countries

Global health officials have feared that richer nations could snap up much of the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and since the early days of the pandemic, the WHO and its partners, including the GAVI vaccine alliance, have been pushing forward with COVAX, a plan to support the development of new vaccines and secure doses for participating countries. Experts have maintained that beating back the virus in all parts of the world, especially with vaccine, is a key step in ending the pandemic threat, but there are deep worries that a wide funding gap will cause a lengthy delay in the first vaccine deliveries for developing nations. In its announcement, the WHO said COVAX now has agreements in place to access nearly 2 billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates.
18th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP

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How France is confronting its big anti-vaxx problem

As it emerges from its second Covid lockdown, France is preparing to roll out one of the biggest vaccination campaigns in its history. The country has been badly battered by the pandemic, tallying 59,000 Covid deaths and 2.39 million cases so far, and the vaccine would finally offer a way out of the ordeal. Yet, Paris will now have to grapple with another alarming reality: France has become one of the most vaccine-sceptical countries in the world.
17th Dec 2020 - Wired.co.uk

New Zealand's 'go hard and early' Covid policy reaps economic rewards

New Zealand’s economy has accelerated out of a coronavirus induced recession to grow by a record 14 per cent in the third quarter, reflecting authorities’ adept handling of the pandemic. Figures published on Thursday showed a resurgence in household spending drove the country’s recovery. The easing of some of the world’s toughest social distancing restrictions prompted 11.1 per cent growth in service industries and 26 per cent growth in the goods producing sector. New Zealand’s statistics agency also revised the decline in gross domestic product in the June quarter to 11 per cent, from previous estimates of a 12.2 per cent contraction. However, the damage wrought by a nationwide lockdown remained evident in the annual growth figure, which shows economic activity fell 2.2 per cent in the year to the end of September.
17th Dec 2020 - Financial Times

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TikTok update targets Covid vaccine misinformation

TikTok is cracking down on Covid-19 vaccine misinformation through a suite of new changes aimed at protecting vulnerable users from harmful conspiracy theories. The video-sharing app will introduce a new tool to detect content relating to the Covid-19 vaccine as part of a series of updates being released later this month. From that date, any relevant videos will come with a banner message attached, stating: “Learn more about Covid-19 vaccines.” Coronavirus vaccinations developed by Pfizer and BioNTech began to be administered in the UK last week and have since begun in the US and other countries.
16th Dec 2020 - The Independent

Covid-19: BAME communities urged to accept vaccine

People from BAME backgrounds are being encouraged to accept a Covid-19 vaccine amid concerns that they are less likely to take it up. Thornbury district nurse Genevieve Palmer was given the jab at Kingswood Health Centre in Bristol on Tuesday. She asked communities to take the vaccine "to protect yourself, protect your family and protect everybody." A Royal Society for Public Health survey found that BAME groups were less likely to want the Covid vaccine.
16th Dec 2020 - BBC News

French culture takes centre stage in Covid protest

Hundreds of actors, theatre directors, musicians, film technicians and critics, and many others from the world of French culture gathered in the heart of Paris and other cities on Tuesday to protest against the government's shutdown of culture venues because of Covid-19. Cinemas, theatres, museums and concert halls had been set to reopen, but days in advance Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a change of heart in response to France's stubbornly high infection rate. No reopening will take place now until at least 7 January - a decision Mr Castex said was "particularly painful for us".
16th Dec 2020 - BBC News

Jacinda Arden on how New Zealand eliminated Covid-19: 'You just have to get on with it'

New Zealand this year pulled off a moonshot that remains the envy of most other nations - it eliminated the coronavirus. But the goal was driven as much by fear as it was ambition, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed in an interview with The Associated Press. Ms Ardern said the target grew from an early realisation the nation's health system simply could not cope with a big outbreak.
16th Dec 2020 - The Irish News

After experts criticized its approach, Facebook overhauls its Covid-19 misinformation policy

Facebook has overhauled its approach to harmful Covid-19 health misinformation, announcing major changes that would send a much stronger message to users who have interacted with harmful falsehoods about the virus. The decision on Tuesday comes after STAT reported in May on expert criticism of the social network’s handling of falsehoods about Covid-19 from the researchers whom Facebook said it had consulted to design the policy. Those experts told STAT that Facebook appeared to have misinterpreted the research and that the social media platform’s approach was unlikely to be effective.
16th Dec 2020 - STAT News

Unicef to feed hungry children in UK for first time in 70-year history

Unicef has launched a domestic emergency response in the UK for the first time in its more than 70-year history to help feed children hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The UN agency, which is responsible for providing humanitarian aid to children worldwide, said the coronavirus pandemic was the most urgent crisis affecting children since the second world war. A YouGov poll in May commissioned by the charity Food Foundation found 2.4 million children (17%) were living in food insecure households. By October, an extra 900,000 children had been registered for free school meals.
16th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

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Paris Opera singers go digital after COVID keeps theatres closed

Just five days before they were due to perform before a live audience for the first time in almost two months, the singers of the Paris Opera learned they could not re-open before January as France’s coronavirus cases remained stubbornly high. So they decided to film their performance of works by a young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and 18th century French composers Chevalier de Saint-Georges and Andre Gretry and offer it on a new video-on-demand portal launched last week by the Opera de Paris, which runs the Garnier and the Bastille opera venues. “Of course it is sad, but we’re very lucky to be able to film this concert, especially because some pieces of music that will be played have never been recorded”, said French soprano Pauline Texier.
15th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Many African, Asian families marry off daughters amid virus

The man first caught a glimpse of Marie Kamara as she ran with her friends past his house near the village primary school. Soon after, he proposed to the fifth-grader. “I’m going to school now. I don’t want to get married and stay in the house,” she told him. But the pressures of a global pandemic on this remote corner of Sierra Leone were greater than the wishes of a schoolgirl. Nearby mining operations had slowed with the global economy. Business fell off at her stepfather’s tailoring shop, where outfits he had sewn now gathered dust. The family needed money. Her suitor was a small-scale miner in his mid-20s, but his parents could provide rice for Marie’s four younger sisters and access to their watering hole. They could pay cash. Before long, Marie was seated on a floor mat in a new dress as his family presented hers with 500,000 leones ($50) inside a calabash bowl along with the traditional kola nut
15th Dec 2020 - The Associated Press

2.7 billion people did not get state aid during pandemic: Oxfam

The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures to contain it have hit millions of people hard, with poverty set to increase sharply in almost every country for the first time in decades unless action is taken now, according to a new report by Oxfam. Hundreds of millions of people have lost their jobs and income, and 2.7 billion people have not received any public financial support to deal with the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Oxfam said in the report published on Tuesday.
15th Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

BAME groups hit by Covid 'triple whammy', official UK study finds

Black and minority ethnic groups suffered a “triple whammy of threats” to their mental health, incomes and life expectancy that left them more vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic when it took hold earlier this year, according to the UK government’s official statistics body. Research from the Office for National Statistics into the wellbeing of different ethnic groups in the UK showed that 27% of people from black backgrounds reported in April finding it difficult to make financial ends meet, compared with fewer than 10% among most white groups.
14th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

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Queues form outside Milan food banks as crisis bites ahead of Christmas

Long queues have been forming outside food banks and help centres in Italy’s financial capital Milan as the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus has deepened before Christmas. s case numbers surged after the summer, Italy - the first European country to be struck by the pandemic and among the worst hit - has seen its stagnant economy dealt a blow by lockdowns to try to halt the spread of COVID-19. “During this period of the pandemic, the numbers have gone up,” said Luigi Rossi, vice-president of local aid group Pane Quotidiano, as a queue stretched down the block outside the centre in the south of Milan.
14th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid: How different ethnic groups have been affected by the pandemic

Most people in the UK have said they experienced a worsening of their mental health between 2019 and April 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS has analysed data from different ethnic groups in the UK just before the Covid-19 pandemic and in April this year, when the UK was in a full national lockdown. Data from the ONS reveals most ethnic groups have suffered in society in the past year - whether that is financially or mentally - through stress or lack of sleep and loneliness.
14th Dec 2020 - ITV News

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CNN to reveal the most inspiring moment of 2020

The two-hour special salutes everyday people who became bright spots during this challenging year -- frontline workers, advocates, scientists, teachers and neighbors -- by going above and beyond to help those in need and push for social justice. Among those being recognized: a) Covid-19 ICU nurse Shannon Basara endures untold stress at her job but benefited from the First Descents Hero Recharge program, which provides free adventures to frontline workers b) Scientist Mike Smith worked round the clock to develop a vaccine for Moderna. c) Dawn Baker, a volunteer vaccine tester and the first person in a Phase 3 clinical trial in the US d) Rahul Dubey sheltered 72 Black Lives Matter protesters overnight to prevent them from being arrested e) Tattoo artist Ryun King helped start the Cover the Hate campaign to cover hate tattoos for free f) Michelle Brenner earned the nickname of the "Lasagna Lady" by making and delivering thousands of free homemade lasagnas to anyone in her community g) Shelly Tygielski founded Pandemic of Love to match up people who need help with those who can provide it h) Desmond Meade, of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition worked to extend democracy in his home state by removing obstacles that prevented citizens with felony convictions from being able to vote i) DJ D-Nice brought his unique brand of joy to people in quarantine
13th Dec 2020 - CNN

Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine: Distribution, Side Effects and Everything You Need to Know

Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday to begin distributing their Covid-19 vaccine. As the shot goes into use across the U.S., here’s what we know and don’t know. Who is authorized to receive the vaccine? The FDA authorized the vaccine to be administered to people 16 and older to prevent Covid-19.
13th Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Germans deprived of mulled wine in Christmas lockdown

Germany’s tightened lockdown measures have eliminated one remnant of seasonal frivolity: “Gluehwein” or mulled wine, a staple of Christmas markets usually served in steaming mugs on cold days in town squares round the nation. A blanket outdoor alcohol ban, starting mid-week, was announced on Sunday among measures to curb the coronavirus second wave. Offenders will be fined.
13th Dec 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19 vaccine not advised for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

They say that “it has been advised that until more information is available those who are pregnant should not have this vaccine”. Their statement adds that “many vaccines can be given safely in pregnancy” but because of “the new formulation of this particular vaccine the MHRA wants to see more non-clinical data before finalising the advice in pregnancy”. It adds: “It is standard practice when waiting for such data on any medicine, to avoid its use in those who may become pregnant or who are breastfeeding. This will be kept under review as more evidence becomes available”. The document adds - “Here are the key points you should consider until we have more evidence:
13th Dec 2020 - The News Letter on MSN.com

Now that there’s a coronavirus vaccine, how do you persuade people to take it?

In Philadelphia, public health officials think block captains may be more effective than football stars in persuading people to get coronavirus vaccines. Researchers in the Navajo Nation anticipate that directives about the shots will have to be reworded to resonate with Native people. And in Atlanta, where a federally funded project has been working with community leaders to increase minority participation in clinical trials, physicians have a lesson to learn in how to talk to patients about vaccines. Memo to docs? More empathy. Less authority.
12th Dec 2020 - The Washington Post

The magnifying glass: how Covid revealed the truth about our world

The pandemic has illuminated deprivation, inequalities and political unrest, while reminding us of the power and beauty of nature and humanity
11th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

UK: Why do some ethnic minorities fear the coronavirus vaccine?

When 29-year-old Shabrez Ali from Bradford was a child, his mother was cautious about vaccines.“For the longest time, my mum didn’t want me to take jabs during primary and secondary school,” Ali, who has South Asian origins, told Al Jazeera by phone.He was not sure why, but guessed, “it may have been due to some potential conspiracies she might have heard in the past”. Since the UK went into its first coronavirus lockdown in March, Ali, who suffers from an autoimmune condition, has barely left the house. He had received a letter from the government urging him to “shield” because the immunosuppressant drugs he takes made him vulnerable.
8th Dec 2020 - Aljazeera.com

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This Was the Year When Everything Became TV

All of this further bonded us to TV and blurred the definition of the genre. To some extent, the pandemic accelerated changes that were already underway, be it the separation of movies from cinemas or the shift of recreational time to mobile devices. (We all drew the line at Quibi, though.) This wasn’t limited to entertainment. Thanks to FaceTime and texting and virtual spaces, our social lives were already growing more digital and mediated. I remember speaking on a panel at the Park Slope Food Co-op in late February (on the shopping floor, the panic-buying of beans and rice was just beginning), and the moderator worrying aloud about how much time young people today socialized on-screen, instead of having “real” physical interactions.
10th Dec 2020 - The New York Times

Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic

Early in the pandemic, Joo Park noticed a worrisome shift at the market he manages near downtown Washington: At least once a day, he’d spot someone slipping a package of meat, a bag of rice or other food into a shirt or under a jacket. Diapers, shampoo and laundry detergent began disappearing in bigger numbers, too. Since then, he said, thefts have more than doubled at Capitol Supermarket — even though he now stations more employees at the entrance, asks shoppers to leave backpacks up front and displays high-theft items like hand sanitizer and baking yeast in more conspicuous areas. Park doesn’t usually call the police, choosing instead to bar offenders from coming back.
10th Dec 2020 - The Washington Post

No, the COVID-19 Vaccine is not made from aborted babies…

You may have seen a story doing the rounds on social media about the new Covid-19 vaccine being made from the cells of aborted babies. Like most rumours on social media, it is just not true. A simple way to check if a story is true is to look it up on Snopes – the fact-checking site
10th Dec 2020 - Slugger O'Toole

Covid: 'How a picture of my foot became anti-vaccine propaganda'

Patricia is suffering from an unexplained skin condition - but a misunderstanding about what might have caused it set off a chain of events that turned her foot into fodder for anti-vaccine activists. The picture showed purple and red sores, swollen and oozing with pus. "Supposedly this is a [vaccine] trial participant," read the message alongside it. "Ready to roll up your sleeve?" Within a day, those same feet had been mentioned thousands of times on Instagram and Facebook. The picture went viral on Twitter as well.
10th Dec 2020 - BBC News

Scammers targeting elderly with promise of coronavirus vaccine

Scammers are trying to use the Covid-19 vaccine rollout to take elderly people’s money in one part of Wirral. Older residents in the New Ferry area are being targeted by con artists who ring them with an automated voice telling them they have been selected to receive the coronavirus vaccine and to press a number to arrange a booking. On its Facebook page, Wirral Council said elderly people with 0151 645 numbers were being targeted and scammers were calling them from the number 075374 00307. The authority’s post added: “This is a scam. Pressing the number will allow them to charge your phone company and take a sum of money from your account. Please warn elderly vulnerable residents to be on their guard to avoid being scammed.”
10th Dec 2020 - Liverpool Echo

Air pollution roars back in parts of UK, raising Covid fears

Air pollution in many towns and cities across the UK now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, exacerbating the risk of Covid-19 and putting the health of millions of people at risk. A study published on Thursday says that although air quality improved dramatically in the first half of the year as the country went into lockdown, pollution now meets or exceeds pre-Covid levels in 80% of the 49 cities and large towns that were analysed. There is growing evidence that exposure to toxic air increases the risks from Covid-19 and the authors of the study say their findings underscore the need for local councils to do more to reduce car use and improve air quality by prioritising walking and cycling.
10th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Pope's Midnight Mass to start early to respect COVID curfew

Pope Francis will celebrate Midnight Mass earlier than usual to comply with Italy’s anti-coronavirus curfew and will deliver his Christmas and New Year’s blessings in ways that aim to prevent crowds from forming. The Vatican on Thursday released the pope’s COVID-19 Christmas liturgical schedule. It said the pope’s Dec. 24 Mass — which for years hasn’t been celebrated at midnight at all but at 9:30 p.m. to spare pontiffs from the late hour — would begin at 7:30 p.m. this year. Italy has imposed a 10 p.m. nationwide curfew, as well as restaurant closures and other restrictions, to try to prevent crowds from forming following a surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths this fall.
10th Dec 2020 - Associated Press

Italians Will Be Frozen in Place This Christmas

If U.S. states’ lockdowns are too onerous for you, be thankful you’re not in Italy. In November Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte promised that “if we respect the rules, we’ll have a serene Christmas.” Italians largely complied but didn’t get their reward. Now Mr. Conte says it’ll be “a different Christmas, but not less authentic.” Covid-19 hit Italy early and hard. With more than 60,000 deaths and a case-fatality rate of 3.5% (compared with 1.95% in the U.S., 2.57% in Sweden and 2.4% in France), it is clearly a country where things went wrong. In the spring, when the epidemic was concentrated in the North, the country implemented the strictest lockdown in the Western world. It seemed to succeed, and Italians had an uneasy summer, with enclaves of normalcy. Some went to the beach; some hiked mountains; some even went clubbing. In October infections began to rise again.
10th Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

French to find out if virus surge will ruin Christmas holidays

With just two weeks to go until Christmas, French people were on Thursday nervously awaiting news by the Prime Minister on whether lockdown restrictions will be relaxed as planned. Failure to adequately stem the number of coronavirus cases has fuelled fears that Jean Castex will scupper end-of-year festivities at a press conference set for 6pm. Under plans laid out in November, cinemas and theatres are due to reopen on 15 December, with a night-time curfew replacing a nationwide lockdown – allowing people to travel to see loved ones over the holidays.
10th Dec 2020 - RFI English

Alarming levels of hunger in India even post-lockdown, says survey

In India, the hunger situation remains grave among the marginalised and vulnerable communities even five months after the lockdown has ended, with a large number of families going to bed without food, showed a ‘Hunger Watch’ survey conducted across 11 states. About 56 per cent of the respondents never had to skip meals before lockdown. In September and October, 27 per cent respondents went to bed without eating. About one in 20 households often went to bed without eating.
10th Dec 2020 - The New Indian Express

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German intelligence places coronavirus protesters under observation - media

German intelligence agents have placed under observation a group of protesters against coronavirus restrictions, citing the influence of radicals including far-right Nazi admirers. The domestic intelligence service in the southwestern Baden-Wuerttemberg region put the “Querdenken 711” group on a watch-list due to its increasing radicalisation, the state’s interior ministry said on Wednesday. “Querdenken 711” was founded early in the pandemic by IT entrepreneur Michael Ballweg in the affluent city of Stuttgart and helped begin a nationwide movement.
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters

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Masked dolls and anti-virus lab kits - toys reflect Spain and Portugal's Coronavirus Christmas

Children in Spain and Portugal could find that their Christmas presents this year reflect the coronavirus pandemic as dolls wearing face masks, kits for making personal protection items, and other toys adapted to fit the times fly off shop shelves. Millions of kids around the world were stuck in their homes during a series of lockdowns, and when they did emerge, they were often told to wear masks. So, as the holiday season approached, some toymakers gave their toys a twist. “I think it’s a way of adapting to reality,” said mum Reyes Lopez as she looked around a toy store in Madrid. “Dolls also have to represent society.”
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Virtual pantomime hoping to bring Christmas joy to pupils across the North West during coronavirus lockdown

In England, an unlikely duo have come together to save the Christmas panto by offering school children across the North West the chance to watch it online instead. An unlikely duo have come together to save the Christmas panto by offering school children across the North West the chance to watch it online instead. Waterloo Primary Academy in Blackpool is just one of the schools who will get to watch the performance. Head teacher Mark Hamblett, said: "Usually at this time of year we would be taking the children to the theatre to watch the pantomime, this year we'll be taking the pantomime to the children instead."
8th Dec 2020 - ITV

France, Germany and Italy agreed to keep their skiing resorts shut until January, sparking a row with Austria

It took a pandemic to silence Gerhard Schmiderer. For the past quarter-century, the now 70-year-old “DJ Gerhard” has blasted trashy hits for drunken après-skiers at MooserWirt, a bar in St Anton, an Austrian ski resort. This year, however, the speakers will be silent rather than blaring out yet another rendition of The Final Countdown, a raucous anthem sung by big-haired Swedes. The usual revellers dancing on tables in ski boots will be absent. The 500m run back to the resort will no longer be strewn with those who have quaffed too much and fallen over in the snow.
8th Dec 2020 - iNews

A year on, markets bustling in Chinese city where COVID-19 emerged

Hundreds of shoppers pack a wet market on a December weekday morning in the Chinese city of Wuhan, jostling to buy fresh vegetables and live fish, frogs and turtles. Almost a year since the city reported the world’s first cases of COVID-19 in one of its handful of vast wet markets, and even as several other countries remain firmly in the grip of the subsequent pandemic, life in Wuhan has largely returned to normal. Wuhan has not recorded a new locally transmitted case in several months and is now indistinguishable from other Chinese cities with crowded shopping streets, traffic jams and tightly packed restaurants.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Summer holidays and ‘normal life’ on horizon as health chiefs hail ‘historic’ Covid vaccine rollout

The UK’s coronavirus vaccine tsar has said she expects families will be able to go on holiday next summer as the Covid jab started its historic rollout. Kate Bingham, chair of the coronavirus vaccine taskforce, said she expects by the summer that people will be in a “better place” to get on planes. She made the comments just hours after Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer jab on what has been dubbed “V-Day”. Ms Bingham told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "My gut feel is that we will all be going on summer holidays.
8th Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

Densely packed BAME communities in England bear brunt of Covid-19

Some of England’s most ethnically diverse areas have suffered up to four times more coronavirus infections than mostly white neighbourhoods only a few miles away, a Guardian analysis reveals, as health experts said the UK had paid the price for failing to tackle structural racism. A study of England’s 10 worst-hit council areas found huge disparities in the effect of Covid-19 on residents living alongside one another, with densely packed Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities bearing the brunt of the pandemic. In Blackburn with Darwen, which has experienced the UK’s highest coronavirus cases per capita, the contrast between neighbouring areas is stark. One in 10 people have had the virus in Bastwell, where 85.7% of residents come from a BAME background – four times higher than a neighbourhood five miles away where only 2% of people are non-white.
7th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

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UK shops reopen after lockdown - but footfall still down 30% on 2019

Britons flocked to the High Street after for the first weekend following the lifting of the nationwide lockdown - but footfall remained lower than pre-pandemic levels. The number of shoppers out this weekend was down 30% on the same period in 2019. Crowds keen for a Christmas bargain flocked to shopping areas across the UK on Saturday with large numbers of shoppers photographed on London's Regent Street and in Manchester. Diane Wehrle, marketing director for Springboard who produced the figures, said the boost was partly down to people desperate to leave their homes after lockdown
7th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

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The vaccine miracle: how scientists waged the battle against Covid-19

In the early afternoon of 3 January this year, a small metal box was delivered to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre addressed to virus expert Prof Zhang Yongzhen. Inside, packed in dry ice, were swabs from a patient who was suffering from a novel, occasionally fatal respiratory illness that was sweeping the city of Wuhan. Exactly what was causing terrifying rises in case numbers, medical authorities wanted to know? And how was the disease being spread? Zhang and his colleagues set to work. For the next 48 hours, virtually non-stop, he and his team used advanced sequencing machines to unravel the RNA – the genetic building blocks – of the virus which they believed was responsible for the outbreak. Decoding the 28,000 letters of this RNA – which acts as letters of DNA do in a human – would give a precise indication of the new pathogen’s nature and behaviour.
6th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Christmas shoppers flood high streets in return after lockdown

Christmas shoppers flooded England's high streets for the first weekend since lockdown was lifted and non-essential stores were allowed to reopen. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, retail experts predicted £1.5bn would be spent in shops nationwide on Saturday. Taking advantage of the first non-working day to do their Christmas shopping, people flooded London's Regent Street and city centres in Manchester and York. Shoppers visiting Westfield, east London and stores in central Birmingham had to contend with hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters staging demonstrations against more potential restrictions next year.
6th Dec 2020 - Sky News

COVID-19: Anti-lockdown and vaccine protests held across Australia

Anti-lockdown and vaccine protests have been held across Australia, with hundreds gathering in Sydney to hear from COVID-19 sceptics at a self-described “freedom” rally. The Sydney protest was observed by police but appeared to remain peaceful, with a NSW Police spokesperson confirming to NCA NewsWire there were no arrests. The rallies took place despite more significant easing of restrictions in NSW and Victoria following weeks of extremely low or zero case numbers. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told Sky News on Sunday morning he had complete confidence in the Therapeutic Goods Administration and medical experts, who had kept Australia safer than most countries in the world. He urged against complacency about COVID-19 and said it remained a contagious and deadly virus.
6th Dec 2020 - The Australian

'76 Days' review: Inside Wuhan hospitals during COVID-19

The first minutes of the experiential COVID-19 documentary “76 Days” are claustrophobic and disorienting — a feeling not unlike your first trip to the grocery store while wearing a mask. But it gets better. In the controlled chaos of a hospital’s corridors, everyone is sheathed head to toe in PPE. We see a woman screaming to say goodbye to her father and having to be restrained. A crowd bangs on a door pleading to be let in as the hospital staff reassures them that they will all be admitted if they only remain patient.
5th Dec 2020 - Los Angeles Times

Warner Bros to release all 2021 films on HBO Max and in cinemas on same day

Warner Bros will release all of its 2021 films, including Dune and The Matrix 4, online on the same day they hit cinemas. The move to put such major blockbusters straight on streaming service HBO Max is another blow to the struggling cinema industry, which has largely closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Warner Bros said the one-year plan was in response to the "unprecedented times" of the outbreak, but the multiplexes will no doubt still be concerned about what it could mean for their future. They have been stung by a raft of delays to high-profile films in 2020, including the latest instalments in popular franchises such as Marvel and James Bond.
4th Dec 2020 - Sky News

'They don't need me now': COVID impact forcing Britons to food banks

British food banks are seeing more families needing their support as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forces struggling people to seek help, charities and volunteers say. Lockdowns and other measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus have forced businesses to close or lay off staff. The rise in those out of work has resulted in more people turning to food banks, which provide emergency food supplies to families in need. “I was working part-time as a cleaner for evenings, and then when COVID started, we had to quit because everything was closed and our offices, they’re not opening until 2021 because people can work from home,” said Vilma Tunylaite, 40, queuing at a food bank in southwest London. “And me, they don’t need me now.”
4th Dec 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19 crisis: Fewer women than men feel they can ask for raise

Ginning up the courage to ask for a raise is tough in any labour market, let alone one ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. But men are exhibiting more moxie than women when it comes to bargaining for better pay during the pandemic. That is the finding of a study released this week by Moody’s Analytics and Morning Consult that surveyed 5,000 adult workers in mid-September.
4th Dec 2020 - Aljazeera.com

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Biden says he will join former presidents in publicly getting COVID vaccine

President-elect Joe Biden said he would publicly take a vaccine when it's available to encourage the public to get vaccinated, joining three former presidents who recently pledged to do the same. Biden said he'd "be happy" to join former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in getting the vaccine in public to prove it is safe. "When Dr. Fauci says we have a vaccine that is safe, that's the moment in which I will stand before the public," Biden said during an interview on CNN Thursday night. “People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work,” Biden told CNN, pointing to the high number of cases. "It matters what a president and vice president do. I think my three predecessors have set the model on what should be done."
4th Dec 2020 - USA Today

Is this the hardest working teacher in the UK? Maths teacher from south-west London wins £33,000 global award after his free tuition website helped students around the world study during Covid lockdown

Jamie Frost, 34, given prize for going above and beyond to keep pupils learning Teacher started free online learning platform used by students around the world He was one of 10 finalists shortlisted for Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize Ranjitsinh Disale, primary school teacher from India, won the million-dollar prize
3rd Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Facebook vows to remove false claims about Covid-19 vaccines

Facebook on Thursday said it would start removing false claims about Covid-19 vaccines, in a tightening of its policies on health-related misinformation. The new restrictions come a day after UK prime minister Boris Johnson vowed to fight the spread of misleading content from “anti-vaxxers”, as the UK prepares to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations from next week. Facebook said in a blog post that it would remove falsities debunked by public health experts, citing as an example claims that Covid-19 jabs contain microchips, a theory often spuriously linked to Bill Gates. Earlier this year, Facebook began removing Covid-19-related misinformation, but only if it could “contribute to imminent physical harm”, while material considered false by fact-checkers was covered with a warning label.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Financial Times

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Hawaii’s new remote-work program will cover your airfare in exchange for volunteering

While you might be eyeing remote-work visas abroad as a way to travel internationally again, Hawaii just created a long-term-stay program for U.S. residents to get away from the mainland. Movers & Shakas, a state- and company-funded program, will provide airfare to Oahu to 50 out-of-staters willing to spend at least a month in Hawaii volunteering with nonprofits. The program begins Dec. 15. A spokesperson for the program said that depending on how the Oahu pilot program goes, future volunteering remote workers heading to other islands could be eligible for the free roundtrip airfare.
2nd Dec 2020 - Washington Post

U.S. employers could mandate a COVID-19 vaccine, but are unlikely to do so -experts

Private U.S. companies have the right under the law to require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but are unlikely to do so because of the risks of legal and cultural backlash, experts said. Companies are still in the early stages of navigating access and distribution of vaccines against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but inoculation is considered the key to safely resume operations at crowded warehouses, factory lines and on sales floors.
2nd Dec 2020 - MSN.com

CVS, Walgreens to Give Covid-19 Shots at Nursing Homes

CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. are preparing to administer Covid-19 vaccines in tens of thousands of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the country, with shots possibly rolling out in just weeks. Federal advisers on Tuesday urged that residents at long-term care centers be first in line for the Covid shots, along with at-risk health-care workers. In making the recommendation, the advisers said the move would be well-supported by a new partnership formed between the Department of Health and Human Services and pharmacy companies to vaccinate at the centers.
2nd Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

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Europe's schools still open, still relatively safe, through covid-19 second wave

When European schools reopened their classrooms in the spring, after the first wave of the coronavirus had crested, some parents expressed concern their children were being used as “guinea pigs” in a dangerous experiment. But to the extent that European schools have acted as laboratories for the world, the findings eight months later are largely positive. Most of Europe kept schools open even during a worst-on-the-planet second wave of infections this fall. And still, schools appear to be relatively safe environments, public health officials say. As long as they adhered to a now-established set of precautions — mask-wearing, hand-washing, ventilation — schools are thought to have played only a limited role in accelerating coronavirus transmission in Europe.
1st Dec 2020 - The Washington Post

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How anti-vaxxers are threatening the UK's Covid programme

In the imagination of extreme opponents of vaccination — or anti-vaxxers — every human inoculated against coronavirus will be turned into a chimera, injected with nanoparticles that beam out their biometric data and commoditised with bar codes linked to cryptocurrency. In their view, far from liberating us from the recurring nightmare of lockdowns, vaccines in development in Europe and the US are secretly intended to “enslave us to the system”. However far-fetched it may appear, this kind of vision has been proliferating online alongside more prosaic forms of misinformation just as the mass roll out of Covid-19 vaccines comes within sight.
30th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

EasyJet launches cut-price Covid-19 tests for travellers

EasyJet is offering discounted coronavirus tests for passengers in a bid to boost demand for air travel. The Luton-based airline said it has agreed a deal with two private testing firms to offer preferential rates to flyers. Testing has become a requirement for entry to a number of easyJet’s most popular destinations, such as Germany, Spain and Italy.
30th Nov 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

International students arrive in Australia after 9 months of COVID lockdown

The first international students to arrive in Australia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have landed in Darwin, signalling another change for the country’s locked-down border. Students from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia have arrived at Darwin International Airport on a charter SilkAir flight from Singapore as part of a pilot program to return international tourists to Australia. The 63 students who landed this morning were to be transferred straight to the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility east of Darwin for 14 days of quarantine, the ABC reported.
30th Nov 2020 - NEWS.com.au

Anti-Lockdown Protesters Chant 'Open L.A.' Outside Health Chief's Home Before New Covid Restrictions Begin

Crowds gathered outside the home of the Los Angeles County's public health director on Sunday to protest against the latest round of Covid-19 restrictions taking effect this week. Dr. Barbara Ferrer's Echo Park home was surrounded by dozens of demonstrators, carrying placards, waving flags and chanting: "Open L.A." and "No science. No data. No shutdown". Footage from the scene shows few people in the crowd were wearing face masks as they paced up and down the street. LAPD officers could be seen over looking the scene with a police vehicle parked in what appears to be Ferrer's driveway.
30th Nov 2020 - Newsweek on MSN.com

Pandemic Motors: Europeans snap up old cars to avoid public transport

Want a cheap used car to nip around town without running the gauntlet of coronavirus on public transport? Welcome to Pandemic Motors, we have just what you need. Across Europe, people are snapping up old bangers, clunkers, Klapperkasten, tacots and catorci, desperate to avoid buses and trains but wary of splashing out on a shiny new motor in uncertain economic times. “Public transportation is terrific here, but with the COVID and all that, it’s better to avoid it,” said Robert Perez, who recently moved to Spain’s capital Madrid from Argentina.
30th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

How the COVID-19 recession will forever impact Gen Z

The coronavirus pandemic has brought much of the world’s economies into a recession, affecting every sector of the global population. But one demographic – Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012 – may never recover. From a lack of socialisation to not being able to start their careers, we are examining how Gen Z’ers from ages eight to 23 will have to manage these unprecedented challenges.
30th Nov 2020 - Aljazeera.com

Coronavirus: German anti-lockdown protests shift to Polish border

Objectors of coronavirus curbs have converged on Frankfurt-an-der-Oder on Germany's border with Poland. Meanwhile, at viral hot spot Hildburghausen in Thuringia state, the local county chief is under police protection.
28th Nov 2020 - DW (English)

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How an anti-lockdown 'truthpaper' bypasses online factcheckers

When the factcheckers tried to find the source of a viral photo that was spreading across Facebook, they were confused. The picture – which had been uploaded by users in the UK, US, Australia and elsewhere in the world - showed a headline that made the false claim that a US government agency had declared Covid-19 did not exist. It appeared to be from a real print newspaper, but no credible outlet would publish such a claim. It turned out the headline was from a new self-published conspiracy theorist “truthpaper” called the Light, edited by a man from Manchester who runs a business selling anti-vaccine T-shirts and 9/11 conspiracy merchandise. The outlet, which has published three issues since it first appeared in September, draws heavily on the gloop of long-running online conspiracies about a new world order, which have attached themselves to the current pandemic. Among other things it encourages people to stop wearing masks and disobey lockdown on the basis that the coronavirus is a hoax.
28th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Suspected North Korean hackers targeted COVID vaccine maker AstraZeneca - sources

Suspected North Korean hackers have tried to break into the systems of British drugmaker AstraZeneca in recent weeks, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, as the company races to deploy its vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. The hackers posed as recruiters on networking site LinkedIn and WhatsApp to approach AstraZeneca staff with fake job offers, the sources said. They then sent documents purporting to be job descriptions that were laced with malicious code designed to gain access to a victim’s computer. The hacking attempts targeted a “broad set of people” including staff working on COVID-19 research, said one of the sources, but are not thought to have been successful.
27th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

This Black Friday, a global coalition is holding Amazon to account

Black Friday is here once again, and bargains abound. With widespread lockdowns preventing crowds at brick-and-mortar stores, online sales are expected to soar. One merchant, in particular, stands to profit greatly: Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, at the helm of one of the world’s most powerful companies. But this year’s Black Friday not only presents an opportunity for Bezos to make extraordinary pandemic profits. It also marks the arrival of a new global movement linking warehouse workers, environmental activists and advocates for racial, tax, and data justice around the world in a common mission to #MakeAmazonPay.
27th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

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Volunteers discuss side-effects after receiving Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines

Volunteers who received two of the potential coronavirus vaccines in the US have spoken out about the side-effects they experienced following their jabs. This month, Moderna and Pfizer announced their vaccine candidates had been tested to 94.5 per cent and 95 per cent efficacy respectively. Jennifer Haller, who was injected on 16 March with Moderna’s experimental vaccine in Seattle, told WVPI-TV she only experienced mild side-effects as a result. "I had two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart,” she told the broadcaster. “Each time my arm was pretty sore the next day but besides that I personally didn't experience any other side effects." Ms Haller was the first person to receive a shot of Moderna’s candidate at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute as part of the first human trial of a vaccine to prevent the virus.
26th Nov 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

Here's how to tackle the Covid-19 anti-vaxxers

If we are talking to someone who’s uncertain about the vaccine we should try to be empathetic, actively listen, and focus on the benefits of taking it. And rather than contradicting them, we should suggest places where they can find out additional information. If people feel respected and trusted they are more likely to listen; and if they can find out on their own, then they will have time to process and engage with it without feeling defensive. And there are broader behavioural science tactics that the government can use to improve the uptake of vaccines, including making it seem like the default and showing it to be a social norm. This means using language that inherently assumes everyone will take the vaccines, making people feel they are actively opting out, rather than opting in.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

This Lockdown, England’s Theaters Know What to Do Online

The first coronavirus shutdown caught playhouses unawares, but they learned lessons that stood them in good stead when the shutters came down again. What a difference a lockdown makes. By way of proof, consider the terrific lineup of actresses brought together for “Little Wars,” an imaginative if overly arch play by the American writer Stephen Carl McCasland that is streaming online through Dec. 3. Its run finishes the day after England’s second coronavirus shutdown is scheduled to be lifted, at which point theaters in most regions will, with luck, be open again. Whereas streaming prospects during the first lockdown relied largely on recordings from theaters’ archives, the preference now is for material fashioned for the strange era in which we find ourselves. The digital premiere of “Little Wars” testifies to the abundance of talented performers who can be drawn upon during the pandemic, and to their desire to practice their craft against difficult odds. I’m not sure McCasland’s conceit would amount to as much as it does without the collectively hefty presence of such actresses as Linda Bassett, Juliet Stevenson and Sophie Thompson, all established theatrical names here.
26th Nov 2020 - The New York Times

India Coronavirus: How do you vaccinate a billion people?

When it comes to vaccine making, India is a powerhouse. It runs a massive immunisation programme, makes 60% of the world's vaccines and is home to half a dozen major manufacturers, including Serum Institute of India - the largest in the world. Not surprisingly, there's no lack of ambition when it comes to vaccinating a billion people against Covid-19. India plans to receive and utilise some 500 million doses of vaccines against the disease and immunise up to 250 million people by July next year.
26th Nov 2020 - BBC News

As France eases lockdown, ski resorts left out in the cold

Megeve, in the foothills of Mont Blanc, was gearing up to welcome back skiers before Christmas after a COVID-19 lockdown was eased. But France’s government - while allowing cinemas, museums and theatres to reopen from Dec. 15 - says its ski slopes must stay off limits until 2021, leaving those who make their living in the Alpine village frustrated and, in some cases, perplexed.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Never mind what antivaxxers say — just watch what they do

Antivax talk is worrying. However, it is only talk. Social media has made this the wordiest era in history. Sharing conspiracy theories online is excitingly subversive, making people feel they have taken the “red pill” and seen the truth. More telling, though, is their behaviour. In real life, when things get serious, almost everyone chooses vaccination. “If Covid-19 vaccines are found to be efficacious and safe and widely available, my guess is that a very large proportion of people will ultimately take them,” says Vish Viswanath of Harvard’s School of Public Health. Even French behaviour is reassuring. Vaccination rates here have been rising: 98.6 per cent of babies born in early 2018 received the “hexavalent” vaccine that protects against six illnesses, including hepatitis B and tetanus. True, it’s compulsory, but parents still have to bring in their kids. Even in the US, where parents can more easily refuse vaccinations, only about 7 per cent or fewer adamantly oppose them, depending on the vaccine, says Viswanath. He adds: “This small group gets a disproportionate share of attention.”
26th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

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Coronavirus surge: Is lockdown 'fatigue' to be blamed for the rise in cases?

Delhi, which once successfully turned the tide over in COVID-19 is grappling with infection spikes again. The same has been witnessed in other cities across India. Unlike what many believe, the worst might not just be over yet. This, despite the fact that India as a country is witnessing a depleting peak of COVID. While authorities are imposing strict measures to safeguard the community, there have been significant lapses on the part of the public as well.
25th Nov 2020 - Times of India

‘Relocation of the nation’ expected to spike next month

They were once the cities people would move to for work but the coronavirus pandemic has made things look dramatically different now. While people have anecdotally shared stories of people moving from Melbourne after the Victoria’s harsh lockdown restrictions, new data shows just how true that is. But Melburnians don’t want to move to Sydney either, with the city being snubbed for Brisbane. South Australians are also heading to the sunshine state, according to Muval, a national online removalist booking platform.
25th Nov 2020 - NEWS.com.au

German restaurant bears out pandemic with furry customers

The owner of a Frankfurt restaurant is staging a protest against the coronavirus lockdown in Germany by filling his tables with a hundred stuffed toy pandas, in a play on the word “pandemic”. German officials are expected on Wednesday to agree to extend until Dec. 20 a “lockdown light” they imposed on Nov. 2 that means bars, restaurants and entertainment venues must stay closed, while shops and schools can remain open. “We wanted to put some life back into our restaurant,” said Guiseppe Fichera, manager of restaurant Pino. “They are Panda-Mic pandas.”
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Can't dine out? UK restaurants offer DIY meal kits to survive lockdown

From fast food to fine dining, some restaurants in Britain are relying on home kits to keep them afloat during lockdown, turning clients into cooks who recreate favourite meals in the comfort of their own kitchens. For brothers James and Thom Elliot, the lockdowns provided an unexpected lifeline for their “pizza in the post” Pizza Pilgrims business. The venture now sells over 1,000 kits a day delivered by couriers.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

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Coronavirus vaccines face trust gap in Black and Latino communities, study finds

In the US, if offered a coronavirus vaccine free of charge, fewer than half of Black people and 66 percent of Latino people said they would definitely or probably take it, according to a survey-based study that underscores the challenge of getting vaccines to communities hit hard by the pandemic. The survey released Monday is one of the largest and most rigorous to date. Other recent studies have also pointed to vaccine hesitancy in communities of color, but Monday’s survey delved deeper into the reasons, polling respondents on a spectrum of questions to get at the roots of their distrust.
25th Nov 2020 - Washington Post

Crowds of up to 4,000 and grassroots sport to return after English lockdown

Crowds of up to 4,000 people will be allowed to return to sporting events in England from next week, and grassroots sport will also resume as part of an easing of coronavirus restrictions announced by the prime minister. The changes were greeted with widespread relief after weeks of concerted pressure from sporting bodies and the public, who had both argued the importance of being able to participate in sport during the pandemic and also of the ability to watch it safely. England is to return to a system of tiered restrictions from 2 December but gyms, pools, golf courses and leisure facilities will now be allowed to open in all tiers after the government accepted their positive impact on physical and mental health
24th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Misinformation and fear could be coronavirus vaccine’s biggest problem

These are just some of the things Londoners said to me when I asked them if they’d take a Covid vaccine. Perhaps they’ve joined the small but vocal minority claiming that the vaccine is a plot to insert surveillance microchips into the population, or maybe, like many thousands more, they simply worry the development of the jab has been rushed. We will probably never know, but while it’s easy to dismiss as ridiculous some of the more extreme anti-vaccine sentiment out there — like anyone repeating the rumour spread by Russian bots that the vaccine will turn us into chimpanzees — the number of “vaccine hesitant” people is growing. Most of them are not cranks, just cautious — and, in a climate of fear and confusion, their trust in what they read in the papers or hear in government briefings is diminishing.
24th Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

In race for coronavirus vaccine, Russia turns to disinformation

When two COVID-19 vaccines were announced within a week of each other, everyone cheered that the end to the global pandemic was now in sight. Everyone, that is, except Russia. Since the summer, Moscow has conducted a global disinformation campaign aimed at both undermining vaccines produced in the West and promoting its own rival product, particularly to countries across the developing world, according to interviews with four national and European Union disinformation experts and a review of Kremlin-backed media outlets by POLITICO.
24th Nov 2020 - POLITICO.eu

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A birthday lunch left 15 Texas relatives battling covid-19: ‘Please don’t be like my family’

Enriqueta Aragonez reclined on a hospital bed in Arlington, Tex., with plastic tubes snaking from her nose and pneumonia in both of her lungs. The 57-year-old had a message for everyone doubting the need for covid-19 restrictions. “I went to my nephew’s house and loved seeing my family, but now, I’m fighting against covid-19,” Aragonez said in a video message. “Please protect yourself. It’s real.” Aragonez is one of 15 family members who contracted the coronavirus after a small indoor birthday celebration earlier this month where no one wore masks. Weeks later, in an emotional video shared by the city of Arlington, the family is begging others to avoid gathering with anyone outside their immediate household.
23rd Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

Majority of Croatians sceptical of coronavirus vaccine

A majority of Croatians do not plan on taking a vaccine to immunise against the coronavirus once it becomes available, a recent survey has found. According to the poll, which was conducted by the Valicon market research company and published by Croatian news agency RTL last week, 43 percent of respondents said they would definitely or would probably vaccinate, mostly citing responsibility towards others and that a higher rate of vaccination will limit infections as reasons. But 57 percent said they definitely would not or probably would not vaccinate, citing mistrust of the vaccine until it was proven to be safe, while a large number of respondents also said they feared there could be side effects. Others said they would not vaccinate because they believed they were not at risk, while a quarter of respondents said the virus constantly mutates and that vaccinating would not protect them. The survey gathering opinions from 523 people in Croatia comes as a global scientific race is under way to produce an effective vaccine for the coronavirus.
23rd Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Millions of Americans set to ignore warnings against Thanksgiving travel

Ominous warnings came as Donald Trump appeared to admit that coronavirus is “running wild” across the US, in contrast with his statements throughout the election campaign that the virus would simply “go away” or “disappear” and, more recently, that the country was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic. As new Covid-19 infections in the US approached 200,000 a day, Trump tweeted on Saturday night to insist things were bad outside the United States as well, posting: “The Fake News is not talking about the fact that ‘Covid’ is running wild all over the world, not just in the US.”
23rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

In Italy, theater reopens in town devastated by COVID

In a signal of rebirth, the Donizetti theater in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, reopened this weekend after three years of renovations. But the planned gala celebration had to be postponed, and new productions for an annual festival dedicated to the city’s native composer Gaetano Donizetti had to be streamed online from an empty theater. Festival musical director Riccardo Frizza said the autumn festival was envisioned as a life-affirming moment for the city and province, where 6,000 people died in a single month last spring.
23rd Nov 2020 - Associated Press

Pizza worker at centre of South Australia lockdown 'unaware' of public attention

In Australia, the Spanish national at the centre of a police investigation into his failure to disclose to contact tracers he worked shifts at the Woodville Pizza Bar is unaware of the growing public focus on him as he remains in hotel quarantine, Guardian Australia has learned. The 36-year-old man, currently on a temporary graduate visa in Australia, had his devices seized by South Australian police over the weekend after they issued a search warrant to obtain them from his quarantine hotel room. All the focus on the one man is causing concern among contact tracing experts, who argue it might hinder people coming forward for testing. They say the best way to get the most accurate information from people during contact tracing interviews is to ensure their privacy and protect them from punishment.
23rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

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Wealthy nations urged to give portion of Covid vaccine as 'humanitarian buffer'

Public health groups are lobbying countries to commit a portion of their Covid-19 vaccine supplies to a “humanitarian buffer” that would be used to inoculate people living in rebel-held territories, those in asylum-seeker camps and others unlikely to receive vaccinations from their governments. The emergency stockpile is intended to act as a safety net to ensure the global effort to end the Covid-19 pandemic is not sabotaged by governments using vaccines as bargaining chip with restive populations, or simply denying it to some marginalised groups. “In Syria there are a lot of internally displaced people who might end up in areas not controlled by the government, or they might be considered to be anti-government or pro-revolution,” said Alain Alsalhani, a vaccine pharmacist who works with Médecins Sans Frontières.
21st Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Unions call for frontline UK workers to be prioritised for Covid vaccine

Unions have called for key frontline workers to be granted priority access to an approved Covid vaccine after they were omitted from the list of those who should receive it first. The unions, representing more than 1.8 million employees, say that by prioritising only the elderly and health and social care workers, the distribution plan fails to protect other key workers with increased risk of exposure. Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: “It is absolutely correct that social care staff and health workers receive the vaccine at an early stage so they are protected and are not at risk of inadvertently transmitting the virus.
20th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

'People need mountains': Swiss ski resorts buck Alpine lockdowns

Blue skies over the Matterhorn drew skiers and snowboarders to Zermatt on Saturday, as well as police to break up crowds, as Switzerland’s modest coronavirus restrictions allowed near-normal operations while other Alpine resorts keep their lifts shut. France, Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered even the high-altitude lifts that could be running this early in the winter to remain closed for now in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak-season, if and when the infection rate slows. Switzerland, despite being a second-wave coronavirus hotspot with 5,000 infections a day and mounting deaths, is hoping that a middle way of social distancing, limits on gatherings and mask-wearing on lifts can prop up pillars of the economy such as tourism without fuelling the pandemic.
21st Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Christmas in lockdown preferred by UK public over new restrictions in January

Most of the public would rather have a locked-down Christmas than have a new lockdown imposed in January, a new poll suggests. With the government considering the extent to which restrictions should be lifted to limit the impact on Christmas family gatherings, the latest Opinium poll for the Observer found that the public opted for a locked-down Christmas over new January restrictions by a margin of 54% to 33%. This split is almost identical across all party groups and demographics, with older voters in particular preferring to lock down over Christmas rather than in January. There was also strong support for banning people from posting conspiracy theories about the vaccine online, with 64% supporting the idea.
21st Nov 2020 - The Guardian

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Snape Maltings to host virtual tea dance to combat isolation during lockdown

The organisation which runs Snape Maltings is staging popular virtual tea dances to help bring some normality back to people’s lives during the coronavirus crisis - and tackle social isolation. Tea dances at Snape Maltings have been hugely popular, becoming valued by residents of East Suffolk care homes, their carers and people of all ages for the opportunity to socialise in a warm, welcoming environment and enjoy music, dancing, tea and cake. This year, bringing people together in a physical venue is not possible - so instead, Britten Pears Arts is planning a virtual version of the Tea Dance, taking place on Tuesday, December 8 at 2pm.
19th Nov 2020 - East Anglian Daily Times

To beat Covid-19 will take far more than a new vaccine

We are entering a new phase of Covid-19 as interim data, first from Pfizer and BioNTech, and then Moderna, show promise of a safe and effective vaccine. More candidates are expected to follow — Sanofi has two vaccines in trials. One, a collaboration with GSK, is based on our flu vaccine and data from phase 1 and 2 studies will come shortly. The second is a messenger RNA vaccine similar in approach to Pfizer and Moderna. But, having a vaccine is only one facet in the complicated war to contain the virus.Distribution is perhaps the biggest hurdle. Vaccines are not interchangeable and ensuring that individuals get two doses, if required, of the same vaccine is critical. There may also be issues with safeguarding potency. Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines need to be stored at minus 20C and about minus 70C respectively, and used within five or 30 days of being refrigerated. Pharmaceutical companies are rushing to develop transportable cold storage containers and logistics companies are building freezer farms. Mass vaccination clinics, such as the UK’s repurposed Nightingale hospitals, could help distribution in cities.
19th Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

How China crushed coronavirus

Hong Wei returned to his hometown of Luoyang in Henan province for the Spring Festival in early February. It took a few days for the gateway of his residential compound to be cordoned off, signalling that only residents should enter. For Hong, this was just the first sign of the mass mobilisation of people that has characterised China’s remarkably successful response to the coronavirus pandemic. Hong’s uncle had already stocked up on all the ingredients to serve roast meat, braised fish and soup at his restaurant ready for what is usually his most lucrative period, but once state media began telling people to stay at home, he voluntarily closed his restaurant
19th Nov 2020 - Wired.co.uk

Covid could change our tolerance of flu deaths

Another, more lethal seasonal risk is the flu — in a bad year, as many as 25,000 people die from the virus in England alone. Yet this year, thanks in large part to lockdowns, flu cases are way down across the world and are likely to stay that way. That’s because the habits we’ve adopted to limit the spread of coronavirus — handwashing, mask-wearing and distancing — are effective for other respiratory pathogens too. “The measures we’re taking are enough to essentially eliminate flu,” says David Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge University. A study by the US Centers for Disease Control has found huge falls in flu activity both in the southern hemisphere’s winter and in the US summer season.
19th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Northern authorities will 'not hesitate' to block anti-vax Covid-19 conspiracy theorists who could 'cost lives'

Councils across the north-east and Highlands have promised to police their public-facing online channels to avoid myths being spread and “threatening public safety”. The Grampian and Highland health boards have also urged responsible social media use during the pandemic, warning their comments sections will be monitored. Glasgow City Council hit out at the so-called ‘anti-vaxxers’ on Tuesday, promising to block those making “false and dangerous claims” which could “cost lives”. The P&J has sought assurances from northern authorities that similarly robust action would be taken to ensure key public health information can be distilled from the sea of coronavirus fearmongering online.
19th Nov 2020 - Press and Journal

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Coronavirus: UK millennials shun city living amid move to remote working

Millennials are making a “radical move away from city-centre living” as the UK shifts towards remote working in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a new study has found. As living close to physical workplaces becomes less important, first and second time buyers are looking to get more for their money and are focusing on suburbs, market towns and villages to get a better deal and enjoy greater access to nature and outdoor space, according to new research by Credit Karma. Half of young people (49%) now hope to buy or rent outside of the town or city that they work in, according to the survey of over 1,000 UK adults.
18th Nov 2020 - Yahoo Finance UK

'The cow can't tell my secrets' - UK care farms a lifeline during pandemic

Care farms nestled in the British countryside are providing a lifeline for people struggling with mental health during the pandemic, allowing them to swap therapy sessions on Zoom for the joys of fresh air, mucking out cow sheds and cuddling donkeys. With vital public services for vulnerable people shut down or reduced to video calls because of social distancing measures, care farms have been able to stay open as activities take place in wide open spaces. At Future Roots in the southern county of Dorset, 14-year-old Liam Holt has found that spending time outdoors working with animals and other people has had a transformational effect on his state of mind.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

How a vaccine could upend real estate markets -- again

In just a matter of months the coronavirus pandemic dramatically changed the landscape of the housing market, especially in big cities. But now news of a promising vaccine could turn the market on its head again. Nationally, home prices have never been higher, driven up as surging demand due to record low mortgage rates comes up against historically low inventory of homes for sale. But the most expensive urban areas have been experiencing the opposite problem. Cities like New York and San Francisco have seen higher vacancy rates and lower rents and sale prices as many people, untethered from office jobs, retreated to the suburbs and less densely populated areas.
18th Nov 2020 - CNN Business

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Educators work with industry leaders to make remote learning more hands-on

Students have powered on as best they can during the pandemic. Handling remote learning and adjusted teaching methods. Now, some schools are partnering with local industry leaders to help make some classes more hands-on, even while taking classes from home. "We have several auto-shop classes. Auto shop is completely hands-on, right? Kids need to be in the grease, they need to be on the tools. And so, it's been very difficult. So we've actually had some teachers that actually put together tool kits and checked them out to students where they can tinker with things at home," said Dr. Jamon Peariso, the Director of College and Career Readiness at Visalia Unified School District.
17th Nov 2020 - WXYZ Detroit

Insurers are trying to escape COVID-19 liability, watchdog tells UK Supreme Court

Insurers are trying to escape liability for pandemic-related business losses with counter-intuitive arguments that go against the essential purpose of insurance, Britain’s markets watchdog told the UK Supreme Court on Tuesday. A lawyer for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which brought a test case against insurers on behalf of policyholders, said insurers had reached an “extraordinary conclusion” that business losses were largely uncovered during the coronavirus pandemic because of the widespread havoc it has caused. “(Insurers) are saying: ‘We insure perils but not ones that are going to cost us a huge amount of money. We never contemplated that’. Well, that isn’t an answer,” Colin Edelman, the FCA’s lawyer, told the second day of a four-day appeal, watched by thousands of businesses brought to their knees during the pandemic.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Watchdog criticises UK government for COVID procurement amid 'chumocracy' claims

The British government did not properly document key decisions nor was it open enough about billions of pounds of contracts handed out during the COVID-19 pandemic, its spending watchdog has said, as critics accuse ministers of running a “chumocracy”. The National Audit Office (NAO) said on Wednesday there had been a lack of transparency and a failure to explain why certain suppliers were chosen, or how any conflict of interest was dealt with, over 18 billion pounds in procurement deals made between March and the end of July, often with no competition. The report comes amid growing criticism some multi-million pound contracts were awarded during the coronavirus crisis to companies with links to ministers, lawmakers and officials. “While we recognise that these were exceptional circumstances, it remains essential that decisions are properly documented and made transparent if government is to maintain public trust that taxpayers’ money is being spent appropriately and fairly,” NAO head Gareth Davies said.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

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Covid-19 contracts smell of cronyism – so I'm taking the government to court

There is an England of my mind. And in it those who have made their fortunes offer their time and talents in service of the public good, modelling self-sacrifice and respect for good governance to ensure the nation thrives. But that England is no longer this England. Take the story of Kate Bingham. She is wife to a Treasury minister and cousin by marriage to Boris Johnson’s sister. Despite having – by her own admission – no vaccines experience, she was appointed by the prime minister, as far as we know without competition, to head up the “vaccines taskforce”. With this role came responsibility for investing billions of pounds of public money, a task she performed while remaining managing director of a private equity firm specialising in health investments. While in post she gave, again apparently without competition, a £670,000 contract to a tiny PR firm, whose last accounts show net assets of less than a third of that sum. Its directors include Collingwood Cameron, a longstanding business associate of Humphry Wakefield (better known as Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law).
16th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Many thousands suffering from long COVID, UK health minister says

Many thousands of people in Britain are suffering from “long COVID”, ongoing illness after contracting the coronavirus, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday. “We’ve already seen the serious impact that long COVID can have on people’s quality of life, even the fit and the young, symptoms like fatigue and breathlessness, muscle pain and neurological problems, long after they first had the virus,” Hancock told a media conference. “And we know that long COVID affects thousands of people, many thousands of people,” he added, saying England would have a network of 40 clinics to deal with long COVID by the end of the month.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Anti-lockdown demonstrators clash with police in Italy and French Catholics demand right to worship

Protest organised by ultra-right Forza Nuova and the No Mask movement took place in Piazza Venezia, Rome. Demonstration saw protesters face off with riot police as they shouted and tried to barge through barricade. In France, several Catholic protests organised across country demanding the return of religious services
16th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

French Catholics protest for end to lockdown on Mass

With banners reading “Let us Pray” and “We Want Mass,” Catholic protesters held scattered demonstrations around France on Sunday to demand that authorities relax virus lockdown measures to allow religious services. In the western city of Nantes, hundreds gathered in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, some kneeling on the rain-soaked pavement, according to local broadcaster France Bleu. Similar gatherings were reported or planned in the eastern city of Strasbourg, Bordeaux in the southwest, and outside the Saint-Louis Cathedral in Versailles.
16th Nov 2020 - ABC News

French authors offer to pay bookshops' Covid lockdown fines

A group of French authors has promised to pay fines imposed on the country’s bookshops that remain open in defiance of coronavirus lockdown rules. The pledge was made by the bestselling writer Alexandre Jardin, who said authors were getting together to support booksellers during the crisis. Under France’s lockdown rules, which are in force until at least 1 December, only essential shops and businesses can remain open. Bookshops are not deemed “essential”. Jardin, who lost a close relative to coronavirus last month, said he was not taking the health threat lightly, but feared for the future of independent bookshops. “We will not let our bookshops close,” he told BFMTV. “We can’t be having the cops descending on them.”
16th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Spain's hard-pressed millennials move out of the city amid COVID

Thirty-one-year-old Ines Alcolea ditched the bustling life of Madrid in October for a village near the much quieter medieval town of Toledo, unable to face the prospect of more COVID-19 restrictions in her small flat in the Spanish capital. “At least here, if there’s another lockdown we’ll have more space, a garden. It’ll be lighter,” Alcolea said, sitting in her new home surrounded by boxes and her two cats. She is paying half the rent she used to for nearly twice the space, and has a rooftop terrace thrown in.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Packed crowds and euphoric leaders: Australia revels in Covid-free days

When the premier of Queensland held her regular Covid-19 update on Friday she couldn’t help letting a smile creep across her face. “Now, here’s a good one,” Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters. “I think all Queenslanders are going to be happy about it.” She went on to announce that Brisbane’s Suncorp stadium would host a capacity 52,500 crowd for the forthcoming State of Origin rugby league decider against New South Wales next week. “The cauldron can be filled to 100% capacity,” she said.
15th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

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Charleston schools launch learning pods for low-income students to aid virtual instruction

When Charleston County schools first reopened their doors in September after six long months of coronavirus-mandated online learning, parents were presented with a difficult choice. They could opt to send their children back to the classroom in person and risk them getting infected with a deadly virus, or they could attempt to minimize health and safety risks by having them start the school year from behind a computer screen, isolated from their peers and teachers. Around 27,500 students, or around 54 percent of the district’s total student population, ultimately decided to tune in to their first day of school virtually, a figure that far exceeded the district’s initial projections.
15th Nov 2020 - Charleston Post Courier

In Michigan, undocumented immigrants form learning pod so they won't lose their jobs

When public schools in Ann Arbor, Mich., closed last spring, Betty, an undocumented domestic worker, feared losing her job if she stayed home to help her children navigate virtual schooling. But even if she could stay home, she worried that she didn't have the English proficiency to support her daughter, a ninth-grader at a public high school in Ann Arbor, Mich.
14th Nov 2020 - Minnesota Public Radio News

Socially distanced Diwali celebrated in UK under lockdown

Britain’s Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are celebrating their first ever virtual Diwali on Saturday, as the Covid lockdown has forced the cancellation of almost all normal festivities. Despite the usual gatherings of friends and families being impossible because of the pandemic, numerous councils and temples across the UK have instead taken the celebrations online, hosting video streams for the faithful to tune in.
14th Nov 2020 - The Independent

India fears annual Diwali festivities will cause coronavirus surge

India fears annual Diwali festivities will cause coronavirus surge - The crowds filling shopping areas ahead of the Diwali festival of lights on Saturday are raising hopes of India's distressed business community after months of lockdown losses but also spawning fears of a massive coronavirus upsurge. People who've restricted their purchases to essentials for months appear to be in a celebratory mood and traders are lapping it up, said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders. "The past three days have seen a tremendous increase in customer footfall in shopping markets for festival purchases,” he said.
13th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

How to reinvent cities for the post-pandemic world

The once mighty financial capitals of the world have been reduced to ghost towns as they suffer the effects of COVID-19. For more than a century, cities have been magnets for millions of people seeking work opportunities and the promise of a better life. But the COVID-19 pandemic is rewriting the way we live and work. City centres have been turned into ghost towns as people work from home. It could potentially leave lasting scars with shops, restaurants and services that cater to commuters being decimated.
14th Nov 2020 - Aljazeera

Communal worship ‘criminalised’ under lockdown, church leaders in England say

More than 100 Christian leaders have launched a legal challenge against the ban on communal worship in England under lockdown restrictions. They claim worship has been “criminalised” and the ban has “inflicted a terrible human cost” on congregations for whom collective worship is a core element of their religious life. The restrictions on public worship, they argue, breach article 9 of the European convention on human rights which protects the right to freedom of religion. The claim for judicial review by 122 church leaders from different traditions is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, an arm of the conservative evangelical organisation Christian Concern.
14th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

'Just hugging was amazing': joy and tears as Victorian families reunite after Melbourne lockdown

As Mel McNamara drove from the Victorian mainland over the Phillip Island bridge, her eyes filled with tears. “My daughter, she asked me why I was crying,” Mel says. “I had to tell her that these are happy tears – I was just so grateful to be by the sea and going to see my family.” It had been four months since Mel last saw her mother Julie and stepdad Damian, both residents on the island. Victoria’s “ring of steel” had kept them apart, with the threat of a $5,000 fine for any Melburnian who tried to escape the confines of the city. Mel burst into tears again when she finally saw her mum.
14th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

More than 300,000 New Yorkers have fled the Big Apple in the last eight months

More than 300,000 residents have reportedly fled New York City from between March and October, report says. 295,103 residents filed change of address forms with the U.S. Postal Service, but the number of movers likely rises when considering multi-person households. Many residents relocated to New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester. Wealthy residents on the city's Upper West Side made 9,076 mail forwarding requests - the largest chunk in the city. Key factors included economic stressors, crime surges, concerns over local schooling and the pandemic
14th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

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Families make the dash across SA to be re-united with loved ones in Western Australia

Campers and caravans are on the move in South Australia as the WA hard border is set to come down early on Saturday morning. For some families, it's been an emotional trek to reunite with their loved ones. Newcastle couple Pete and Kim Mackie haven't seen their children and grandchildren in Perth for 11 months, and said they've skipped the sightseeing through South Australia to take the direct route to be with their family.
12th Nov 2020 - ABC News

Germany’s protests against coronavirus restrictions are becoming increasingly radical

Around 9:30 on a quiet Sunday morning late last month, a crudely made explosive device went off with a small bang and a flash in central Berlin near the building of an association of German scientific institutes. A note found nearby demanded the end to coronavirus restrictions. Just a few hours earlier, molotov cocktails had been tossed at the front of the Robert Koch Institute, the German federal agency responsible for controlling the virus. The incidents come against the backdrop of a growing violent undercurrent at large-scale street demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions, including one attended by 20,000 people Saturday in Leipzig. The developments point to an increasingly radicalized movement of virus skeptics in Germany, embraced by the country’s far-right extremist groups and energized by global conspiracy theories, notably those put forth by the U.S.-born QAnon movement.
12th Nov 2020 - Washington Post

Gates Foundation adds $70 million more funding for COVID vaccines for poor

The Gates Foundation added another $70 million of funding on Thursday to global efforts to develop and distribute vaccines and treatments against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it hoped other international donors would now also pledge more. An extra $50 million will go to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) led by the GAVI vaccine alliance, the foundation said, and another $20 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which is co-funding development of several COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Boosting Psychological, Social Well-Being Could Play Role In Countering Conspiracy Theories, Misinformation About COVID-19, Opinion Piece Says

To counter conspiracy theories, boost well-being - Aleksandra Cichocka, political psychologist at the University of Kent and affiliate of the Nicolaus Copernicus University....“…[T]hose who believe conspiracy theories are less likely than those who don’t to comply with public health measures. The World Health Organization has called on countries to manage the spread of false information. But how? … [The Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories] concludes that it is easier to spread them than to refute them. Correcting entrenched beliefs is very difficult. So it is better to prevent falsehoods taking root than to try to weed them out. That means looking beyond their content and the platforms and algorithms that fuel their spread. We need to examine what makes people susceptible. … The COVID-19 pandemic created a perfect storm for vulnerability to conspiracy narratives. Uncertainty and anxiety are high. Lockdown and social distancing bring isolation.
12th Nov 2020 - Kaiser Family Foundation

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A Hub In DC Public Housing Helps Kids With Distance Learning

An 11-year-old girl took a math test on decimals. A nine-year-old boy solved a word problem that directed him to calculate the attendance size of the Super Bowl. His seven-year-old sister doodled in a notebook during a break from her virtual second-grade class. The students are part of a learning hub inside the Greenleaf Gardens Apartments, a 493-unit public housing community in Southwest D.C. Worried that students were falling behind academically after the coronavirus pandemic forced most classes online for the city’s schoolchildren, residents at Greenleaf and other public housing developments approached the non-profit GOODProjects about creating the hub, said Darius Baxter, the organization’s founder.
11th Nov 2020 - WAMU 88.5

Covid-19: Universities to oversee student exodus for Christmas

An evacuation-style plan will aim to get students home safely for Christmas. Students in England are to be allocated departure dates during a "student travel window" between 3 and 9 December, to minimise the risk of them spreading Covid-19. In Wales, they are being asked to travel by 9 December at the latest. Many will be offered rapid result tests, while teaching will move online from 3 December in Wales and 9 December in England. The Scottish government wants as many as possible of the 80,000 or so students going home for Christmas to be offered voluntary tests before they travel. Northern Ireland is expected to publish plans for students' return in the coming days. One union said the plan for a week-long travel window in England "leaves little room for error"
11th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Covid: Lockdown 'exploited by extremists to recruit'

The second lockdown in England is making more young people vulnerable to being groomed by extremists, a senior counter-terror officer has warned. Supt Matthew Davison, from Counter Terrorism Policing, said extremists were using the pandemic to spread hate and disinformation online. He said young people were being targeted "in their bedrooms". At the same time referrals to the anti-extremism Prevent programme are falling. The government said it would "continue to challenge and disrupt extremists who sow division".
11th Nov 2020 - BBC News

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Study Shows Endangered Marine Mammals Are At Risk Of Contracting COVID-19

Wastewater is known to carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In fact, cities around the world are testing wastewater to gauge the extent of local coronavirus outbreaks. Wastewater is often treated before it enters the ocean to kill microbes, like viruses and bacteria. However, untreated wastewater is occasionally released into waterways when treatment plants reach capacity, such as during a heavy rain event. In these situations, wastewater treatment facilities may release wastewater that has not been fully treated. When over-capacity wastewater treatment plants release untreated effluent during the current pandemic, the virus that causes COVID-19 enters marine habitats.
10th Nov 2020 - Forbes

How are people in Berlin handling 'lockdown light?'

German authorities have tightened restrictions on public life for a second time to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Bars and hotels are shut, and restaurants are open for takeout only. How are people in Berlin handling the situation?
10th Nov 2020 - Deutsche Welle

Coronavirus: Hundreds protest against 'fake pandemic' in Madrid

Hundreds of anti-vaccine demonstrators took to Madrid's Prado promenade on Saturday hitting out against the "fake pandemic" and the restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19. It came after police in Spain last week made dozens of arrests during clashes with protestors for a second consecutive night as demonstrators took to the streets to denounce the new coronavirus restrictions.
10th Nov 2020 - Euronews

German investor moral drops on concerns over second coronavirus lockdown

German investor sentiment dropped more than expected in November as a second wave of coronavirus infections and a partial lockdown to contain the disease increased uncertainty over the outlook for Europe’s largest economy. The ZEW economic research institute said on Tuesday that its survey of investors’ economic sentiment fell to 39.0 points from 56.1 points the previous month, undershooting a reading of 41.7 in a Reuters poll. “Financial experts are concerned about the economic impact of the second wave of COVID-19 and what this will entail,” ZEW President Achim Wambach said in a statement, adding that the data pointed to an economic slowdown in the fourth quarter.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Beaches, mountains, COVID data: Spain's lesser-known regions shine amid pandemic

The popularity of once under-the-radar regions like Asturias on Spain's northwestern coast has boomed as Spaniards factor in their handling of the pandemic alongside newfound priorities including sparse population and abundant natural spaces.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Dance teacher goes shopping dressed as a 'non-essential' ballerina to protest France's lockdown

Amandine Aguilar, ballet teacher from South West France danced in a store Filmed herself dancing to protest France's lockdown measures affecting the arts Her black tutu read 'I am "non-essential" to call out lack of help to culture sector Wrote on Facebook was 'depressed' after suffering several closures due to covid
10th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

From schoolboy to tea seller: Covid poverty forces India’s children into work

The pandemic has pushed millions of urban poor into crisis – and left children struggling to help their families survive. Subhan Shaikh used to start the day with a cup of cinnamon-flavoured tea, brought to him by his mother, Sitara, before he got ready for school. But the lockdown in March brought her salary as a school bus attendant to an end, and providing food – never mind tea – for Subhan, 14, and his two younger sisters, became a challenge. Today, life for Subhan revolves around tea, which has become a lifeline for his family. After seeing his mother struggle, Subhan decided to do something and became a tea seller on the streets of Mumbai.
10th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19: 'Lockdown' declared Collins Dictionary word of the year

"Lockdown" has been declared the word of the year for 2020 by Collins Dictionary, after a sharp rise in its usage during the pandemic. It "encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people", Collins said. Lexicographers registered more than 250,000 usages of "lockdown" during 2020, up from just 4,000 last year. Other pandemic-linked terms on the 10-strong list include "furlough", "key worker", "self-isolate" and "social distancing" as well as "coronavirus". According to the dictionary, lockdown is defined as "the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces".
10th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Collins Dictionary names ‘lockdown’ its word of the year for 2020

10th Nov 2020 - ITV

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Vaccine hesitancy may undermine fight against COVID-19, UK report says

An 80% uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine may be needed to protect communities from the novel coronavirus, but volatile levels of misinformation and vaccine mistrust could undermine efforts to tackle the pandemic, British scientists said on Tuesday. A report by scientific institutions the British Academy and the Royal Society found that, in part due to circulating misinformation and behavioural factors, around 36% of people in Britain say they are either uncertain or very unlikely to agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19. It said an “open dialogue” is critical to building public support for COVID-19 vaccination, and called for a “frank conversation” to manage public expectations that life will not immediately get back to normal when vaccines arrive.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

We may soon have a COVID-19 vaccine. But will enough people take it?

With COVID-19 vaccine trial results looking positive, governments and pharmaceutical firms face their next daunting challenge: convincing the world to get inoculated. Public resistance to vaccines has been much discussed this year, but the issue became very real on Monday when Pfizer and BioNTech announced their candidate was more than 90% effective in large trials - hoisting an actual shot onto the horizon. Numerous opinion polls carried out before and during the pandemic showed confidence is volatile, and that political polarization and online misinformation threatens uptake. Many people have concerns about the accelerated speed of COVID-19 vaccine development.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19 sniffer dogs that can sniff out virus in a second could soon come to Leeds

Specially-trained dogs that can sniff out coronavirus could soon be spotted in Leeds. The clever canines, which have been trained by the charity Medical Detection Dogs, can detect Covid-19 on people. The adorable Labradors were put through the paces at London Paddington train station in a trial earlier this month, where health secretary Matt Hancock was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall to see them in action. There are suggestions the sniffer dogs could be deployed in busy areas such as train stations and shopping centres to try and find people with Covid-19 and therefore minimise the risk of asymptomatic people mixing with others.
9th Nov 2020 - Leeds Live

Spell of heavy smog in Indian capital raises fears for COVID patients

Residents of the Indian capital are enduring one of the worst spells of air pollution in years, data released on Monday showed, raising the risks to city residents posed by the novel coronavirus, doctors said. Pollution in New Delhi had almost disappeared earlier this year, when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to stop the coronavirus. But the curbs have been lifted and the pollution, and the virus, are back with a vengeance. Delhi’s overall air quality index (AQI), which includes the concentration of PM2.5 particles as well as bigger pollutants, has stayed above 400, on a scale of 500, for five consecutive days, government data showed. The tiny PM2.5 particles can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases including lung cancer, and pose a particular risk for people with COVID 19.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters

In Britain, the poppy appeal grapples with COVID-19 lockdown

Britain’s poppy appeal, when tens of millions buy a red paper or metal poppy to remember the war dead and help armed forces families, is facing a battle of its own - collecting money amid the strictest lockdown in peacetime history. Charities across the world are struggling after the novel coronavirus lockdowns closed swathes of the economy, drove millions out of work and shuttered normal life - including many traditional ways of giving. Even the hardy Remembrance Poppy has been threatened. Red poppies sprang up beside the fallen amid the carnage of World War One trench warfare in the fields of Flanders, a contrast that swiftly graced some of the grief-stricken poetry of the so-called Great War.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Lockdown in paradise: Antigua’s plea for visitors

Osmilta Prince sits on a rock beneath a palm tree, her homemade mask covering her face. By her feet, is a basket of handmade shell bracelets and calabash bowls. Close by, a laminated sign reads: “Stay Apart 6 feet – or 9½ coconuts”. By this time of day, the 48-year-old single mother will have ordinarily sold enough curios to put food on the table to feed her four sons. But today, the sun-loungers on this usually popular beach are mostly empty. “It’s scary to realise that this could go on for another year,” she says, taking in the quiet beach. “This is my income, and the modest savings I have won’t last. I don’t want to go and beg. Everything I earn now goes on food because there hasn’t been a chance to save since we reopened.”
8th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

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It’s official: allotments are good for you – and for your mental health

Jen Anderson managed to grow five “small but tasty” melons in Glasgow this summer, and she is not alone in finding her allotment a godsend during the pandemic. For the four years she has owned it, she says, it has “absolutely 100%” made her happier. Her experience tallies with a study by academics at the University of Sheffield, published last week, which outlines the wellbeing benefits of allotment gardening. The 163 volunteers recorded “high levels of social and community activities, including the sharing of surplus food produce, knowledge exchange, awareness and interaction with wildlife, emotional connection to their allotment, appreciation of time spent outside and aesthetic delight in the natural world”.
8th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 prompts UK call for statutory paid bereavement leave

People who lose a close relative or partner should be entitled to two weeks’ statutory paid bereavement leave, the Sue Ryder charity has said. The coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus the current rules, under which employers are only obliged to grant bereavement leave to parents who have lost a child. Sue Ryder says that extending the requirement would give people space to grieve and alleviate some of the pressure they feel, particularly benefitting those in low-income jobs. People in low-income jobs often are less likely to be offered bereavement leave, and research has found they are at higher risk of experiencing ongoing grief because of the higher relative impact of financial losses and the fact that they face more barriers in accessing services to help them cope.
9th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Can I still go fishing during coronavirus lockdown?

Anglers will be able to continue with their sport during lockdown, which started across England on Thursday. The national governing body representing all game, coarse and sea anglers in England, Angling Trust, is urging people to: "Fish safely, locally and respect the ‘rule of two’ during lockdown." Those who enjoy spending time on the banks of waters are being trusted by Government to respect the restrictions tied-in with fishing's continuance, as they were as the first to enjoy recreational activity again after spring's lockdown when many newcomers were attracted to the sport.
7th Nov 2020 - Lancashire Telegraph

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Coronavirus: Human rights watchdog investigating impact of COVID-19 on BAME healthcare workers

Britain's human rights watchdog is investigating the impact of coronavirus on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) healthcare workers. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it will consider the "structural issues which have left people from a range of ethnic minorities at greater risk" from coronavirus across England, Scotland and Wales. It comes after a study commissioned by London mayor Sadiq Khan last month found that black people are at almost twice the risk of dying from COVID-19 as their white counterparts.
5th Nov 2020 - Sky News

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Mass exodus of students is expected as lockdown starts

Students in cities across England could begin a mass exodus back to their families ahead of new lockdown measures coming into force on Thursday. Hilary Gyebi-Ababio, National Union of Students vice president for higher education, said students were "really wanting to go home". "There's a sense there could be a mass exodus," she told the BBC. It comes after Universities Minister Michelle Donelan urged students, in a letter on Monday, not to "rush home". Her message aimed to prevent these young people from travelling across the country to their families and potentially taking coronavirus with them, thus fuelling the pandemic.
4th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Students looking ahead to teacher placements in `Covid classrooms'

Student teachers will face a very different experience to their predecessors this year when they undertake their first teaching practice in Covid classrooms. Here, two young trainees share their thoughts. A new generation of Northern Ireland's young teachers believes it will be uniquely equipped to take on the classrooms of tomorrow. As this year's student teachers head out to schools for their teaching practice, they'll face not only the challenges of those placements, but the added complications of the Covid classroom too.
4th Nov 2020 - The Irish News

Londoners hit the town one last time before new lockdown

Londoners shrugged off a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and flocked to pubs and restaurants on Wednesday night, hours before the introduction of a new month-long lockdown across England. While the UK’s death toll from the coronavirus rose on Wednesday by 492, the most since mid-May, London’s Soho entertainment district was busy with revellers seeking one last night out before lockdown. People will be ordered to stay at home from 0001 GMT on Thursday to combat a surge in new infections that scientists say could, if unchecked, cause more deaths than a first wave that forced a three-month lockdown earlier this year.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

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The truckers who keep India's coronavirus patients breathing

Subhas Kumar Yadav has fought fear, deadlines and hunger to truck liquid oxygen from a factory in India’s Himalayan foothills to hospitals in the northern plains during the coronavirus epidemic. The worst time, he said, was in the weeks after the federal government imposed a sweeping lockdown to contain the disease in late March, when roads were deserted, police made arbitrary checks and roadside restaurants, repair shops and motels were shuttered. But the oxygen he was carrying was saving the lives of thousands of those infected. “We were on duty,” said the 33-year-old driver with Linde India Ltd, an affiliate of the world’s largest supplier of industrial gases, Linde Plc. “It’s not like we could just give up and go home.”
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Students defy guidance and race home before lockdown in England

Students are defying government guidance that they should stay at university throughout lockdown to make a last-minute dash home before the new restrictions kick in across England on Thursday. The universities minister, Michelle Donelan, has written to students urging them to stay put. After a challenging first term, during which thousands of students have already had to lock down and self-isolate as a result of Covid outbreaks, many have decided to leave campus. With continuing uncertainty about what might happen over Christmas and the majority of learning now online, they plan to continue their studies at home during lockdown without fear of being trapped at university over the holiday.
3rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Melbourne to honour 'community heroes' who stood up during lockdown

The long months of lockdown caused fear, anxiety and isolation across Melbourne, but they also sparked an outpouring of community kindness. Take Alex Dekker, for example. When the pandemic struck, Mr Dekker was a 20-year-old global studies student at Monash University, intent on pursuing a career in academia. His sister Pietra, a first-year doctor working on coronavirus wards, was so busy at work she was getting by on muesli bars. So Mr Dekker made her a few lasagnas. Then he announced on his Facebook page that he would make lasagnas for other healthcare workers and their families.
3rd Nov 2020 - The Age

Halloween parade in Wuhan draws huge crowd as city continues to recover from Covid-19 lockdown

Halloween revellers in the central Chinese city of Wuhan flocked to the Happy Valley amusement park to watch a parade on October 29, 2020. The celebrations took place months after the city that was the initial epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to recover from a strict lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus that causes the disease.
2nd Nov 2020 - South China Morning Post

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Kids Are Participating in COVID-19 Vaccine Trials. Here's What Their Parents Think

Katelyn Evans, 16, has never met Randy Kerr—and there’s no reason she should have. It was 66 years ago that Kerr, then 6, became briefly famous, receiving the first injection of Jonas Salk’s experimental polio vaccine during the massive field trial of hundreds of thousands of children in the spring of 1954. History notes that the vaccine worked, and the children who stepped forward to receive either the actual shot or a placebo were heroically dubbed the Polio Pioneers.
2nd Nov 2020 - Time on MSN.com

Students told not to rush home for lockdown

Universities say students in England should not move home for the lockdown - even if courses are switched to being taught online. They do not want a rush of students leaving universities as the new restrictions come into force this week. But the National Union of Students says students should have a choice to go home safely ahead of the lockdown. The government's guidance says universities should consider putting teaching online where possible. Universities UK says students should stay in their current accommodation and a mix of face-to-face and online teaching will continue through the lockdown.
2nd Nov 2020 - BBC News

Fresh lockdowns fuel angry protests as Covid-19 cases climb across Europe

Anger and exasperation over new coronavirus curbs grew Sunday as European nations wound back the clocks to the spring with fresh lockdowns and restrictions aimed at halting galloping infections and deaths. Protesters in several Spanish cities clashed with security forces for a second night running Saturday, police said, while England prepared for fresh stay-at-home orders, following in the steps of Austria, France and Ireland. European governments are desperate to stem the worrying spike in infections on the continent which has registered more than 279,000 deaths since the new coronavirus first emerged in China at the end of 2019.
2nd Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24 English

‘Tragedy in the making’: Charities warn rough sleepers will have no protection during second lockdown

Charities are warning of a “tragedy in the making” due to the lack of measures in place to protect rough sleepers during the second lockdown. Ministers are being urged to re-introduce a scheme that housed homeless people during the first months of the pandemic, amid warnings that without urgent action, people will be forced to either sleep in the cold or take refuge in night shelters where social distancing is impossible. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the government has moved nearly 30,000 homeless people into emergency, self-contained accommodation, including hotels, under what has been termed the “Everyone In” scheme.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Independent

In Italy, Like Everywhere the Virus Goes, It’s the Discontent That’s Contagious

When the coronavirus first hit Italy, overwhelming the country’s hospitals and prompting the West’s first lockdown, Italians inspired the world with their resilience and civic responsibility, staying home and singing on their balconies. Their reward for months of quarantine was a flattened curve, a gulp of normalcy and the satisfaction of usually patronizing allies pointing to Italy as a model. Italy is now a long way away from those balcony days and its summer fling with freedom. Instead, as a second wave of the virus engulfs Europe and triggers new nationwide lockdowns, Italy has become emblematic of a despair, exhaustion and fear that is spreading throughout the Continent.
1st Nov 2020 - The New York Times

Amid COVID-19, Portugal’s ethnic minorities feel heavily policed

According to Pina, the PSP police officers said they had been sent by the DGS (Portugal’s National Health Office, responsible for deciding COVID-19 public health measures) because she was selling beer, which is currently only permitted in Portugal after 8pm if accompanied by food. Another reason often given for mandatory closures is that cafes allow people to gather in large groups. But here, as in many neighbourhoods in the suburbs of Lisbon, residents feel they are not being treated equally to people in the rest of the city. “If you go down the road to the white neighbourhoods you’ll see the cafes are full of people drinking, sitting in groups, playing cards for example,” says José Sinho Baessa da Pina, a community organiser from Casal da Boba. “They treat us completely differently up here. It’s like they’re not here to protect us – they’re here to provoke us.”
2nd Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

UK's Nigel Farage set to relaunch Brexit Party as anti-lockdown party

Nigel Farage, the British politician who helped force a Brexit referendum and successfully campaigned to leave the European Union, will fight Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 lockdown by recasting his small Brexit Party as Reform UK. Cast by his supporters as the godfather of Brexit, Farage said Johnson had terrified the United Kingdom into submission over COVID-19 and squandered vast amounts of taxpayers’ money while holding out hopes of a “miraculous” vaccine. “What we’ve seen in this pandemic I think is a total failure of leadership at almost every level,” Brexit Party leader Farage told Talk Radio from Pennsylvania. “What about the millions of people out there running their own businesses? This second lockdown is the death knell economically for many of those people,” Farage said.
1st Nov 2020 - Reuters

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Victoria's coronavirus lockdown might be finally be over, but we are still deeply divided

It shouldn't be surprising that in the midst of a pandemic we still find ourselves mired in politics. I suppose the stakes are too high for us not to be: The hardship, the loss of life, the preventable deaths, the economic destruction, the psychological toll. But let's be blunt for a moment — Daniel Andrews plays a mean game of chicken. The Victorian Premier, with his health officials, has pursued a virus-reduction strategy that has put him in the political crosshairs for months.
31st Oct 2020 - ABC News

Three in four more worried about impact of lockdown than catching coronavirus, poll finds

Almost three in four people are more concerned about the impact of lockdown. The results come from a poll of 2,000 adults by the Recovery group. Recovery put forward its 'five reasonable demands' as they call for ministers to balance the need to tackle Covid with the impact its policies are having
31st Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Amazon drops French Black Friday ad campaign as lockdown starts

Amazon is withdrawing advertising for pre-Black Friday discounts in France, after the government said the campaign was unfair to small shops at time when a coronavirus lockdown has forced them to close. France entered its second national lockdown on Friday to try to contain a surge in infections. The curbs imposed under it include the closure of non-essential stores. A spokeswoman for Amazon AMZN.O said the group had agreed to halt its radio advertising campaign around pre-Black Friday sales. A page with discounted items under the header “Black Friday ahead of time” was live on its French website on Saturday, however.
31st Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

The long shadow of racism in medicine leaves Black Americans wary of a COVID-19 vaccine

As the coronavirus pandemic has progressed, and the need for a vaccine has become more urgent and apparent, the number of Americans who say they would take such a vaccine keeps falling. In particular, Black Americans — who have been among those hit hardest by the pandemic — are resistant to the idea. A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that only 27 percent of Black Americans and 46 percent of white Americans plan to get a coronavirus vaccine if and when one becomes available. The perceived politicization of the vaccine process and unprecedented pace of Operation Warp Speed has led to doubts nationwide. Until very recently, President Trump was predicting that a vaccine could arrive ahead of Election Day, Nov. 3, contradicting members of his own coronavirus task force, who have repeatedly given less optimistic time frames that have turned out to be more realistic.
30th Oct 2020 - Yahoo News UK

Coronavirus lockdown rules have led to relatives refusing to speak to each other, research finds

One in 12 people is no longer speaking to a friend or family member because of disagreements about the pandemic. When and how the UK should emerge from lockdown restrictions has divided not only the nation but also families and friends – even leading to some relatives refusing to talk to each other, research has revealed. People who rely on social media for coronavirus information are more likely to have been involved in confrontations and reports to the authorities over lockdown rules, the study by King’s College London (KCL) and Ipsos Mori also found. They are at least five times as likely to say they have been reported and four times as likely to have been confronted for not wearing a face covering. A small minority have challenged others about following the rules too carefully, the researchers found, and one in 12 is no longer speaking to a friend or family member because of disagreements about the pandemic.
29th Oct 2020 - iNews

Little Recognition and Less Pay: These Female Healthcare Workers Are Rural India's First Defense Against COVID-19

India’s ASHA program is likely the world’s largest army of all-female community health workers. They are the foot soldiers of the country’s health system. Established in 2005, a key focus of the program was reducing maternal and infant deaths, so all recruits are women. They have also played an essential role in India’s efforts to eradicate polio and increase immunization, according to numerous studies. But even as health authorities have leaned on ASHAs to quell the spread of COVID-19 in rural areas, where a substantial number of new cases have been reported, many of these health care workers say the government is failing them. Pay was meager to begin with, but some workers have reported not being paid for months. Their hours have increased dramatically, but pay rises, when they have come, have not reflected the increased demands. Many ASHAs have also complained about not being provided adequate protective equipment for their high-risk work.
28th Oct 2020 - TIME

Machu Picchu reopens after eight month Covid closure

Machu Picchu, the ancient city high in the Andes mountains, has reopened after nearly eight months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Peruvian authorities organised an Incan ritual to thank the gods on Sunday as the major tourist attraction once again allowed visitors.
31st Oct 2020 - BBC News

The Leeds bakery that gave away 200 meals to families struggling to feed children

Taking over a successful family business right before a pandemic would be enough to make anybody anxious. But Samantha Atkin is somehow unflappable. In Bramley, a suburb of Leeds, the 28-year-old runs Carol’s Confectioners, a bakery and sandwich shop that specialises in Jewish bread. It is one of the many cafes, pubs and restaurants that offered free meals to children during the half-term holidays. “We watched it on the news and there was just absolutely no way, in the position we’re in, to not make a sandwich for a child,” Atkin said.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

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Sanofi and GSK to provide COVID-19 vaccine doses to COVAX Facility

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have signed a statement of intent with Gavi to provide 200 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine available to the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is a global risk-sharing mechanism aim at securing COVID-19 vaccines for equitable distribution. The doses of Sanofi and GSK’s adjuvanted recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine will be used to support COVAX’s ambition to ensure successful shots reach those in need, once they obtain the appropriate approvals. “To address a global health crisis of this magnitude, it takes unique partnerships. The commitment we are announcing today for the COVAX Facility can help us together stand a better chance of bringing the pandemic under control,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur.
29th Oct 2020 - PharmaTimes

Coronavirus France: Gridlock as people flee Paris before lockdown

Thousands of Parisians caused massive traffic jams as they tried to flee the French capital for the country. Huge numbers of locals attempted a mass exodus in a bid to avoid the start of the second national lockdown. Many were enjoying their final night of freedom in France ahead of new lockdown restrictions from Friday Draconian measures will see people needing documents to show their reasonable excuse for leaving home. Europe has seen rising infections, with France recording 47,637 new infections in 24 hours and 235 deaths
30th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Protect nature or face deadlier pandemics than COVID-19, scientists warn

Pandemics will emerge more often, spread faster, cost more and kill more people than COVID-19 without bold action to halt the habitat destruction that helps viruses hop from wildlife to humans, according to a study published on Thursday. The findings www.ipbes.net/pandemics suggest that moves to protect tropical forests and other rich ecosystems to help slow climate change and save animal, bird and plant species could also prevent pandemics. “It turns out that by doing something about pandemics we are also doing something about climate change and biodiversity, and that’s a good thing,” Peter Daszak, a zoologist who chaired the study by 22 international experts, told Reuters. The group found that about half of an estimated 1.7 million undiscovered viruses in nature might be able to infect people.
29th Oct 2020 - Reuters

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Lockdown in paradise: how the Seychelles is reopening to visitors

Darting through the opal-blue water of Anse Source d’Argent is a riot of silver fish; their puckered lips pecking at the mounds of blushing coral beneath me. A pale moray eel slithers past, flashing a toothy grin. As the warm waves lap over my back, I revel in this quiet, watery world. Praslin Island in the Seychelles couldn’t feel further from the grey UK or, indeed, the events of this year. With only 153 cases of coronavirus recorded since the start of the pandemic and zero deaths, the Seychelles has recently been added by the Foreign Office to the travel corridor list, meaning visitors from Britain don’t have to quarantine on their return. Direct flights there have resumed. It’s good news for those desperate for respite
28th Oct 2020 - The Times

Three Covid-19 Success Stories

Yet there are also reasons for cautious optimism. I’d like to highlight three recent success stories. 1) Disney World in Florida has operated for 3 months safely. An October 9, 2020 story in the New York Times reported that, “As tumultuous as the three months since the reopening have been, however, public health officials and Disney World’s unions say there have been no coronavirus outbreaks among workers or guests. So far, Disney’s wide-ranging safety measures appear to be working.”
28th Oct 2020 - Forbes

Midnight revelry in Melbourne as lockdown ends, eager diners say it 'feels like New Year's Eve'

Melburnians have flocked to bars and restaurants and even Kmart in a celebration of the four-month coronavirus lockdown lifting at midnight. With restrictions still on how many people are allowed in certain venues, bookings were made hours in advance by those eager to finally "get on the beers". And over 10,000 people ahd been through the doors at Kmart since 6am this morning, the group's managing director Ian Bailey told 3AW. "I now officially declare Melbourne restaurants open for business," Angus and Bon steakhouse owner Liam Ganley said as he cut a ribbon to cheers, confetti and applause.
28th Oct 2020 - 9News

US consumers brace for COVID-19 surge by hoarding food – again

American consumers who’ve worked their way through the trove of shelf-stable meals they frantically bought back in March are at it again. This time, food makers are prepared. General Mills Inc., the maker of Cheerios and Annie’s boxed mac and cheese, added 45 external production lines through contractors since the first round of pantry loading this spring. Campbell Soup Co. spent $40 million to expand production of Goldfish crackers and is building capacity for chip brands like Cape Cod. Conagra Brands Inc. boosted third-party manufacturing and warehousing, while Stonyfield Farm, a producer of organic dairy products, is buying more milk from its direct supply network of farms.
28th Oct 2020 - Aljazeera.com

In the UK, young, non-white people likelier to lose jobs: Survey

Twice as many young and non-white British workers have lost their jobs after going on furlough compared with the average, largely because they are more likely to work in sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, a study showed. The Resolution Foundation think-tank said 19 percent of workers aged 18-24 and 22 percent of ethnic minority staff had lost their jobs after being furloughed, compared with 9 percent of employees overall.
28th Oct 2020 - Aljazeera.com

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Cornwall woodworker building free desks for virtual learning students

Besner had heard about kids learning from home not having the proper space and decided to make desks in his small shop. "My wife and I decided that we'd build twenty desks and hand them out to kids who are registered in virtual learning and also for parents who couldn't afford to buy their kids one," he said. "The idea behind it is to get the kids off the kitchen tables, to get them off the couch or get them off their bed where they're laying down and this way they could have their own desk to work on." Besner finished the first 20 desks last week and has started on the next order to build 20 more to be given away, all for free.
27th Oct 2020 - CTV News Ottawa

Ely Museum virtual school visits

During lockdown, lots of people learnt new skills, and the team at Ely Museum were no different - except they decided to tackle virtual time travel to deliver school visits online. Suspecting that visiting schools in person during the autumn term would not be possible, the summer was spent devising a plan. Since then, classrooms have time travelled virtually to explore what life was like for people in Ely as far back as the Stone Age. Thanks to a ‘heritage emergency fund’ grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the museum was able to purchase the necessary equipment to make live-streaming visits possible and began preparation and rehearsals over the summer. 
27th Oct 2020 - Ely Standard

Cities reboot: Adapting to a pandemic world

Downtown is deserted and happy hour is history - the pandemic has upended urban life for billions and futurologists expect a changed cityscape to emerge in the post-viral world. From home to office, park to pub - all corners of city life have undergone some sort of reboot during COVID-19. More than 43 million people have been infected by the virus and the death toll tops 1.1 million, according to a global tally by Johns Hopkins University. After months in lockdown, second waves of the novel coronavirus have forced new travel curbs and a messy mosaic of lockdown laws from Madrid to Melbourne. Experts agree cities will never look the same.
27th Oct 2020 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Covid: Post-furlough unemployment 'hits young and ethnic minorities'

Young and ethnic minority workers were more likely to be made unemployed post-furlough, according to a new report. A survey of about 6,000 adults by the Resolution Foundation found 19% of 18-24 year olds who were furloughed during lockdown were unemployed in September. For black, Asian and minority ethnic workers the figure was 22%, compared to 9% for the general population. The Treasury said its wage support schemes had helped to protect millions of jobs. The government's Job Retention Scheme initially covered up to 80% of an individual's wages if they were placed on furlough and unable to work.
27th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Black participation in covid-19 vaccine trials is key to Black economic recovery

Vaccine trials need Black people. And the Black economic recovery needs a vaccine. The economic downturn from the novel coronavirus has had a staggering financial impact on Blacks. Job losses from the pandemic have overwhelmingly affected low-wage, minority workers. Black men and women are among those taking the longest time to regain their employment. Black Americans account for about 13 percent of the U.S. population but 24 percent of coronavirus deaths, the Pew Research Center reported in June. But when I ask the Black folks I know if they’re going to take a coronavirus vaccine, most without hesitation say, “No, I will not.”
27th Oct 2020 - Washington Post

Global survey shows widespread disapproval of Covid response

People in most of 25 countries around the world think governments and leaders failed to respond either well or fast enough to the coronavirus crisis, a new global survey shows. YouGov’s globalism survey of about 26,000 people in countries from Australia to Sweden, designed with the Guardian and carried out by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project between July and August, before the second wave hit in Europe and elsewhere, showed striking variations in approval for governments’ handling of the pandemic, which has killed nearly 1.1 million people. A record four in five respondents in Denmark, which locked down very early in March as the first wave hit and has managed to limit Covid deaths to 119 per million inhabitants, thought their government had done very or fairly well.
27th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

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C+D joins with COVID-19 trial pharmacy lead to find community recruits

C+D and Professor Mahendra Patel are campaigning together to find 1,000 pharmacies to contribute to an Oxford University COVID-19 clinical trial by signposting suitable patients. In September, Professor Patel was appointed as national black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and pharmacy lead for the PRINCIPLE COVID-19 clinical trial, run by Oxford University. The trial is evaluating whether the use of two common antibiotics, azithromycin and doxycycline can help people with COVID-19 symptoms recover at home, thereby reducing the need for hospital admissions. It is open to people who are aged over 50 with certain underlying health conditions, and to anyone over the age of 65.
26th Oct 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

Boxing Day Test crowd allowed at MCG after Melbourne lockdown ends

A crowd at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test has been all but guaranteed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews as the state’s coronavirus restrictions were significantly eased. Melbourne will start to open up following more than four months in hard lockdown, after no Covid-19 cases were recorded in Victoria on Monday. Cricket Australia is yet to lock in its international schedule for a summer highlighted by a blockbuster four-Test series against India. Premier Andrews said the lifting of restrictions meant it was too late for crowds to attend next month’s Melbourne Cup, but not the biggest day in Australian cricket.
26th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

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Northwich cafe owner offers remote working deal to customers

With the hospitality industry taking a battering this year due to lockdown and further restrictions brought in to combat a rise in coronavirus cases, businesses are having to be creative ways to fill the void. Arabica Caffe, a Northwich coffee shop and cafe located within Gadbrook Business Park, has seen its customer base pretty much vanish since the lockdown was announced in March. For owner Chris Buck, the fact many of the local office workers in the neighbourhood have either been furloughed or are working from home, has led to him offering them a space in his cafe instead.
25th Oct 2020 - Northwich Guardian

How Teachers Can Foster Community in Online Classrooms

The school year is difficult for both teachers and students, to say the least. Some districts are using a hybrid of remote and in-person learning, while others are on Zoom entirely. And that means teachers are stretched thin and unable to build community with their students, and classmates are unable to get to know their peers well. But there are some choices you can make to combat that. Melanie Gottdenger, a New York-based seventh-grade teacher in a selective middle school, says, “Studies show that strong communities produce more holistically successful people—rather than students who can ace a test or become a doctor, education professionals are starting to understand that the humanity in us all is what makes our world better, and proves our ‘success’ as teachers.” These tools can be used in a variety of places, with your class, business, or community.
25th Oct 2020 - WIRED

At 75, I've volunteered for a Covid vaccine trial. It could set people free

There’s a 50% chance that this week I was injected with a vaccine designed to protect me from Covid-19. If not, I got the saltwater placebo instead. I won’t know until the study ends in 13 months, which is a shame. It would be nice to walk the streets without looking balefully around me at young people not wearing masks and thinking: I’m 75, this virus kills people my age. It killed my chum Mike Pentelow, who was having a lot of fun in his retirement, writing books with titles such as A Pub Crawl Through History, and Mike was a year younger than me. Perhaps he’s the reason I volunteered to be a guinea pig for one of the companies working on a vaccine.
24th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

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Foreign tourism shutdown supports Russia's struggling economy amid COVID-19

Russia’s economy could benefit by up to $30 billion this year from Russians spending their roubles at home rather than on foreign holidays due to travel restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, economists say. The estimates are a rare piece of good news for an economy battered by low global oil prices as well as coronavirus lockdowns. Russia ran a budget deficit of around $23 billion in the first nine months of this year. Like many other countries, Russia also saw foreign tourists stay away in droves in 2020. But it sent far fewer travellers overseas than usual after closing its borders in March. The outflow in some cases fell by as much as 80%.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Indian garment workers cover bosses' lockdown losses

From unpaid overtime to wage cuts, Indian garment workers say they are being made to compensate their bosses for the food, shelter and salary provided in the coronavirus lockdown. But it is a steep price for a workforce that was already juggling low pay and poor conditions before the pandemic shuttered their factories and strangulated orders. Workers say they are being offered the choice of less money or working extra shifts for free to pay back their bosses, who dangle the threat of unemployment if employees refuse.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters India

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Sir David Attenborough says Covid-19 is 'threat to environment'

Sir David Attenborough said the Covid-19 pandemic was a threat to the environment as politicians deal with the crisis instead of climate change. The naturalist and broadcaster expressed his fears to environmental activist Greta Thunberg at a virtual wildlife film festival in Bristol. The 94-year-old said Thunberg had given the world hope by energising young people to fight for the environment. The teenager also praised Sir David's new film A Life On Our Planet. Sir David said several international climate conferences had been cancelled because of Covid-19. "I am worried that people will take their eyes off the environmental issue because of the immediate problems they have on Covid-19," he said.
21st Oct 2020 - BBC News

U of T alumni design AI platform to gauge student understanding in virtual classrooms

A new software platform, created by two University of Toronto alumni, aims to make virtual classrooms more functional by providing real-time feedback and specific insights into how student understanding of mathematics is changing. Last March, Nived Kollanthara, an alumnus of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, was living in New York City, where he volunteered part-time at a shelter, helping kids with their math homework. When the pandemic hit, he realized right away the impact it would have. “The kids I work with need extra, individual attention to help them succeed in the classroom,” Kollanthara says. “I was worried about how they would be getting that in a remote environment.” Kollanthara spoke with teachers and learned that one of the first things that gets lost in virtual learning is real-time feedback, which provides a window into student understanding.
21st Oct 2020 - News@UofT

Research to understand COVID-19 spread on public transport

A major scientific study has been launched to understand the risks of COVID-19 transmission on buses and trains - and to identify the best measures to control it. Led by the University of Leeds and with support from the Department for Transport and several transport organisations, the investigation will involve taking air and surface samples on parts of the transport network to measure background levels of the coronavirus. The researchers will develop detailed simulations of the way the virus could potentially spread through airflow, from touching contaminated surfaces and from being close to someone infected with the virus.
21st Oct 2020 - University of Leeds

Socioeconomic factors drive COVID risks for minorities - UK govt report

The increased risk to ethnic minorities from COVID-19 is largely driven by factors such as living circumstances and profession and not the genetics of different groups or structural racism, a report into racial disparities from the pandemic has found. Several studies have shown a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities, and the British government in June promised further work to look into the causes of the disparities. But the dynamics of whether certain groups are more likely to contract the virus to start with due to external factors, or are more susceptible to it once exposed, have been unclear.
21st Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

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Mask Mandate? In a Montana Town, It ‘Puts Us at Odds With Customers’

Outside River Rising Bakery sits an older gentleman, his face uncovered. He’s here every morning, greeting customers as he drinks his coffee and reads. Inside, people mill about, waiting to order. A group of moms chat at a corner table. The employees wear masks, but patrons are not required to. Most don’t. It feels almost normal. As if the pandemic had never happened. Half a block away in Hamilton, at Big Creek Coffee Roasters, most customers don’t go inside; instead they wait to order at a makeshift to-go window. There are a lot of strollers and Lululemon tights, and most people in the line are wearing a mask. If anyone did go inside, wearing one would be mandatory.
19th Oct 2020 - The New York Times

‘EdTech companies will change the way kids learn’

With money invested in India’s education technology startups increasing nearly four times to $1.5 billion in the first nine months of 2020 as compared to $409 million in entire 2019
20th Oct 2020 - Times of India

Docu Meme highlights unseen victims of coronavirus pandemic in Japan

As the number of novel coronavirus infections continues to grow, so do the stigmas and stereotypes associated with certain segments of Japan’s population, be they caregivers, entertainment-district workers, foreign residents, students or the unemployed and homeless. Adrift in the torrent of issues that have come out of the pandemic, many people are finding it difficult to be heard and receive the support they need. Out of this landscape emerged Docu Meme, an independent collective of documentary creators — Naoki Uchiyama, Itaru Matsui and Toru Kubota — who are on a mission to shed light on those who have been neglected or even rejected by society during the pandemic. Similar to viral images found on the internet, the group wants its documentary shorts to travel widely and convey as efficiently as possible the plight of voiceless people in Japan.
20th Oct 2020 - The Japan Times

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Surf lifeguards 'expecting huge crowds' at beaches during post-lockdown summer

Ahead of the patrol season starting this long weekend, there are concerns resources will be tested more than ever with many beachgoers eager to hit the water. “The fact that we're not travelling overseas, we are expecting huge crowds on the beaches,” Surf Lifesaving New Zealand’s search and rescue manager Allan Mundy told 1 NEWS. Complicating things further, international lifeguards who often bring experience to patrols on the country’s busiest coastlines won’t be allowed in due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, officials have been working with their international counterparts in Britain, the United States and Australia to learn how they’re keeping beaches under control during the pandemic. “Their public were choosing to swim on beaches that people had never swum on before and that was a real risk because they didn't have any lifeguard cover,” Mundy said.
19th Oct 2020 - 1News

Serum Institute has begun manufacturing intranasal Covid vaccine: Harsh Vardhan

While there are three vaccine candidates against Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) being tested on humans in India, there is no intranasal vaccine candidate under trial currently, said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday. However, he also said that Serum Institute of India was manufacturing an intranasal vaccine candidate. The minister also said that Bharat Biotech has also entered in an agreement with Washington University School of Medicine to conduct trials to produce and market an intranasal vaccine
19th Oct 2020 - Hindustan Times

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Hundreds queue in Yiwu, China for experimental Covid-19 vaccine

A city in eastern China has started offering a coronavirus vaccine to the general public - although it has not yet completed clinical trials. Hundreds of people have been queuing outside a hospital in Yiwu, where nurses are administering the injections for a fee of around $60 (£45).
18th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Researchers hope Covid-19 testing programme developed in Norwich could be used across country

Scientists in Norwich who helped develop a Covid-19 testing programme are hoping to roll it out to other academic institutions. The Norwich Testing Initiative (NTI) was developed on the city's research park, and was a collaboration between the Earlham Institute, University of East Anglia, The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, the John Innes Centre, the Quadram Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory. The project was designed to identify the resources, facilities and expertise needed to run a regular testing programme on people not displaying symptoms. The Office for National Statistics has estimated that as many as 80% of cases are asymptomatic or presymptomatic. it was hoped the NTI would help keep prevent rapid virus spread.
18th Oct 2020 - ITV News

Residents go for voluntary lockdown in Jaisalmer dist

Looking at the increasing Covid-19 cases, the general public has come up with voluntary lockdowns. In Nachana, a two-day successful voluntary close took place on Friday and Saturday while residents in Lathi have decided to go for a three-day voluntary lockdown from Sunday to Tuesday.
18th Oct 2020 - Times of India

Scientists worry whether COVID-19 vaccine will make a difference with 51 percent saying won't take

'Operation Warp Speed' aims to deliver 300 million doses of a vaccine to Americans by January 2021. Hundreds of vaccines are in the pre-clinical testing phase, but only four are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials and some of them have run into problems. More than half of Americans in a recent poll say they won't get a shot High-profile personalities such as Elon Musk have also said they will not be taking the vaccine. It has fed the growth of the anti-vaxxer movement with many deciding not to take the jab along political party lines. Scientists worry that if fewer than 70 percent of the population receive the injection, herd immunity will not be reached and its effectiveness will be lost
18th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

The Coronavirus Slayers: Meet The Female Leaders On India’s Covid-19 Frontline

KK Shailaja makes for an unlikely national hero. But the bespectacled, sari-clad, 63-year-old minister of health and social justice – and former science teacher – was an early beacon in India, thanks to her foresight and fast thinking in preparing her state, Kerala, for the pandemic. It is thanks to the quick intervention of the Coronavirus Slayer (as she became known in the Indian press) that the state still has such low mortality rates from Covid-19. In June, Shailaja was recognised for her efforts by the UN.
18th Oct 2020 - VogueUK

Coronavirus: Only around 1/3 of French respondents would take COVID-19 vaccine, Euronews poll shows

Only little more than a third of French respondents would take a low-cost COVID-19 vaccine, a Euronews-commissioned survey has revealed. France is among the worst-hit countries in Europe from the disease, with more than 33,000 deaths as of October 16. But just 37% of French people questioned would take a low-cost vaccine if it came available in the next year. This compares starkly to several of France's neighbours, where a majority say they would get vaccinated. Respondents in the United Kingdom were keenest, with 63% backing vaccination, followed by Germany (57%) and Italy (55%).
16th Oct 2020 - Euronews

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Fauci warns Americans to rethink Thanksgiving amid coronavirus surge

Anthony Fauci warned on Thursday that Americans should rethink their usual plans for traditional Thanksgiving gatherings, citing increased coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. Fauci, the most senior public health official on the White House coronavirus taskforce, told ABC News that given the rise in cases in almost three dozen US states, “we’ve really got to double down on fundamental public health measures that we talk about every day, because they can make a difference”.
15th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Helen Salisbury: Older lives are not worth less

If you’re lucky, age brings wisdom and leisure, but for many it means illness, frustration, and failing bodies. “I’m sorry to be such a nuisance, doctor,” older patients often tell me. I reassure them that they’re not a nuisance and that, if they didn’t trouble me with their ailments, I’d be out of a job. While a few patients stockpile medication, others worry about “bankrupting the NHS” and try to avoid any treatment that’s not strictly necessary. I try to explain that they’ve already paid for the care and medicines they now need, through a lifetime of taxes.
13th Oct 2020 - The BMJ

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Emergency coronavirus recovery grants issued to West Sussex arts, culture and heritage sites

Theatres, museums, music venues and heritage sites across West Sussex have received thousands of pounds worth of emergency funding to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.
14th Oct 2020 - Worthing Herald

Americans tend to think children should be allowed to trick-or-treat despite COVID-19

Halloween may look different this year, but many Americans still intend to celebrate. Data from YouGov finds that 33% of US adults intend to celebrate Halloween by watching a spooky movie, while 28% say they’ll decorate their house and/or carve a pumpkin. About one-quarter (26%) of Americans plan to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters this year, while slightly fewer intend to wear a costume (19%), go to a party (12%), or go trick-or-treating (11%) themselves. About three in 10 (31%) don’t intend to do any of the above activities, and 4% aren’t sure of their Halloween plans.
14th Oct 2020 - YouGov US

Tell us how COVID-19 is affecting your commute in new survey series

How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your commute? The Division of Administration is conducting a series of surveys designed to gain a better understanding of commuter attitudes and behaviors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey results will inform mobility and transportation efforts on campus and scholarly research at the university. The surveys are for members of the Vanderbilt University community who currently commute to campus for work or study, as well as those currently working or studying remotely. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
14th Oct 2020 - Vanderbilt University News

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Study: There's work to be done before people feel ready for COVID-19 vaccine

A new study indicates some significant public messaging should be communicated before any COVID-19 vaccines are made available in the US. And with vaccines potentially being approved by the end of the year or early next year, the clock is ticking. The report, published in the journal Vaccines, shows that 68% of respondents are supportive of being vaccinated for COVID-19, but concerns remain about side effects, sufficient vaccine testing and vaccine effectiveness. "Messages promoting the COVID-19 vaccine need to alleviate the concerns of those who are already vaccine-hesitant," said senior study author Brian Poole, a professor of microbiology and molecular biology at Brigham Young University
13th Oct 2020 - EurekAlert!

Poor numerical literacy linked to greater susceptibility to Covid-19 fake news

People with poor numerical literacy are more likely to believe Covid-19 misinformation, according to a survey conducted in five countries. Researchers at Cambridge University said the findings suggested improving people’s analytical skills could help turn the tide against an epidemic of “fake news” surrounding the health crisis. Five national surveys – reflecting national quotas for age and gender – were conducted this year to evaluate susceptibility to coronavirus-related misinformation and its influence on key health-related behaviours. The study found the most consistent predictor of decreased susceptibility to misinformation about Covid-19 was numerical literacy – the ability to digest and apply quantitative information broadly.
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Facebook to ban ads that discourage vaccines

Facebook will start banning advertisements that discourage people from getting vaccinated, the social media company said, as it also announced a new flu vaccine information campaign. The United States-based company said in a blog post on Tuesday that ads advocating for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines, including a COVID-19 vaccine, would still be allowed.
13th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

A Dose of Optimism, as the Pandemic Rages On

On March 16, back when White House news conferences were still deemed safe to attend, President Trump stood before reporters and announced that drastic nationwide restrictions — in schools, work places, our social lives — were needed to halt the coronavirus. The guidelines, “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” were accompanied by a grim chart. Based on a prominent model by London’s Imperial College, the chart illustrated with a sinuous blue line how many Americans might die if nothing were done to protect the public’s health. The line rose sharply as the estimated deaths went up, then drifted slowly down until finally, at the far right end of the graph, the number of new cases reached zero. Our national nightmare would end by October 2020 — that is, right about now. Along the way, if no action was taken, about 2.2 million Americans would die. Dr. Deborah Birx, one of Mr. Trump’s science advisers, referred to the graph as “the blue mountain of deaths.”
12th Oct 2020 - The New York Times

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How to make the hybrid workforce model work

Even before the coronavirus pandemic made homeworking commonplace, Automattic’s 1,277-workforce was entirely remote, with perks that include reimbursing expenses to set up workers’ home offices. Yet despite its remote ethos, the group, which owns and operates web design company WordPress, does not expect its employees to work in isolation every day. It offers a monthly stipend to be used towards co-working spaces (day passes or ongoing membership) or coffee shops (WiFi costs, coffees). The social highlight of the year is the GM — or Grand Meet-up — where staff from 76 countries speaking 95 different languages, get together for a week of keynote sessions, workshops, team sessions, socialising focused on strategy, learning and team bonding. Employees are encouraged to eat with different colleagues every night to meet people outside their teams.
12th Oct 2020 - Financial Times

The coronavirus pandemic: A threat to food security

For years, the Global Hunger Index has shown global advances in combating malnutrition. But the coronavirus pandemic could undo them, according to the latest report for German aid organization Welthungerhilfe.
12th Oct 2020 - DW (English)

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Selling flowers out of her VW Beetle helps Rio woman survive COVID-19