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Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Jan 2021

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Four in five over-80s have had first COVID-19 jab despite weekend slump in vaccinations

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said on 25 February that 78.7% of people aged over 80 have now received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine - up from 60% around a week ago. UK-wide there are 3.3m people aged over 80 - suggesting that around 2.6m in this cohort have had at least one dose of vaccine. Of the 6.6m total first-dose COVID-19 jabs administered UK-wide to date, around 40% have gone to over-80s. NHS officials have said around three quarters of jabs in England have been administered by GP-led local vaccination sites.
26th Jan 2021 - GP online

Cloth Masks May Look Better, But They Don’t Work Better

Howard is the lead author and Tufekci a co-author of an influential and extremely informative “evidence review on face masks against Covid-19” that has been making the rounds since April and was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper concludes that cloth masks may be similarly effective to disposable ones in reducing the chances that a mask wearer with Covid-19 will infect others, because they catch most of the virus-laden droplets that wearers expel when they cough or sneeze or talk. But when virus-laden droplets do make it out into the air, and — as is especially wont to happen in cold, dry winter weather — most of the moisture evaporates, leaving “aerosolized” particles that can float around for hours, disposable medical masks seem to do a better job than cloth ones of keeping them out. The single-biggest piece of evidence for this comes from one of the rare randomized controlled trials of cloth-mask use, which was conducted in 2011 and published in the British Medical Association journal BMJ Open in 2015.
26th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Jan 2021

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Bulgaria will have all travellers entering the country take Covid-19 test

On Monday, the health minister of Bulgaria announced that they will make all the travellers coming in the country, take a Covid-19 test in order to curb the spread of the new strain of coronavirus. Bulgaria will make everyone coming into the country take Covid-19 tests to stop the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, health minister Kostandin Angelov said on Monday. Bulgarian health authorities say they have so far recorded eight cases of the new variant that was first identified in Britain. "Today we will undertake actions to make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers that want to enter the country, including from the European Union," Angelov told a government meeting. The country has seen a significant drop in new infections in recent weeks and is planning to ease some restrictions and reopen secondary schools, shopping malls and gyms from February 4.
25th Jan 2021 - Hindustan Times

Medical-grade masks now mandatory in Austria

Medical-grade FFP2 face masks are now mandatory in Austria for people aged over 14 on public transport, shops and businesses, pharmacies, as well as hospitals or medical practices. Austria is among the first European countries to make FFP2 masks mandatory. The measure has largely been accepted without complaint, despite controversy over other measures, such as the closing of schools while ski lifts remain open. Though often sold for more than €5 each just a few weeks ago, the masks, which block 94% of aerosols, can now be found at all grocery stores for 59 cent each.
25th Jan 2021 - RTE.ie

Australia halts New Zealand travel bubble amid fears of South African coronavirus strain

The Federal Government has suspended quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders arriving in Australia for 72 hours amid fears of a South African strain of COVID-19 across the Tasman. A New Zealand woman infected with the highly infectious variant of COVID-19 first detected in South Africa visited around 30 sites before her case was detected. Travellers coming from New Zealand to Australia in the next 72 hours will have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine. "This will be done out of an abundance of caution whilst more is learnt about the event and the case," Mr Hunt said.
25th Jan 2021 - ABC.Net.au


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Jan 2021

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Double-Masking: Why Two Masks Are the New Masks

Double-masking is a sensible and easy way to lower your risk, especially if circumstances require you to spend more time around others — like in a taxi, on a train or plane, or at an inauguration. Pete Buttigieg, the former presidential candidate and now the nominee for secretary of transportation, was spotted double-masking. It appears he was wearing a high-quality medical mask underneath a black cloth mask. His husband, Chasten, was sporting a similar double-masked look, but with a fashionable plaid cloth mask that coordinated with his winter scarf. We should all be thinking about the quality of our masks right now. New variants of the coronavirus continue to emerge, and one in particular is cause for pressing concern in the United States because it’s so contagious and spreading fast. I wrote about the steps you can take to better protect yourself.
24th Jan 2021 - The New York Times

A proactive approach to fight SARS-CoV-2 in Germany and Europe

This paper develops a sustainable way to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The strategy presented here aims to avoid new infections, deaths and more nationwide lockdowns. It consists of three core elements: First, a rapid reduction in the number of infections to zero. Second, the avoidance of transmissions/reintroduction of the virus into virus-free green zones through local travel restrictions, tests and quarantines. Third, rigorous outbreak management if new cases occur sporadically
24th Jan 2021 - dortmund.de

Covid: Vaccinated people may spread virus, says Van-Tam

People who have received a Covid-19 vaccine could still pass the virus on to others and should continue following lockdown rules, England's deputy chief medical officer has warned. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam stressed that scientists "do not yet know the impact of the vaccine on transmission". He said vaccines offer "hope" but infection rates must come down quickly. A further 32 vaccine sites are set to open across England this week. Prof Van-Tam said "no vaccine has ever been" 100% effective, so there is no guaranteed protection. It is possible to contract the virus in the two- to three-week period after receiving a jab, he said - and it is "better" to allow "at least three weeks" for an immune response to fully develop in older people.
23rd Jan 2021 - BBC News

Nurses call for higher-grade face masks to protect against new coronavirus strains

Nurse leaders calling for all NHS staff to be given the higher grade of PPE Royal College of Nursing wrote a letter to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) College said was aware that some NHS trusts are using higher grade face masks
23rd Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

COVID-19: Crowds at Heathrow Airport spark social distancing concerns

Crowds at Heathrow Airport have sparked "super spreader" concerns after pictures emerged of a packed departures hall with limited social distancing. Former British ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott posted a photo of Terminal 2 on Friday with the caption: "T2 Heathrow Friday afternoon. No ventilation. Long delays. Super spreading." Pictures and videos of huge queues for passport control have appeared on social media in recent days, despite international travel being largely banned. Britons are only allowed to go abroad for a small number of "legally permitted reasons" during lockdown, with arrivals requiring a negative coronavirus test from the past 72 hours before they are allowed entry.
23rd Jan 2021 - Sky News

Europe’s growing mask ask: Ditch the cloth ones for medical-grade coverings

Faced with new, more contagious, strains of the coronavirus and a winter surge in cases, European nations have begun to tighten mask regulations in the hope that they can slow the spread of the virus. Germany on Tuesday night made it mandatory for people riding on public transport or in supermarkets to wear medical style masks: either N95s, the Chinese or European equivalent KN95 or FFP2s, or a surgical mask. It follows a stricter regulation from the German state of Bavaria this week that required N95 equivalents in stores and on public transport. Austria will introduce the same measures from Monday.
20th Jan 2021 - Washington Post


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Jan 2021

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COVID-19 misinformation: scientists create a ‘psychological vaccine’ to protect against fake news

Anti-vaccination groups are projected to dominate social media in the next decade if left unchallenged. To counter their viral misinformation at a time when COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out, our research team has produced a “psychological vaccine” that helps people detect and resist the lies and hoaxes they encounter online. The World Health Organization expressed concern about a global misinformation “infodemic” in February 2020, recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic would be fought both on the ground and on social media. That’s because an effective vaccine roll out will rely on high vaccine confidence, and viral misinformation can adversely affect that confidence, leading to vaccine hesitancy. We recently published a large study which found that higher belief in misinformation about the virus was consistently associated with a reduced willingness to get vaccinated.
19th Jan 2021 - The Conversation

Follow lockdown rules or face punishment, says UK interior minister

British interior minister Priti Patel warned those who break COVID-19 lockdown rules that they faced punishment by police, announcing a new 800 pound ($1,097.36) fine for those who attend house parties. "My message is clear: If you don't follow these rules, then the police will enforce them," Patel told a news conference. "Police officers are now moving more quickly to hand out fines when they encounter breaches."
21st Jan 2021 - MSN.com

Another 65 pharmacies join COVID-19 vaccination programme

A further 65 pharmacy-led sites will begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations over the coming days, but “many more” pharmacies are keen to offer their service, sector leaders say. The 65 additional sites – which include pharmacy teams operating from a mosque, pop-up Odeon and Village Hotel sites operated by Pharmacy2U and the Manchester Whalley Range Tennis and Cricket Club, run by Wilbraham Pharmacy – join the initial six pharmacies that went live last week (January 14).
21st Jan 2021 - Chemist+Druggist

France may follow Germany in making clinical masks mandatory

Medical-grade face masks rather than cloth coverings could become mandatory in a number of European countries to help contain the rapid spread of highly contagious Covid variants first identified in the UK and South Africa. Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed on Tuesday that either single-use surgical FFP1 masks or more protective FFP2 filtering facepiece respirators should be worn in the workplace, on public transport and in shops.
21st Jan 2021 - The Guardian

New Covid strain: Australian city lifts ban on wearing mask indoors

People living in Australia's third-largest city of Brisbane will no longer need to wear a mask in indoor venues from Friday onwards as the state of Queensland announced that it has managed to bring the local spread of a mutant Covid-19 strain under control. "From 1 am tomorrow we will be back to having amongst the lowest restrictions in our economy in the country - this is great news for business, great news for tourism, and great for the people of Queensland to celebrate," Xinhua news agency quoted the state's Health Minister Yvette D'Ath as saying on Thursday. As of Thursday, Queensland continues to record zero local cases, allowing the authorities to further ease the pandemic restrictions. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk attributed the result to the state's "go hard and go quickly" strategy.
21st Jan 2021 - Khaleej Times on MSN.com


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jan 2021

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Coronavirus vaccine passports will leave bosses on shaky legal ground

With more than four million people in Britain having received a first dose of the Covid vaccine and another ten million or more expected to do so over the next month, there is a clamour for those protected from the virus to be allowed to go about their normal lives. Many businesses, particularly in the transport and travel industries, believe that vaccine passports could offer a way out of restrictions and governments are reviewing the feasibility of such schemes.
20th Jan 2021 - The Times

Biden starts term with COVID actions on masks, support for WHO

The 46th US president, Joe Biden, will make several executive orders today pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, including issuing a mask mandate on federal grounds, reports CNN. Biden will also ask Americans to wear a mask when in public for the next 100 days, and to adhere to physical distancing. He has already set forth a goal of distributing 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the next 100 days. "As you've heard the president-elect say, the pandemic will continue to get worse before it gets better," Jeff Zients, the incoming White House COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters according to the Washington Post. "This is clearly a national emergency and we will treat it as such."
20th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

COVID-19: Plans for daily testing in schools put on hold over worries about accuracy

Plans for daily tests in schools are being halted amid warnings about the accuracy of lateral flow tests. The rapid turnaround tests were due to be used to keep pupils and staff in school if they had come into contact with a positive case.
20th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Israel extends Covid lockdown despite vaccination drive

The Israeli government decided Tuesday to extend the country's coronavirus lockdown to the end of the month after a spike in infections, despite an intensive vaccination campaign. Israel began its third lockdown in late December and tightened it on January 8, with officials saying at the time it would be lifted after two weeks if the daily caseload decreased sufficiently. Since the rollout of vaccinations one month ago, the Jewish state had innoculated more than 2.2 million of its nine million inhabitants, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday.
20th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Jan 2021

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Wearing face masks DOES stop spread of Covid-19 and reduces R rate

US researchers gave a questionnaire to more than 300,000 people in 50 states Increase of 10% in people wearing masks makes it 3x more likely R is less than 1 Experts add that wearing a mask does not mean social distancing is not needed
19th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

US needs national COVID 'smart testing' strategy, APHL says

As the United States starts off 2021 with COVID-19 vaccines as well as variants, the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) reasserts the importance of strategic COVID-19 testing strategies with a report published late last week. In the report, "Smart Testing for Optimizing Pandemic Response," the group recommends a coordinated national approach, supply chain management, and a focus on using test results as a means to improve public health surveillance.
19th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

How to reduce the risk of catching Covid-19 when travelling by car

Experts outline the best way to prevent coronavirus infection when sharing a car Sanitising high touch-points and sticking to essential travel only are also advised Government currently prohibits travel with other people with some exceptions
19th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

International arrivals to New Zealand must return negative Covid test before flight

New Zealand has imposed a blanket testing regime for all flights arriving internationally, with passengers now required to return a negative Covid test result before departure. The Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, said while New Zealand already had tight border controls in place, the rising number of cases around the globe meant further protections were called for. Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands will be exempt from the new requirement. “As we signalled last week, given the high rates of infection in many countries, most global air routes are of critical concern for the foreseeable future,” Hipkins said.
19th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

New Zealand women taking leap into entrepreneurship during Covid-19 era

Many women are starting their own small businesses after a wave of Covid-19-related redundancies, according to Chooice NZ founder Sarah Colcord. More than 5000 new businesses registered with the companies office in 2020, the only rise in the number of companies in New Zealand in the past five years. The novel coronavirus has changed how many people work and live, with side-hustles often transformed into a main income source - a trend that is tipped to grow. Small businesses have long been the backbone of New Zealand. There are 546,732 small enterprises in Aotearoa - making up over 97 percent of all companies. Sarah Colcord founded New Zealand's largest Facebook Group, Chooice (formerly NZ Made Products) and co-founded its e-commerce partner Chooice.co.nz.
19th Jan 2021 - RNZ


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Jan 2021

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Germany plans more tests, sequencing to deal with new coronavirus strains

Top German politicians on Monday called for new measures to slow the spread of new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus, including more health checks for cross-border commuters and intensified gene sequencing of virus samples. In future, health labs will have to sequence 5% of the samples they collect when screening for the coronavirus to check if they match more virulent variants first identified in Britain and South Africa, or if new mutations were emerging in Germany. National and regional leaders are due to meet on Tuesday to decide on new measures. “We still have a big risk ... that is the risk of mutation,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference, calling for a joint European response. An outbreak of a mutated variant of the coronavirus at a clinic in the southern German alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which appeared not to be one of the known variants, fanned the concerns.
18th Jan 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: 24-hour vaccination sites to be piloted in London before end of January

Twenty-four hour vaccination sites will be piloted in London before the end of January, the vaccines minister has said. Speaking to Sky News, Nadhim Zahawi said the NHS will be "targeting forensically who we want to protect" to ensure the most vulnerable people can be vaccinated first. He said that as there is "limited supply" of the vaccine, "it needs to get into the arms of the most vulnerable" such as those who are elderly or clinically extremely vulnerable. Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS national medical director for England, told Sky News the 24/7 pilot would be starting "within the next week or two". The current 8am to 8pm vaccination times have been working for the over-80s, and some areas of the UK have managed to give out first jabs to the majority of this age group.
18th Jan 2021 - Sky News


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Jan 2021

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COVID-19: More than half of over-80s have received vaccine as 140 jabs given a minute

More than half of over-80s in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, as the government has revealed that 140 jabs are being given out a minute. Sharing the news on Twitter, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "I'm delighted that over half of all over-80s have been vaccinated. "Each jab brings us one step closer to normal."
17th Jan 2021 - Sky News

German minister says COVID curbs should be eased for vaccinated people

People who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should be allowed to go to restaurants and cinemas earlier than others, a German minister said, contradicting other cabinet members who have so far opposed special freedoms for those inoculated. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the state had massively restricted people’s basic rights in order to contain infections and avoid overwhelming hospitals. “It has not yet been conclusively clarified to what extent vaccinated people can infect others,” Maas told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “What is clear, however, is that a vaccinated person no longer takes a ventilator away from anyone. This removes at least one central reason for restricting fundamental rights.”
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Every UK adult could be offered a vaccine by mid-July - if these figures are anything to go by

For a few hours this week, we were given an insight into the closely-guarded secret at the centre of the UK's vaccination programme. It came courtesy of the Scottish government, which published its vaccination plan on Wednesday. The plan included detailed figures for the number of vaccines that would be supplied to Scotland by the UK each week until the end of May. The UK government objected, saying the publication of the figures would create difficulties for the pharmaceutical companies, and the offending page was quickly removed - but not before some clever internet users were able to save a copy.
16th Jan 2021 - Sky News


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Jan 2021

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The future of the Covid vaccine: Inside New York City’s pop-up clinics

On a normal weekday, Hillcrest High School in Queens, New York, would be filled with students congregating in the hallways and attending classes. But the school has instead faced a pandemic transformation, becoming one of the latest vaccination pop-ups to open up across New York City. When eligible residents arrive on the site, which officially opened on Sunday, they are asked to confirm their online appointment with a staff member before they are guided along a stickered path through the hallways of the high school.
14th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Pope Francis, 84, receives his first dose of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine

Vatican began vaccinating its population of 800 against Covid on Wednesday Pope Francis, 84 and with only one lung, was among the first to get a shot Pope Emeritus Benedict, 93, received his jab early on Thursday, Vatican said Francis told Catholics it is their 'moral duty' to be vaccinated against the virus
14th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Mayor: Chicago opening 6 mass COVID-19 vaccination sites

The city of Chicago is opening six mass COVID-19 vaccination sites that’ll be able to deliver roughly 25,000 weekly shots once operational, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. Lightfoot visited one of two new sites that opened Thursday but said Chicago needs many more first doses to protect all Chicagoans quickly. The last three sites are expected to open in the next week. Most are at City Colleges of Chicago campuses. “We are frustrated by the federal government's response to COVID-19 overall, but particularly the vaccine rollout which is not delivering on its promises of the quantities that we've seen," Lightfoot said after touring a Richard J. Daley College site.
14th Jan 2021 - Associated Press on MSN.com


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Jan 2021

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Stricter COVID-19 restrictions likely saved THOUSANDS of lives in European countries, study finds

European countries that had stricter mitigation measures against COVID-19 likely saved thousands of lives, a new study finds. Nations such as Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had closed schools and offices, limited gatherings and implemented stay-at-home orders before cases began rapidly spreading across the continent, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on Tuesday. Meanwhile countries such as the UK, Belarus and Luxembourg implanted few to no restrictions, allowing infections to spread relatively unchecked. What's more, the CDC found that sterner restrictions in most European countries could have led at least 74,000 fewer deaths - mostly in the UK, France and Spain.
13th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Spain aims for all care home residents to get first COVID-19 vaccine dose by weekend

Spain aims for all its nursing home residents to have received a first dose of vaccine against the coronavirus by the end of the week, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting. Since kicking off its vaccination campaign at the end of December and with new infections on the rise, Spain has focused its efforts on inoculating elderly nursing-home residents who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Return with confidence: Using tech to create safe offices, post-pandemic

How can technology help companies worldwide return to work safely when lockdown ends? At Siemens, Ruth Gratzke is overseeing a “Return with Confidence” campaign to create safe and healthy indoor office environments. “It addresses everything from elevators where you don’t have to touch the buttons, touchless interactions throughout the building or management of meeting rooms and desks around social distancing,” said Gratzke, who is president of Siemens Smart Infrastructure, U.S., a unit of Siemens AG. “It’s about using creative and new technologies, looking at what’s available in tech and giving people the confidence to return to the office.”
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

EasyJet cabin crew to help with UK vaccination programme

British airline easyJet said the National Health Service (NHS) would train hundreds of its cabin crew to administer COVID-19 vaccines under a fast-track scheme designed to help boost the country’s vaccination efforts. The government plans to vaccinate the elderly, the vulnerable and frontline workers - around 15 million people - by mid-February and is opening up centres and recruiting volunteers to help it meet its target. With travel at very low levels due to the lockdown, many of easyJet’s 3,000 cabin crew are not working but are both first aid trained and security cleared, making them attractive candidates to the NHS to help with the programme.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Chinese province of 37million declares 'emergency' to combat coronavirus as the nation's new COVID-19 epicentre launches a second round of mass-testing amid fresh outbreak

Heilongjiang in northeast China announced to enter an 'emergency state' today The province banned its 37m residents from leaving unless absolutely necessary Shijiazhuang in Hebei ordered 11m people to undergo city-wide testing again The province emerged as China's new epicentre in the latest COVID-19 outbreak China recorded 107 new native cases today, the highest daily tally since last July
13th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Jan 2021

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A simple Fitbit could detect Covid-19 days before symptoms appear

A Fitbit device may be able to give its wearer an early warning over a coronavirus infection before symptoms begin to appear. That’s the thesis from a group of researchers at Stanford University who are currently studying whether wearable technology could help fight the pandemic. Modern Fitbit devices (as well as similar gadgets made by Apple and Garmin) track heart rates and could indicate abnormalities that show up after infection. Although a Covid-19 victim may not show obvious symptoms – such as a cough or loss of smell – for up to five days there is a ‘presymptomatic’ period. During this phase, their body may give off signals that suggest they caught the virus.
12th Jan 2021 - Metro

With England in lockdown 3, it's time ministers got it right on face masks

Faced with a new, more infectious variant of the virus and a vaccination programme that won’t reach everyone until the autumn, the prime minister has suggested the government may have to tighten restrictions during England’s third lockdown. But ministers already have a simple tool at their disposal. Getting face masks right is one of the most important things we can do now to stop the spread of Covid-19. In England, the attitude to face masks has been inconsistent at best and negligent at worst. Masks are required in shared public spaces such as supermarkets, though many workers have complained that customers aren’t wearing them, and enforcement has largely fallen on individual stores. In schools, the government inexplicably made masks mandatory in corridors but not in classrooms. To reduce transmission as much as possible, they should be worn throughout the school day.
12th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

New Zealand to ask international travellers for negative virus test before flying in

New Zealand will ask international travelers from most countries to show negative COVID-19 test results before boarding flights to the country as new contagious variants of COVID-19 spread across globally. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that most global air routes will be of critical concern for the foreseeable future,” COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement. Hipkins said the pre-departure test requirement would soon expand to all countries and territories excluding Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters

As Canada battles rising COVID-19 cases, lack of sick leave fuels transmission

As Canadian provinces struggle to contain rising COVID-19 infections, a lack of adequate paid sick leave for front-line workers is fuelling transmission, doctors and advocates say. While political leaders and health officials advise sick people to stay home, many people can’t afford to. Some 58% of workers in Canada lack enough paid sick leave, according to the Decent Work and Health Network, and that percentage rises as wages drop. One morning last spring, 67-year-old part-time support worker Susan woke up feeling “a hurt in my heart like a knife.” She went to work at a Toronto rehabilitation home anyway -- she said it was the only way to pay the bills. Susan, who is using an pseudonym for fear of professional repercussions, had no sick days and couldn’t afford to miss even a day’s pay.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Jan 2021

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Supermarkets told to limit customers over fears lockdown rules being broken

Shoppers could once again be faced with long queues outside supermarkets as part of a wider Government crackdown on compliance with the latest lockdown measures. Ministers are said to have agreed to toughen enforcement of the rules amid fears poor compliance could mean the nationwide restrictions fail to bring the soaring coronavirus infection rates under control. The crackdown will focus on the retail sector and the rules allowing people to leave their homes for daily exercise, according to The Times. A Government source told the newspaper: ‘We need to make sure supermarkets in particular are following the rules given this is one of the few places where you still see people from different households in the same indoor space.’
11th Jan 2021 - Metro


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 11th Jan 2021

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Rapid Covid testing across England will help identify symptomless carriers

Rapid testing to find symptomless carriers of Covid-19 is to be launched in England this week. The aim of the programme is to identify some of the tens of thousands of infected people who are unwittingly spreading the virus across the country. The dramatic escalation of the programme – which uses detectors known as lateral flow devices – comes as Covid death rates have continued to soar and hospitals have reported alarming numbers of patients needing intensive care.
10th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Nurse catches Covid three weeks after getting Pfizer vaccine

A nurse in Wales caught Covid three weeks after getting the vaccine, prompting warnings from experts that it takes time for immunity to build up. The nurse, who has been working for the Hywel Dda University Health Board area, said that she contracted the virus while waiting for the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech jab. Deputy Chief Executive of Hywel Dda health board, Dr Philip Kloer, said that while a Covid vaccine ‘reduces your chance of suffering’ from the virus, no vaccine is ever 100% effective.
9th Jan 2021 - Metro.co.uk

Australia scrambles to block coronavirus variant; travellers must show negative test

Travellers to Australia will have to show a negative Covid-19 test before they can get on their plane, the prime minister said on Friday (Jan 8), as the city of Brisbane went into lockdown after the discovery of a case of a virulent new coronavirus variant. The more than 2 million residents of Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, will be barred from leaving their homes for anything but essential business for three days from Friday evening after a worker at a quarantine hotel tested positive for the new variant, which was first detected in Britain. Australia has detected several cases of the variant but this was the first one to appear outside the quarantine system.
9th Jan 2021 - The Straits Times

Israel's Covid vaccine rollout is the fastest in the world — here are some lessons for the rest of us

While the U.S. and Europe attempt to ramp up their own Covid vaccination drives, Israel is outpacing them all. Israel’s vaccination drive began on Dec. 19, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the first person to be vaccinated in the country. Priority has been given to people aged over 60, health care workers and anyone clinically vulnerable — reported to make up around a quarter of its 9 million population.
9th Jan 2021 - CNBC

SAGE warns people must still wear masks AFTER getting Covid vaccine

SPI-B, a sub-group of SAGE, warned some people would stop obeying rules. They said it was crucial that Government told people to continue to be strict. There is no proof that the vaccine will stop people from spreading the virus. Trials only looked at whether the jabs could prevent severe Covid-19
9th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Queen and Prince Philip get Covid vaccine at Windsor Castle

In England, the Queen and Prince Philip have both received the first dose of Covid-19 vaccinations, Buckingham Palace has confirmed. The royal couple were given the jab by a doctor from the Royal Household at Windsor Castle, where they are both isolating. The Queen, 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, both meet the Government age guidelines for those who should be given the vaccine. Some 1.3 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, according to the government.
9th Jan 2021 - Evening Standard

Covid-19: Act like you've got the virus, government urges

People in England are being told to act like they have got Covid as part of a government advertising campaign aimed at tackling the rise in infections. Boris Johnson said the public should "stay at home" and not get complacent. On Friday 1,325 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test were recorded in the UK - the highest daily figure yet - along with 68,053 new cases. Government sources say there is likely to be more focus from police on enforcing rather than explaining rules. "With over 1,000 people dying yesterday it's more important than ever everyone sticks to rules," a source told the BBC.
9th Jan 2021 - BBC News


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Jan 2021

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Moderna's coronavirus vaccine likely prevents infection for 'a couple of YEARS,' CEO says

Moderna Inc CEO Stéphane Bancel said on Thursday the firm's coronavirus vaccine will likely protect for at least 'a couple of years.' He says this is because levels of antibodies against COVID-19 in humans decreases very slowly. Although more research is needed, Bancel said enough evidence shows there is no 'nightmare scenario' of the jab working for just a month or two. Bancel says the biotechnology company is currently working on research that will show it protects against the new variants from the UK and South Africa
8th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

England to require travellers to show negative COVID tests

Britain’s government will require people entering England to present a negative COVID-19 test result on arrival starting next week to protect against new strains of the coronavirus from other countries, the government said on Friday. Passengers arriving by boat, plane or train will have to take a test up to 72 hours before departing for England, the transport ministry said, mirroring measures taken by many other countries around the world. “We already have significant measures in place to prevent imported cases of COVID-19, but with new strains of the virus developing internationally we must take further precautions,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a new lockdown for England this week after a surge in cases linked to a new variant of the coronavirus believed to have originated in the country.
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Stale air can transmit the coronavirus

A Cambridge doctor says he wants the government to do more to warn the public that infected air is a major source of transmission of Covid-19 and that ventilating rooms is just as important as washing hands. He warned that the need to open windows and ventilate indoor spaces to disperse the virus is not being publicised enough by the government when research shows eight out of ten cases are caused by breathing in infected air. And he says cloth masks offer only “minimal protection” against these tiny particles which can stay floating in the air.
7th Jan 2021 - Cambridge Independent


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COVID-19: Britons must take coronavirus test before travelling to Ireland

Visitors to Ireland will have to produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours, as the country's government brings in a raft of tough new restrictions.
6th Jan 2021 - Sky News


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The Times view on the new lockdown: End Game

The means to defeat the coronavirus are now available. Yet the rate of infection of Covid-19 in Britain is intensifying and risks overwhelming the National Health Service. That is the paradox driving public health policy. Unfortunately, the government has been continually reactive in adopting measures to halt transmissions. It has had to learn painfully that there is no route out of the crisis by half-measures. Policy needs to be tougher and speedier if the nation’s hardships are to be eased and then dispelled by a vast vaccination campaign. Failing to do this has already cost lives. The government needs to give a clearer message on the urgency of the crisis and the stages by which, with public support, it can be lifted.
5th Jan 2021 - The Times

Large US airlines back global COVID-testing requirements: Report

A group representing airlines in the United States has backed a proposal by public health officials to implement a global testing programme requiring negative tests before most international air passengers return to the US, according to a letter seen by the Reuters news agency. Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other large carriers, also urged the Trump administration in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Monday “to move ahead with recommendations to rescind current entry restrictions on travellers from Europe, the United Kingdom and Brazil as soon as possible … concurrently with the testing programme.”
5th Jan 2021 - Aljazeera.com


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Australia's largest state reports zero COVID cases, urges thousands to get tested

Australia’s most populous state New South Wales (NSW) on Monday reported zero local coronavirus cases for the first time in nearly three weeks, as Sydney battled multiple outbreaks and authorities urged tens of thousands of people to get tested. NSW daily testing numbers have dropped to around 20,000 in the last two days from a peak of about 70,000 recorded on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. The overwhelming majority of tests are in the state capital Sydney. “The numbers are far too low... if we’re going to succeed in staying ahead of the COVID pandemic, testing is crucial in large numbers so we can be confident of the data when we’re making decisions,” NSW Acting Premier John Barilaro told reporters.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

China giving COVID-19 vaccine to 50 million in a month, Israel vaccinating so fast it's running out of vaccine

China is aiming to administer the first dose of the vaccine to 50 million people before Jan. 15 and the second shot by Feb. 5. Lunar New Years festivities begin on Feb. 11. Health officials in Israel are working to secure more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as the country has inoculated a higher proportion of its population than any other country and is running low on supply.
4th Jan 2021 - The Hill

Five key milestones in the Covid-19 pandemic that we’re anticipating in 2021

If 2020 was defined by the explosion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 2021 could be about its dwindling. But how many people will fall ill, and die, as that happens is dependent on our leaders, individuals, vaccine makers, and public campaigns to encourage people to get the Covid-19 shots developed with unprecedented speed. STAT News publishes its forecast regarding what to anticipate for the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021
4th Jan 2021 - STAT News


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LA begins issuing digital vaccine verification for Apple Wallet

LA will begin offering the digital receipts for vaccination starting this week. Plan is being carried out in partnership with tech company Healthvana. It's initially aimed at ensuring people get the correct second dose of vaccine. But critics fear a looming system of 'vaccine passports' required for travel. Raises questions about civil rights and people with immunity after infection
31st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: UK sets up more than 20 Covid test sites for France-bound hauliers

More than 20 new coronavirus testing centres for hauliers driving to France are being set up in the next few days, the transport secretary has announced. Grant Shapps said that 10 sites opened on Saturday, with a further 10 to come on Sunday, and more to be added in the week. The government is also offering help to firms that wish to set up testing centres on their own premises. Free testing kits will be available to companies as part of the scheme. The move comes after France shut its border to UK arrivals - including freight drivers - last month, amid concern over a new fast-spreading variant of coronavirus identified in the UK. It led to thousands of lorry drivers being stuck in Kent as they waited to cross the English Channel, with some clashing with police after spending days in their cabs.
2nd Jan 2021 - BBC News


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Harris receives COVID-19 shot in bid to boost U.S. vaccine confidence

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received a COVID-19 vaccination live on television on Tuesday, as the incoming Biden administration seeks to boost confidence in the inoculation even while warning it will be months before it is available to all. Senator Harris, who is Black and Asian-American, will become the second high-profile person from an ethnic minority background to receive the vaccine after Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Dec. 18. Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, has said he will make the fight against the coronavirus, which has infected more than 19 million Americans and killed over 334,000, his top priority.
29th Dec 2020 - Reuters

China meat association calls for exporters to disinfect shipments to prevent COVID-19

Chinese meat importers and processors have called on exporters in countries with COVID-19 outbreaks to step up checks on shipments before they are sent to the world’s biggest market, China’s top industry group said. “China has been importing a large quantity of meats this year, and has detected virus on the packaging of cold chain products many times, even as lots of disinfection has been done domestically,” Gao Guan, spokesman for the China Meat Association, said on Tuesday. It would be better to handle virus control at the point of origins and carry out disinfection at production plants as the cost would be lower and efficiency higher, Gao said. China has ramped up disinfection and virus testing on frozen food after it found coronavirus on imported products and packaging.
29th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Consortium working with medical authorities on approval for Covid-19 rapid test

A consortium that includes medical diagnostics company Omega is working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to enable approval for its Covid-19 lateral flow antibody test. The Alva-based company is part of the consortium led by AIM-listed Abingdon Health developing the AbC-19 Rapid Test. Abingdon, which is York-based, said that while the UK's Department of Health and Social Care has first refusal of supplies of the test through a contract that runs to 14 February, it is also working on potential international distribution. The UK Rapid Test Consortium liaising with customers and regulatory authorities across a total of 27 international territories, to allow future use of the product outside of the UK.
29th Dec 2020 - Insider.co.uk

Covid: Military back-up for pupil testing as heads urge delay to start of term

Members of the armed forces are to give remote support to secondary schools and colleges in England setting up mass Covid testing as the new term begins. Military personnel will hold webinars and give phone support to school staff. But head teachers say they need support on the ground and more time to make the plan workable. They are calling for a delay to the start of term. The government wants pupils to go back in the first two weeks of January, but is keeping the situation under review.
29th Dec 2020 - BBC News


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Fauci: Up to 90% of population needs vaccine for herd immunity

"We all have to be honest and humble, nobody really knows for sure, but I think 70-85% for herd immunity for COVID-19 is a reasonable estimate," he said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. Fauci had previously told The New York Times it could take up to 90% of the US population to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus. He clarified that the range he states are a "guesstimate," and that the goal was for 70 to 85 percent of the population to be vaccinated. This month, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized both Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine for emergency use which have been rolled out across the country.
27th Dec 2020 - Business Insider


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Biden to receive coronavirus vaccine as U.S. inoculation effort mounts

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden received his first injected dose of the COVID-19 vaccine live on television on Monday in an effort to boost confidence in its safety ahead of its wide distribution next year. Biden has said he would make the fight against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 315,000 Americans and infected more than 17.5 million, his top priority when he takes office on Jan. 20. At age 78, he is in the high-risk group for the highly contagious respiratory disease.
21st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Austria will offer coronavirus tests to its entire population with those testing negative receiving 'more freedoms' as country prepares for third lockdown

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced Austria will enter a third lockdown It will run between December 26 to January 24, but will see mass testing done Those who take part in the series of testing will be allowed more freedoms Such freedoms include visiting cultural events and restaurants, Kurz said It was also announced the country will be reopening ski lifts despite lockdown
19th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail


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Covid: Austrians who pass antigen test to be exempt from lockdown

Austria is to enter a third lockdown from Boxing Day but will stage mass coronavirus tests in mid-January to determine who will be exempt from certain restrictions, the government announced on Friday. Italy is preparing to outline new measures that could lead to a complete lockdown over the Christmas and new year period, while the Spanish government has warned of a possible “third wave” of infections. Austria’s latest lockdown, which comes into effect on 26 December, will include daytime curfews, the closure of non-essential shops, and schools switching to remote learning from 7 to 15 January. Mass antigen tests being offered on the weekend of 16 and 17 January will give people the opportunity to “test themselves free” of restrictions, according to the interior minister, Karl Nehammer.
19th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Chilean president handed $3,500 fine for mask-less selfie with stranger on beach

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was slapped with a $3,500 fine on Friday after posing for a selfie on the beach with a bystander without wearing a mask as required during the coronavirus pandemic, health authorities said. Chile has strict rules on mask wearing in all public places and violations are punishable with sanctions that include fines and even jail terms. Pinera apologized then turned himself in shortly after the selfie surfaced on social media in early December.
18th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Peter Roderick: Transparency in approving covid-19 vaccines

Transparency is generally regarded as essential for public trust in medicines, and likely to lead to better decision-making. Yet lack of transparency has been a hallmark of the regulation of medicines. Modest improvements have been made over the last decade, but the spotlight is being shone again on how the regulatory system operates as approvals are being given or considered for several covid-19 vaccines. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) held live-streamed public meetings to discuss the issue generally on 22 October 2020, and specifically for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with an FDA analysis, on 10 December ahead of the FDA’s decision. That meeting voted 17/4, and one abstention, in favour of emergency use approval, which was issued the next day. A further meeting is scheduled pre-licensure for the Moderna vaccine on 17 December. As the FDA head, Stephen M. Hahn has said, “The FDA recognizes that transparency and dialogue are critical for the public to have confidence in COVID-19 vaccines”.
17th Dec 2020 - The BMJ

The U.S. says employers can require workers to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

Employers can require workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine and bar them from the workplace if they refuse, the federal government said in guidelines issued this week. Public health experts see employers as playing an important role in vaccinating enough people to reach herd immunity and get a handle on a pandemic that has killed more than 300,
19th Dec 2020 - New York Times


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Biden to get COVID-19 vaccine publicly next week

President-elect Joe Biden will get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as next week, transition officials said on Wednesday (16 December), as US authorities try to build public confidence in a measure that promises to stanch the deadly pandemic. Vice President Mike Pence will get the vaccine on Friday, the White House said. Both men will receive the shot publicly in an effort to boost confidence in the safety of the vaccine, which will become widely available to the public next year. “I don’t want to get ahead of the line but I want to make sure that we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden said at an event earlier on Wednesday. Biden, 78, is in a high-risk category for the coronavirus because of his age.
17th Dec 2020 - EURACTIV

Sweden's king says 'we have failed' over COVID-19, as deaths mount

Sweden’s king said his country had failed in its handling of COVID-19, in a sharp criticism of a pandemic policy partly blamed for a high death toll among the elderly. Carl XVI Gustaf, whose son and daughter-in-law tested positive last month, used an annual royal Christmas TV special to highlight the growing impact of the virus, in a rare intervention from a monarch whose duties are largely ceremonial. Sweden has stood out from most countries by shunning lockdowns and face masks, leaving schools, restaurants and businesses largely open and relying mainly on voluntary social distancing and hygiene recommendations to slow the spread. An official commission said on Tuesday systemic shortcomings in elderly care coupled with inadequate measures from the government and agencies contributed to Sweden’s particularly high death toll in nursing homes.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK


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Covid-19: Europeans urged to wear masks for family Christmas

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Europeans to wear masks during family gatherings at Christmas. It said Europe was at "high risk" of a new wave of coronavirus infections in the early part of 2021, as transmission of the virus remained high. Countries across the continent have been registering thousands of daily cases and hundreds of deaths. Germany was among countries tightening restrictions on Wednesday, closing schools and non-essential businesses. Meanwhile European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the first Covid vaccine would be authorised for use within a week.
16th Dec 2020 - BBC News

UK medical journals call for Christmas Covid rules to be reversed

Plans to relax Covid restrictions at Christmas must be reversed or many lives risk being lost, according to a rare joint editorial from two of the UK’s most eminent medical journals. That call was echoed by the head of the hospital doctors’ union, who described the government’s plans as “kamikaze”. Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, also urged Boris Johnson to reconsider the restrictions in a letter to the prime minister on Tuesday afternoon. The British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal said the government could no longer claim to be protecting the NHS if it went ahead with its “rash” plans to allow households to mix indoors over Christmas. “We believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives,” it says.
16th Dec 2020 - The Guardian


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US vaccinations ramp up as feds weigh 2nd COVID-19 shot

Hundreds more U.S. hospitals will begin vaccinating their workers Tuesday as federal health officials review a second COVID-19 shot needed to boost the nation’s largest vaccination campaign. Packed in dry ice to stay at ultra-frozen temperatures, shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are set to arrive at 400 additional hospitals and other distribution sites, one day after the nation’s death toll surpassed a staggering 300,000. The first 3 million shots are being strictly rationed to front-line health workers and elder-care patients, with hundreds of millions more shots needed over the coming months to protect most Americans. The FDA is set to publish its analysis of a second rigorously studied COVID-19 vaccine, which could soon join Pfizer-BioNTech’s in the fight against the pandemic. If FDA advisers give it a positive recommendation on Thursday, the agency could greenlight the vaccine from drugmaker Moderna later this week.
15th Dec 2020 - The Independent


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New Zealand agrees on 'travel bubble' with Australia in early 2021

New Zealand agreed on Monday to allow quarantine-free travel with Australia in the first quarter of 2021, nearly a year after it locked down its borders to protect its population from the novel coronavirus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the cabinet had agreed in principle on a trans-Tasman, quarantine-free travel bubble pending confirmation by Australia’s cabinet and no significant change in circumstances in either country. “It is our intention to name a date ... in the New Year once remaining details are locked down,” Ardern said at a news conference in the capital, Wellington. New Zealand’s has virtually eliminated the novel coronavirus by enforcing a tough lockdown and keeping its borders shut to all foreigners for most of the year.
14th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Why many countries failed at COVID contact-tracing — but some got it right

Across the Western world, countries have floundered with this most basic public-health procedure. In England, tracers fail to get in touch with one in eight people who test positive for COVID-19; 18% of those who are reached provide no details for close contacts. In some regions of the United States, more than half of people who test positive provide no details of contacts when asked. These statistics come not from the first wave of COVID-19, but from November, long after initial lockdowns gave countries time to develop better contact-tracing systems. The reasons for the failures are complex and systemic. Antiquated technology and underfunded health-care systems have proved ill-equipped to respond. Wealthy nations have struggled to hire enough contact-tracers, marshal them efficiently or make sure that people do self-isolate when infected or that they quarantine when a close contact has the disease. And overstretched contact-tracers have been met with distrust by people wary both of health authorities and of the technologies being deployed to fight the pandemic. Meanwhile, researchers who are keen to draw lessons from contact-tracing operations are stymied by a dearth of data.
14th Dec 2020 - Nature.com

France launches mass Covid-19 screening campaigns before lifting lockdown

The French cities of Le Havre, on the Normandy coast, and Charleville-Mézières, near the Belgian border, are conducting mass Covid-19 testing campaigns on Monday in the country's latest effort to stem the spread of the disease before the holidays and the end of France's second lockdown on Tuesday. While the French will be allowed to circulate freely throughout the country without having to document their comings-and-goings with administrative permits, the number of new daily coronavirus infections remains high above the government's objective for mid-December.
14th Dec 2020 - FRANCE 24 English


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Scientists warn against Christmas gatherings in UK despite relaxed rules

“If people [aren’t] cautious, then we will pay for our Christmas parties with January and February lockdowns,” said Prof Devi Sridhar, the chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh. “With a vaccine just weeks away, why risk infecting vulnerable and elderly people we love?” Prof Susan Michie, a member of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) and the Independent Sage group of experts, agreed. “One has got to respond to the situation as it is, not the situation as we’d like it to be,” she said, reiterating that people should think carefully about whether to meet up with others, and if they do, only meet outside. “If we really want to keep our loved ones safe, the best thing is not to see them.”
11th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Covid drives record drop in global carbon emissions, research shows

The coronavirus pandemic has driven a record drop in global carbon emissions, researchers have found. They warned, however, that greener measures are needed as economies recover, to start delivering the annual emissions cuts required to to curb climate change. Britain saw one of the biggest drops in emissions at 13 per cent, the analysis showed. The country saw major reductions in transport - the largest source of climate pollution for the country - and was hit by two waves of restrictions.
11th Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

Covid-19 in Wales: Mass testing a 'waste of resources'

Continuing mass testing in Wales could be a "massive-scale of waste of resources", a leading public health expert has said. Figures show less than 1.5% of people were testing positive as part of pilots in Merthyr Tydfil and the lower Cynon Valley. Dr Angela Raffle said there was little evidence to suggest it helped cut transmission. First Minister Mark Drakeford said mass testing "has a part to play". Dr Raffle, a senior lecturer in population sciences at Bristol University, said mass testing was "incredibly resource intensive". "We simply don't know whether you'll find enough cases who would have transmitted a lot, and who don't [transmit Covid-19] simply because you found them," she said. "And we don't know whether telling lots of people they're negative could actually undermine any potential benefit."
13th Dec 2020 - BBC News


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Coronavirus vaccine: your questions answered | British Heart Foundation

We explain the latest news on the coronavirus vaccine, including when it will be available and who will get it.
10th Dec 2020 - British Heart Foundation

Covid-19: The mask-wearing US city that bucked the trend

A major factor in the decision was keeping the university - South Dakota State - open for teaching and therefore retaining the large student population during the autumn, adds Mr McMacken. The requirements for mask use were brought in by the city of Brookings but they don't apply across the entire county of the same name. Our data is for the county, not the city, so it has its limitations. Brookings County now has the lowest infection rate out of the five most populous South Dakota counties.
10th Dec 2020 - BBC News

Studies find Covid testing, exit strategies key to efficacy

As local administrations in India prepare for a second wave, infections, two new studies that evaluated interventions such as lockdowns and travel restrictions in containing Covid-19, found that proper testing and exit strategies are crucial. “Imposing a lockdown during the first wave was a good decision, but the health care system wasn’t prepared to handle the exit then. We found that exit strategies played a major role in the increase in the number of cases. The study showed that aggressive measures like lockdowns may be inherently enough to suppress an outbreak, however other measures need to be scaled up as lockdowns are relaxed. Premature withdrawal of lockdowns without adequately planned interventions for the post-lockdown phase may lead to the second wave,” Giridara Gopal, co-author of the study told TNIE.
10th Dec 2020 - The New Indian Express

South Korea study shows how coronavirus spreads indoors

The study — adding to a growing body of evidence on airborne transmission of the virus — highlighted how South Korea’s meticulous and often invasive contact tracing regime has enabled researchers to closely track how the virus moves through populations. “In this outbreak, the distances between infector and infected persons were ... farther than the generally accepted 2 meter [6.6-foot] droplet transmission range,” the study’s authors wrote. “The guidelines on quarantine and epidemiological investigation must be updated to reflect these factors for control and prevention of COVID-19.”
9th Dec 2020 - Los Angeles Times


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Covid-19 vaccine: Allergy warning over new jab

People with a history of significant allergic reactions should not have the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid jab, regulators say. It came after two NHS workers had allergic reactions on Tuesday. The advice applies to those who have had reactions to medicines, food or vaccines, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said. The two people had a reaction shortly after having the new jab, had treatment and are both fine now. They are understood to have had an anaphylactoid reaction, which tends to involve a skin rash, breathlessness and sometimes a drop in blood pressure. This is not the same as anaphylaxis which can be fatal. Both NHS workers have a history of serious allergies and carry adrenaline pens around with them.
9th Dec 2020 - BBC News


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Could Slovakia's mass testing programme work in England?

The UK’s response to the covid-19 pandemic has, on any measure, been unimpressive. In a recent assessment of G7 countries, it came out second worst in the cumulative number of deaths in relation to population, just behind Italy. It was worst in terms of the contraction of the economy. These facts were well known. What was new, and surprising, was that it had achieved these unenviable positions despite spending far more than most of the other countries. Using a measure based on the core budget deficit, it spent 80% more than the average among these industrialized countries, beaten only by Canada. Faced with this predicament, it is understandable that ministers would look elsewhere for ideas. At first it was Sweden, with Downing Street seeking advice from its chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell. Sweden’s refusal to adopt the stringent measures imposed elsewhere had obvious attractions for a party committed to individual freedom, with ministers who had spent many years criticizing the “nanny state.” Unfortunately, as the evidence from Stockholm accumulated, revealing a magnitude of economic decline similar to that in its locked down neighbours, but at a much higher cost in lives, the attraction waned, finally evaporating when the second wave, which advocates for the Swedish model predicted would not happen, became apparent.
8th Dec 2020 - The BMJ


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WHO hails COVID vaccine progress, urges nations to double down on mitigation

At a media briefing today, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said decisions by country leaders in the coming days will set the course for the virus in the short term and influence when the pandemic will eventually end. He said though vaccine progress brings hope, the WHO is worried about a growing perception that the pandemic is over. "The truth is that at present, many places are witnessing very high transmission of the virus, which is putting enormous pressure on hospitals, intensive care units and health workers," he said.
4th Dec 2020 - CIDRAP

Well and Lloyds follow Boots in launching private COVID-19 swab tests

Well and Lloyds pharmacy have followed in the footsteps of Boots and launched private COVID-19 swab test services, the multiples have confirmed. Well announced last week (December 2) that it was introducing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in-pharmacy test priced at £120 – also the price of the Boots in-branch COVID-19 swab test that launched in October. Lloydspharmacy also offers an at-home COVID-19 PCR swab test kit.
7th Dec 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

US schools go back and forth on in-person learning

New York reopened classrooms to many of its youngest students Monday in what has become a frustrating, stop-and-start process in many school systems around the U.S. because of the alarming surge in the coronavirus. The nation's largest school district, with 1 million students, had shut down in-person learning just two weeks ago but decided to bring back preschoolers and elementary school children after parents pushed for it and the mayor concluded it was safe to do so with beefed-up testing. In contrast, school systems in Detroit, Boston, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and suburban Minneapolis in recent weeks abandoned in-person classes or dropped plans to bring students back because of soaring infections. The retreat in some places and the push forward in others are happening as the virus comes back with a vengeance across much of the U.S., with deaths per day averaging over 2,200 — about the same level seen during the very deadliest stretch of the outbreak, last spring in the New York City area.
7th Dec 2020 - The Independent

UK could suffer a 'severe' third wave of Covid in January if we 'take our foot off the pedal', SAGE scientist warns

Professor Andrew Hayward warned that the pandemic is still not over today He said it would be 'sad' for cases to surge following the Christmas period Covid-19 vaccine is a ray of hope for ending pandemic in the next few months
7th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail


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Atul Gawande on Coronavirus Vaccines and Prospects for Ending the Pandemic

The New Yorker staff writer discusses when a vaccine might be ready for distribution, who should receive it, and whether eradicating the virus is possible.
4th Dec 2020 - The New Yorker

Covid test-and-trace: Is backwards contact tracing the way forward?

Contact tracing is about detective work - and there are different ways to do it. If a person tests positive, forward contact tracing means finding all the people they could have passed the virus on to, and asking them to self-isolate. For backwards contact tracing, the aim is to find who gave the virus to the person who tested positive. The theory is that if they have already passed on the virus, they're more likely to have infected other people as well, because of how superspreading works. Then their contacts are found, and asked to self-isolate, too. If the effort is just on going forward, then "potentially a lot of cases won't have infected people", said Dr Adam Kucharski, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The result is a big part of the outbreak will be missed, he says. But because cases are often linked to superspreading events, going backwards could pick up infections that might otherwise be missed
6th Dec 2020 - BBC News

CDC urges 'universal mask use' indoors for the first time in U.S.

The CDC suggested the universal use of face masks in a new report on Friday. The agency said proper face masks should be worn anywhere outside of an individuals' home. Report said the US has reached a 'phase of high-level transmission' amid the winter weather, holiday seasons and flu season. President-elect Joe Biden announced he will ask Americans to wear face masks for up to 100 days when inaugurated. Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations have increased across the country. CDC said national forecasts predicted between 9,500 and 19,500 new Covid-19 deaths will be counted during the week ending December 26
5th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Multidose COVID-19 vaccines will test state tracking systems

When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in the United States, officials’ first challenge is getting the people in the door for their shots. Then, they’ll have a second problem: making sure they come back again to get a second dose of the same vaccine. With two two-dose vaccines headed for authorization, the logistical challenges of a vaccination program are only magnified. “You don’t want to have someone get the first dose of one brand of vaccine, and a second dose of another,” says Ben Moscovitch, project director of health information technology at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Assuming the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the vaccines after they review the data later this month, states will start to receive shipments of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine on December 15th, and the Moderna vaccine on December 22nd. From there, it’s up to states to distribute the vaccines. Both take two doses, given a few weeks apart, and both could be circulating at the same time. And that’s just the two front-runners. Other multidose vaccines are still in the development pipeline.
4th Dec 2020 - The Verge

Eceptionist launches self-service COVID-19 vaccine management tool

Global health care software provider Eceptionist has launched a new web-based solution to help private and public organizations manage COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Dubbed VaxManager, the software as a service (SAAS) solution alleviates the administrative burden of managing COVID tests, flu shots, and other vaccines when they become available. VaxManager incorporates an organization's COVID guidelines into a test/vaccine request workflow to automatically screen and prioritize vaccine and test requests, the company said. The mobile-friendly platform also includes a self-registration and self-request portal for patients to ensure quick and easy onboarding. Automated appointment reminders, follow-up notifications, and post-testing and post-vaccine information make the software highly reliable and relevant for patients.
4th Dec 2020 - IT PRO


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Biden asks Fauci to join COVID-19 team, stresses need for masks

Biden told CNN that he plans to ask the public to wear masks for 100 days to help drive down the spread of the novel coronavirus. “I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask,” Biden said. “Not forever, 100 days.” His office would issue a standing order for people to wear masks in federal buildings and on interstate transportation, including aeroplanes and buses, he added. Biden also said he would get the COVID-19 vaccine when Fauci says it is safe and would be happy to take it publicly. “It’s important to communicate to the American people it’s safe, safe to do this,” he said.
3rd Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Coronavirus: WHO considers e-vaccination certificates to ease travel

The WHO recommended that countries do not begin issuing immunity passports A number of governments have suggested they are a route back to normality British experts warned issuing immunity passports would lead to inequality WHO: Rich nations will lose hundreds of billions if vaccine isn't issued equally
3rd Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid: WHO looks at possible ‘e-vaccination certificates’ for travel

The World Health Organisation has warned against countries issuing "immunity passports" to people who have recovered from Covid-19 but is investigating the prospects of using electronic certificates to flag those who have been vaccinated. "We are looking very closely into the use of technology in this Covid-19 response, and one of them is how we can work with member states towards an e-vaccination certificate," a WHO medical expert told a virtual briefing in Copenhagen on Thursday. Dr Siddharta Sankar Datta, a regional adviser on diseases and immunisation, said the technology could potentially be used to open up international travel.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Independent

The covid-19 symptoms to watch out for

Symptoms of covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, can range from mild to severe. The most common include fever, a dry cough or shortness of breath, but there are other indications you could need to be tested or have a conversation with your doctor. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and the order in which they appear can vary. Some people don’t show any symptoms — what health experts call “asymptomatic” cases — but still could spread the virus to others.
2nd Dec 2020 - The Washington Post

Public trust vital for Covid-19 vaccine programmes, says WHO

The WHO has urged European countries to prepare for vaccinations against Covid-19, stressing that community acceptance will be crucial to the success of the health programmes. More than 200 Covid vaccines are under development, some of which have already completed phase 3 clinical trials with an efficacy rate of more than 90%. This week the UK became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is also reviewing vaccines from the US company Moderna and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca team.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Guardian


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WHO tightens mask guidelines

The World Health Organization (WHO) is tightening its mask guidelines, telling people who live in areas where the coronavirus is still spreading to wear masks at all times in a variety of public places. The new guidelines, rolled out on Tuesday, specify that those entering stores, workplaces and schools with low ventilation should make sure that they are wearing a mask. The WHO is also asking that people wear masks if they cannot keep a physical distance of at least three feet from others within an enclosed area. The guidelines also call for children 12 and older to wear masks and state that face coverings should be worn outdoors if it is not possible to socially distance.
2nd Dec 2020 - The Hill

COVID-19 vaccine: How exactly does the cold supply chain work?

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in the UK is manufactured in Belgium and needs to be stored at -70C (-94F) to avoid spoiling before it is administered. The government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has confirmed its priority list for the first phase of the UK's mass vaccine rollout, which will begin early next week. But the prime minister has acknowledged the government faces "immense logistical challenges" in distributing the vaccine to those who need it over the coming weeks and months. These vaccines will need to be transported from Pfizer's manufacturing plant in Belgium to some of the most distant parts of the British Isles, including the Isle of Arran. Here's how that will work:
2nd Dec 2020 - Sky News

These Covid-19 Vaccines Are Safe, Right?

Sam Fazeli, a Bloomberg Opinion contributor who covers the pharmaceutical industry for Bloomberg Intelligence, answered questions about the safety of new Covid-19 vaccines that are set to win approval for broad use in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere as early as this month. The conversation has been edited and condensed.
2nd Dec 2020 - Bloomberg


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Germany says coronavirus vaccine will be safe

The same rigorous approval standards are being applied to the coronavirus vaccine candidates as for other medicines, Germany’s science minister has said, adding that any approved jab will be voluntary. Anja Karliczek said the key to gaining widespread public support for the immunisation is ensuring the same standards are applied across the board. Authorities will educate the public about any possible side effects that could occur after vaccination, including headaches, localised pain and fever. Vaccination against the virus will not be mandatory, Ms Karliczek said. The rapid pace of the vaccines’ development is down to huge efforts by scientists, as well as early funding and experience from previous vaccines, Marylyn Addo, a doctor at Hamburg's UKE hospital who is working in vaccine trials, said.
1st Dec 2020 - The Independent

Covid-19: Students tested before travelling home

The mass testing of university students for Covid-19, so they can go home for the Christmas break, has started in Canterbury. Those testing negative will be able to use the "travel window" between 3 and 9 December. Two tests must be taken 72 hours apart. "We're trying to ensure the safety of students returning to their families and not presenting a risk to them" said Simon Gwynne of Canterbury Christchurch University. The testing centre set up at the university will be open from 10:00 to 18:00 GMT every day until 8 December, with 900 students booked in on the first day. Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 must isolate for 10 days, with a community buddy system making sure they are looked after.
1st Dec 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Netherlands makes face masks mandatory indoors

The Netherlands has made it compulsory to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus. The country is one of the last in Europe to introduce such a measure. The rule will apply to those over the age of 13 in public buildings such as shops, railway stations and hairdressers from Tuesday. The Netherlands has been one of the countries worst affected by Europe's second wave of Covid-19. It broke daily case records throughout October, and the number of new confirmed infections in the country of 17 million has remained fairly stable at about 5,000 a day for several weeks.
1st Dec 2020 - BBC News

Masked Indian comic superhero fights Covid-19 fear

India's first female comic superhero Priya, a gang-rape survivor who earlier campaigned against rape, acid attack and sex trafficking, is back to fight disinformation around the Covid-19 pandemic. In Priya's Mask, due to be launched on 2 December, the comic crusader joins hands with Jiya, the "Burka Avenger", a popular character from a Pakistani cartoon show, as the two go about trying to tackle the pandemic - and also the "infodemic", a major proliferation in fake news surrounding the coronavirus. With more than 9.4 million infections and 137,000 deaths, India has the second highest caseload globally. A strict nationwide lockdown that was imposed on 21 March delayed the spread for a while, but infections grew rapidly - and continue to do so - since restrictions were relaxed.
1st Dec 2020 - BBC News


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Covid Vaccines: 5 Things An Actual Scientist Wants Anti-Vaxxers To Know

And the recent flurry of positive news around vaccines has inevitably focused some of this misguided energy into the supposed harms and risks associated with inoculation, once again fuelling the anti-vax movement that began in the 1990s. Most of the concerns raised are old and already debunked news, repackaged for the social media age and propagated by non-experts. So HuffPost UK asked an actual expert, UCL medicine cell biologist Dr Jennifer Rohn, to help debunk the 2020 version of a 1990s phenomenon...
30th Nov 2020 - Huffington Post UK

Coronavirus: NHS Covid-19 app to gain self-isolation payments

England and Wales' contact-tracing app is to add a Self-Isolation Payment feature as soon as next week. The version 4 update will address a discrepancy that currently exists. Those told to stay at home by human contact-tracers can qualify for £500 of support. But privacy safeguards built into the NHS Covid-19 app had complicated making the same offer to those who had received an automated self-isolate notification. It is hoped the move will encourage more people to install the app and follow its guidance over the Christmas period, when there are concerns that cases of the coronavirus could spike again.
1st Dec 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Bournemouth universities to test thousands

More than 6,000 university students and staff will be tested for coronavirus over the next week. Bournemouth University (BU) and Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) have teamed up to provide 12,000 tests for students and staff, ensuring they can go home for Christmas. Jim Andrews, chief operating officer at BU, said: “We’ve been working with AUB over the last two weeks to set up a testing facility on the BU campus as part of the government’s guide to get all students tested so those who want to go home before Christmas are able to do so.
1st Dec 2020 - Bournemouth Echo


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How 'Dictator Dan' Defied a Dangerous Murdoch Media and Led Australia to COVID Victory

Australia is on the verge of eliminating the Coronavirus now that the epicentre of its second wave – Melbourne – has recorded its twenty-eighth consecutive day of no new cases. It is a milestone epidemiologists say signals the elimination of COVID-19 in the community, leaving the city of five million residents now without a single active case. The land of Down Under has become the world’s benchmark for managing the pandemic: following the science, placing faith in bona fide public health experts and rejecting the kind of unthinking, know-nothing, right-wing populism pushed by Rupert Murdoch-employed pundits in the media and members of the country’s right-wing Government, the Liberal Party.
28th Nov 2020 - Byline Times

'COVID-passport' for tourists who have had a coronavirus vaccine is in final stages of development amid reports airlines will BAN anyone who has refused the injection

A leading travel industry association is developing a digital passport for international plane passengers who have been vaccinated for COVID-19. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Saturday that it is in the final phase of developing the infrastructure for the passport, which could become an essential component in rebuilding the shattered tourism industry. 'Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements,' Alexandre de Juniac, IATA CEO, said
28th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

More than 1,300 wrongly told they have Covid after Test and Trace lab error

More than 1,300 people were wrongly told they had coronavirus due to a lab error with the government’s Test and Trace service. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 1,311 people who took a test from 19-23 November across the UK were incorrectly told they received a positive result. It said there was an issue with a batch of testing chemicals which meant their results were void. A DHSC spokesman said: “Swift action is being taken to notify those affected and they are being asked to take another test, and to continue to self-isolate if they have symptoms. This laboratory error was an isolated incident and is being fully investigated to ensure this does not happen again.” The DHSC did not comment on whether the error affected regionalinfection rate figures.
27th Nov 2020 - The Guardian


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What the biopharma industry is doing to build confidence in Covid-19 vaccines

Over the last few weeks, the United States has surpassed 100,000 Covid-19 cases a day and reached the staggering milestone of 10 million cases. This is both sobering and humbling. While there has been encouraging news about progress in the development of Covid-19 vaccines, making sure that Americans have confidence in these vaccines is crucial to helping bend the curve of infections and getting us back to some semblance of normalcy. According to researchers writing in The Lancet, we will need a majority of Americans to have the confidence to get vaccinated for Covid-19 vaccines to be effective in moving the U.S. toward population-level control of viral spread. As Anthony Fauci has noted, “If you have a vaccine that is highly effective and not enough people get vaccinated, you’re not going to realize the full, important effect of having a vaccine.”
25th Nov 2020 - STAT News

Scientists ask to see evidence behind relaxing UK's Christmas Covid rules

Ministers are facing calls to publish scientific advice on the relaxing of Covid-19 rules over Christmas amid warnings that a single infectious guest could infect a third of those at a household gathering. Under rules revealed by the prime minister on Tuesday, up to three households can form a “bubble” for five days over Christmas. It prompted some scientists to speak out, warning that mixing will inevitably lead to an increase in infections come the new year, leading to deaths. Some said the government should have put greater emphasis on the dangers and potential control measures. Now experts have called for the government to release advice given by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Rapid COVID-19 tests provide lifeline for London orchestra

Maxine Kwok, a violinist in London’s oldest symphony orchestra, is delighted that rehearsals have resumed thanks to a rapid, lab-free COVID-19 test that gives the musicians the confidence to work together again. “It was so difficult not to play for months,” Kwok, a member of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), said after being tested. “But the moment that we were able to have this kind of testing at this regularity, meaning we could just come back to work and feel comfortable and safe, really made a huge difference for us,” Kwok told Reuters. “I was so thrilled. I can’t describe it really,” she added ahead of a rehearsal attended by around 40 musicians, all masked and still observing social distancing rules.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Limit contacts before Christmas bubbling, executive urges

People should limit their contact with others before Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed at Christmas, Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has said. Across the UK, three households can mix for five days from 23-27 December. However, Ms O'Neill said it was important to reduce Covid-19 transmission "as low as possible". First Minister Arlene Foster said the next two weeks "are crucial... so that we can all have the safest and the happiest Christmas possible".
26th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Antibody testing likely undercounts the number of people who have had COVID-19: More than 25% of infected health care workers had NO signs of it in their blood work 60 days later

CDC researchers found that 6% of more than 3,000 health care workers they tested had antibodies to coronavirus. Within 60 days, when they were retested 28% of the health care workers had antibody levels so low that they could no longer be detected. Researchers warn this suggests that using antibody testing likely undercounts how many people have had COVID-19 and that plasma has a short shelf life
26th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid vaccine trials did NOT monitor whether participants took other steps to prevent infection like wearing masks and social distancing

A participant in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine trials told Business Insider that the firm did not monitor the participants behavior if they didn't feel sick. Moderna also did not specify how to behave or track data on the participants' actions during its trial. It was left up to individuals to wear masks or socially distance - behaviors that are estimated to reduce the risk of spreading or catching COVID-19
26th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Untested, untraced: how three-quarters of Covid contacts slip through cracks

Statistics show how ‘world-beating’ tracing scheme fails to follow up on Covid-19 cases at every step. It was in May that Boris Johnson promised the UK would have a “world-beating” test-and-trace operation in place within weeks. “Our test-and-trace system is as good as, or better than, any other system anywhere in the world,” he doubled down in July. But nearly half a year after the system was established, thousands of Covid-19 cases still go undetected each week, leaving severe lockdown restrictions as the only option to prevent hospitals across the country from collapsing. The Guardian has analysed the latest figures on the performance of test and trace to show how people at risk of spreading the virus go missing at every step of the process.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian


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Potential COVID-19 surge following Thanksgiving could cause 'humanitarian crisis,' experts warn

As Americans prepare for what will likely be an untraditional Thanksgiving, health experts and state officials are pleading with the public to heed their warnings to not travel and to avoid large gatherings and the mixing of households, as the country tries to get ahold on what experts call an "uncontrolled" spread of the coronavirus. "If we layer in travel and large indoor gatherings which we know are drivers of transmission, we expect to see a massive surge on top of an already dire situation," said Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor, warning that such a surge could result in a "humanitarian crisis."
25th Nov 2020 - ABC news

Christmas UK lockdown lift: Dr Hilary Jones warns plan could spell disaster

Dr Hilary Jones has slammed the UK as a ‘weak nation’ if it feels like the five day Christmas lockdown lift is necessary. The Good Morning Britain medical expert has warned that the government’s plans for a five-day break from coronavirus lockdown rules over the festive period could have an enormous effect on the country going forward. Trying to break it down into simpler terms, he added that we could lose the advantage we currently have on keeping coronavirus contained. ‘I think controlling the virus is like trying to control your weight. It’s easy to put weight on, it’s very difficult to lose it,’ he explained.
25th Nov 2020 - Metro.co.uk

How do you exit a lockdown effectively? Listen to the experts

European countries enduring a second wave of COVID-19 have once again locked down. There are signs that these measures are curbing the spread of the coronavirus. But experts warn certain steps are necessary if Europe is to successfully exit this period of lockdown and avoid repeating past mistakes.
25th Nov 2020 - World Economic Forum

Lessons From Europe’s Covid Surge: Control Is Fragile and Losing It Is Easy

As Americans enter a period of peak travel among their states starting with Thanksgiving, new discoveries about how Europe’s second coronavirus wave spread provide an object lesson. Many European regions had made such gains against Covid-19 as to be cited as models. Those gains proved fragile: Unanticipated pockets of infection on the continent and a rush to relax rules allowed it to surge across Europe again. Much of Europe’s new wave can now be traced to outbreaks among agricultural workers living in cramped conditions in Spain’s Catalonia and Aragón regions, according to researchers from Switzerland and Spain. It spread to nearby cities and across Spain, then home with tourists.
25th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

How Do We Stop This Surge? Here's What Experts Say Could Help

As the U.S. wades deeper into a brutal fall surge of the coronavirus, Americans are living under a growing list of restrictions aimed at curbing the exponential rise of COVID-19. But given the unrelenting advance of the virus, can these varied approaches make a difference? Or is it delaying the inevitable return to the sweeping lockdowns of the springtime? "It's really hard to slow it down once it gets going like this," says Don Milton, professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. "That's when these awful draconian measures come into play."
25th Nov 2020 - NPR


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Hundreds in NYC line up to get tested for COVID-19 ahead of Thanksgiving

Hundreds lined up outside COVID testing facilities Tuesday morning before they even opened their doors. In Brooklyn, dozens flocked to CityMD facilities in the early hours with long lines snaking through Flatbush, Williamsburg and Bushwick. Wealthy New Yorkers are avoiding the wait by paying line-waiters $80 an hour to line up on their behalf. Gov. Cuomo warned New Yorkers in a press conference Tuesday not to be fooled by one negative test result. Americans across the country are clamoring to get COVID tests as they ignore the pleas of public health experts to cancel Thanksgiving travel plans
24th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

UK health minister says test and trace can't control COVID-19 alone

British health minister Matt Hancock said that ‘test and trace’ can not control coronavirus in the way that an effective system of mass testing can, as he defended the performance of the heavily criticised contact-tracing system. The test and trace system was inefficient and slow, Reuters found after speaking to tracers and analysing the data, making it inadequate to avoid a second wave and a new English national lockdown which started on Nov 5. “The test and trace programme, ahead of the second lockdown, was functioning to reduce transmission enormously,” Hancock told lawmakers. “By the time of the second lockdown, it had already broken the chains of transmission hundreds of thousands of times.”
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Pets at Home says pets have been 'a lifesaver' during lockdown

Animals have been "a lifesaver" for people struggling during Covid lockdown, according to retailer Pets at Home which has seen sales rise sharply. Chief executive Peter Pritchard said pets had played "an incredibly important role" through a period of "social loneliness". He added that during the early days of lockdown one of the few reasons people could go out "was to walk your dog". In the six months to 8 October, Pets at Home saw revenues rise by 5.1%.
24th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Special Report: 50,000 COVID-19 deaths and rising. How Britain failed to stop the second wave

Faced with one of the highest death tolls from the first wave of the coronavirus, Boris Johnson pledged a “world-beating” test-and-trace system to prevent a resurgence this winter. A Reuters investigation reveals how that promise came unstuck.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters


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New Zealand leader Ardern offers virus know-how to Joe Biden

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus. Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden spoke very favorably about how New Zealand was handling the pandemic. “What has been really at the center of our response has been some fundamentals around testing, contact tracing, isolation,” Ardern said. “That’s over and above what we’ve done at our borders.”
23rd Nov 2020 - The Independent

New Zealand study details COVID-19 spread on long-haul flight despite tests

A recent case study details COVID-19 transmission on a New Zealand long-haul flight, even with negative pre-departure testing results and social distancing requirements. The 12-page report, released by New Zealand health officials last weekFriday, follows a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to one passenger traveling on an 18-hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand in September. Though the traveler tested negative with a PCR test before the flight, researchers concluded that "at least four in-flight transmission events of SARS-CoV-2 likely took place" as the pre-symptomatic yet contagious person infected at least four others. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.
23rd Nov 2020 - USA Today

Covid-19: Daily coronavirus test plan to cut contacts' 14-day self-isolation

Daily coronavirus tests will be offered to close contacts of people who have tested positive in England, as a way to reduce the current 14-day quarantine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people will be offered tests every day for a week - and they will not need to isolate unless they test positive. He also said rapid tests will allow every care home resident to have up to two visitors tested twice a week. Labour welcomed increased testing but raised concerns over test-and-trace. The chairman of the Independent Care Group which represents independent care homes, Mike Padgham, said the government was being "rather ambitious".
23rd Nov 2020 - BBC News

China tests millions after coronavirus flareups in 3 cities

Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools after multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases were discovered in three cities across the country last week. As temperatures drop, widescale measures are being enacted in Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli, even though the number of new cases remains low compared to the United States and other countries that are seeing new waves of infections. Experts and government officials have warned that the chance of the virus spreading will be greater in cold weather. Recent flareups have shown that there is still a risk of the virus returning, despite being largely controlled within China.
23rd Nov 2020 - The Associated Press

Study: Mask Mandates Boost the Economy

Opponents of COVID-19 restrictions often claim preventative rules would hurt the economy, but a new study finds that statewide mask mandates can actually be a benefit. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that researchers from the University of Utah business school determined that mask orders make consumers feel better about shopping—so they visit more stores and spend more time in each one. The study authors found statewide mandates were more helpful to the local economy than county orders. “The thing that really pops out,” professor Nathan Seegert said, “is that statewide mask mandates are much more effective at both saving lives and livelihoods.”
23rd Nov 2020 - Daily Beast

Doctors say CDC should warn people the side effects from Covid vaccine shots won't be 'a walk in the park'

The CDC must be transparent about the side effects people may experience after getting their first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, doctors urged during a meeting Monday with CDC advisors. Dr. Sandra Fryhofer said that both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines require two doses and she worries whether her patients will come back for a second dose because of potentially unpleasant side effects after the first shot. Both companies acknowledged that their vaccines could induce side effects that are similar to symptoms associated with mild Covid-19, such as muscle pain, chills and headache.
23rd Nov 2020 - CNBC


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Britons ‘to receive freedom passes if they pass two Covid tests a week’

Britons could be given special 'freedom passes' if they test negative for coronavirus twice a week. Passholders would have to show that they have been regularly tested with an electronic form, it has been reported. The pass, which could take the form of a QR code, would allow holders to live a relatively normal life. Boris Johnson is said to be set to unveil the scheme on Monday when he launches the Government's Covid Winter Plan.
22nd Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

More States Offer Covid-19 Contact-Tracing Apps, But Adoption Is Uneven

Covid-19 contact-tracing apps from Apple Inc. and Google are coming to more states, along with evidence that they can help slow infections as long as enough people use them. Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have recently adopted the “exposure notification” technology the companies built into their smartphone operating systems—Big Tech’s most significant contribution to the fight against Covid-19. California, and other states are piloting the technology and could release it soon.
21st Nov 2020 - Wall Street Journal

Wisconsin governor renews mask mandate despite court challenge as pandemic worsens

Wisconsin’s governor on Friday extended a statewide mask mandate despite a legal challenge from conservatives, renewing an emergency health order requiring face coverings in public spaces to curb an alarming surge in COVID-19 infections.
21st Nov 2020 - Reuters

Lockdowns could be avoided if 95% of people wore masks, says WHO

Lockdowns could be avoided if everyone followed health measures such as wearing masks, the World Health Organization's top Europe official said at a Thursday news briefing. WHO Europe's Regional Director Hans Kluge stressed that lockdowns should be a "last resort," and urged the public to follow guidance to help to prevent deaths. He said that if 95% of people wore masks, instead of the current 60%, "lockdowns would not be needed" -- although he added that mask use was not a "panacea" and needed to be combined with other measures. "If we all do our share, lockdowns are avoidable," Kluge said.
19th Nov 2020 - CNN


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Lockdowns could be avoided if 95% of people wore masks, says WHO

Lockdowns could be avoided if everyone followed health measures such as wearing masks, the World Health Organization's top Europe official said at a Thursday news briefing. WHO Europe's Regional Director Hans Kluge stressed that lockdowns should be a "last resort," and urged the public to follow guidance to help to prevent deaths. He said that if 95% of people wore masks, instead of the current 60%, "lockdowns would not be needed" -- although he added that mask use was not a "panacea" and needed to be combined with other measures. "If we all do our share, lockdowns are avoidable," Kluge said.
19th Nov 2020 - CNN

Covid-19: St Andrews University to roll out free tests for students before Christmas

St Andrews University students will be offered free Covid-19 tests before they head home to visit family at Christmas. People without symptoms, will be able to get a test whether or not they plan to leave St Andrews over the festive break. They will be voluntary but students have been strongly advised to take them as young people are more likely to have no symptoms, even if they have the virus. The university plans to open a testing centre it its own sports centre by November 30. Students will be offered a lateral-flow test, which involves taking a swab from the mouth and nose in a process that takes just a few minutes. Results will be received within 24 hours.
19th Nov 2020 - The Courier

Robin Swann aims to push for an 'ambitious' mass Covid-19 testing programme

The Health Minister has said Northern Ireland should push for a mass testing system as seen in Liverpool, but warned such an ambitious plan would take time. Speaking at a Stormont health briefing on Wednesday, Robin Swann said he had already raised the issue with Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Mr Swann added that rapid progress on a Covid-19 vaccine could bring hope by the spring, but further restrictions before Christmas would still be inevitable. It comes as the Department of Health confirmed a further 11 Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 889.
19th Nov 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

A gym trainer exposed 50 athletes to Covid-19, but no one else got sick because of a ventilation redesign

A Virginia gym owner thought she had a nightmare scenario on her hands when she learned that 50 athletes were potentially exposed to Covid-19 particles by one of the gym's coaches. But not a single member ended up contracting the virus, thanks to the extra safety precautions and ventilation measures she put in place. Velvet Minnick, 44, is the owner and head coach at 460 Fitness in Blacksburg, Virginia. Like many gym owners across the nation, she was forced to shut down the facility in March due to coronavirus. They rented out equipment and held Zoom classes, but it wasn't long before members were burned out. As the state entered Phase 2 of reopening in June, Minnick was allowed to have athletes back inside her facility. She knew one member, however, who could help her get people back while keeping them safe.
19th Nov 2020 - CNN

Social connections with COVID-19–affected areas increase compliance with mobility restrictions

We study the role of social connections in compliance of U.S. households with mobility restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data on social connections and mobile phone data for measuring social distancing at the county level. Relative to the average restriction efficacy, a county with one-SD more social connections with China and Italy—the first countries with major COVID-19 outbreaks—has a nearly 50% higher compliance with mobility restrictions. By contrast, social connections of counties with less-educated populations, a higher Trump vote share, and a higher fraction of climate change deniers show decreased compliance with mobility restrictions. Our analysis suggests that social connections are conduits of information about the pandemic and an economically important factor affecting compliance with, and impact of, mobility restrictions.
19th Nov 2020 - Science Advances


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Covid vaccines should not be seen as 'unicorn' solution, says WHO chief – video

Michael Ryan, the head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme, has said that while vaccines are effective tools, they are not the lone solution to ending the coronavirus pandemic. ‘Some people think that vaccines will be, in a sense, the solution, the unicorn we’ve all been chasing,’ he said during a virtual briefing in Geneva on Wednesday, warning other measures such as social distancing needed to be maintained. It comes after positive efficacy results from late-stage trials of two potential Covid-19 vaccines
19th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

COVID-19: People told to open windows this winter to decrease coronavirus risk

People are being encouraged to open their windows this winter to decrease the risk of catching coronavirus. The Department for Health has released a video showing how virus particles linger in enclosed spaces. It also shows how letting fresh air in can reduce the risk of infection by more than 70%. Coronavirus is spread through the air by droplets and smaller particles known as aerosols when they are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they breathe, speak or cough.
18th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Smoking causes three times as many cells to be infected with coronavirus, lab study suggests – despite array of research showing that it may cut the risk of getting COVID-19

UCLA researchers created models of human airways from donor stem cells Exposed some to smoke and compared impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection Found those exposed to cigarettes had three times as many cells infected Also discovered the smoke inhibits function of interferons which help the body fight the virus
18th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Danish study finds face masks provide limited protection to wearer

A Danish study released on Wednesday found face masks provide the wearer with only limited protection against COVID-19 infection, but said this should not be used to argue against their widespread use to prevent people infecting others. In the study, which was carried out in April and May when Danish authorities did not recommend wearing face masks, 6,024 adults were divided into two groups, one wearing face masks and one control group.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters


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Wash hands, use the app and avoid a Christmas lockdown

As 2020’s finishing post shuffles into view, a casual query among friends about what they fear the most in the lead up to Christmas elicits a unanimous, reflexive response. Lockdown. A regional or nationwide Level 3 or 4 plunge, right on the holiday doorstep, knocking the stuffing out of your Christmas turkey. Hopefully, the spectre of such bad tidings won’t play out, but it’s clear that we still have many months of maintaining our heightened defensive posture in repelling the menace of this pandemic from taking root in the community.
17th Nov 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

American, British Airways, OneWorld to trial COVID-19 tests

American Airlines, British Airways, and the oneworld alliance will launch a coronavirus testing trial this month aimed at convincing the U.S. and UK governments to introduce testing so that transatlantic travel can restart. BA was operating 84 flights per week between London Heathrow and New York JFK prior to the pandemic, but last week operated just 21. BA CEO Sean Doyle said that without a travel testing regime, Britain was being left behind countries such as Germany. Alongside its partners, BA plans to collect data from at least 500 passengers on flights from three U.S. cities to London Heathrow by asking them to take three free COVID-19 tests as part of their journey: one before departure, one on landing, and one three days after their arrival.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

NIH head: Masks are 'lifesaving medical instrument' not 'invasion of your personal freedom'

The head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is urging the public to abide by safety guidelines and socially distance, saying that while recent results for COVID-19 vaccine candidates are "encouraging," people must take extra precautions for at least "a few more months." The comments from NIH director Francis Collins come as pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna recently announced that their vaccine candidates were shown to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing the coronavirus. Collins told Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour on Monday that he felt “extremely encouraged” by the results and said “we're pretty optimistic that we're on a good path.”
17th Nov 2020 - The Hill

Mouthwash can kill COVID-19 in 30 seconds: Study

Over-the-counter mouthwash can kill coronavirus within 30 seconds of exposure, a study has found. Scientists at Cardiff University discovered mouthwash containing at least 0.07 percent cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) showed “promising signs” of reducing transmission of the virus. Their preliminary report, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, supports a study published last week that found mouthwash containing CPC helps in reducing the viral load of people infected with the coronavirus. It comes ahead of a clinical trial on patients at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff to find out whether mouthwash can reduce coronavirus in a patient’s saliva. The findings are expected to be published in early 2021. Dentyl is the only UK mouthwash brand that is part of the clinical trial led by Professor David Thomas from Cardiff University.
17th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English


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St. Louis Is So Overwhelmed With Covid-19 It’s Asking People To Do Their Own Contact Tracing

As health officials across the country struggle with dwindling resources amid a third resurgence of the coronavirus, St. Louis said Monday the county is so overwhelmed with Covid-19 it no longer has enough capacity for contact tracing.
16th Nov 2020 - Forbes

Using contact tracing app 'strongest form of defence' against another lockdown - Shaun Hendy

Speaking on TVNZ1's Breakfast the University of Auckland data modelling expert warned a potential two week period of new community cases of the coronavirus, which authorities can't get on top of, could put New Zealand into lockdown. Hendy said he believed Auckland particularly had become complacent before a woman who lives, studies and works in the central city was confirmed as having Covid-19 last week - a case of community transmission. The woman has been linked to the Defence Force cluster and one of her close contacts was confirmed as having contracted the virus yesterday.
16th Nov 2020 - 1News

Visitor Covid-19 testing launched in care homes under pilot

A pilot to provide Covid-19 tests to designated friends and family of those living in care homes has today been launched across Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon. The move, which aims to help facilitate indoor visits and even physical contact between care home residents and their patients
16th Nov 2020 - Nursing Times

Covid-19: New 'mega labs' in early 2021 to speed up testing

Two new "mega labs" will open in early 2021 with the aim of doubling the UK's daily coronavirus testing capacity, the government has said. The sites - at Leamington Spa in the Midlands and another at an unconfirmed site in Scotland - will increase testing capacity by 600,000. The latest data shows current capacity is around 519,000 - although the number of tests actually processed is lower. Meanwhile, Labour is calling for a national plan to roll out the vaccine. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the vaccination programme will probably be the largest logistical operation since World War Two - and called for a plan setting out who will be eligible for a jab and when.
16th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Tempus and Yale Announce Research Collaboration to Accelerate COVID-19 Test Development

Tempus, a leader in artificial intelligence and precision medicine, and the Yale School of Public Health announced a research collaboration to accelerate the development of COVID-19 diagnostic tests in the U.S. This partnership will leverage SalivaDirectTM, a saliva-based laboratory diagnostic test that has been developed by researchers at Yale. Tempus and Yale will further develop SalivaDirectTM to enable home sample collection and to combine COVID-19 and influenza testing of saliva samples. Simple and affordable at-home sample collection is seen as instrumental to providing Americans with more testing options to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Testing for both the novel coronavirus and influenza from the same sample has been described as a key priority to reduce the impact of both diseases during winter months.
16th Nov 2020 - Business Wire

South Korea to tighten social distancing, warns of new COVID-19 crisis

South Korea will impose stricter social distancing rules for the greater Seoul area a month after easing them, officials said on Tuesday, warning of an even bigger crisis if anti-COVID-19 efforts fail to dampen a spike in new cases. Starting Tuesday midnight, tighter curbs will ban public gatherings of 100 people or more, limit religious services and audiences at sporting events to 30% capacity, and require high-risk facilities including clubs and karaoke bars to broaden distance among guests. South Korea has been one of the world’s coronavirus mitigation success stories after tackling the first major COVID-19 epidemic outside China with aggressive tracing and testing, but continues to battle persistent rises in infections. The tougher restrictions came as the daily case tally hovered above 200 for a fourth consecutive day, with a series of cluster outbreaks emerging from offices, medical facilities and small gatherings in Seoul and surrounding regions where around half of the country’s 52 million population live.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


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BioNTech vaccine scientist says jab could halve Covid transmission

The scientist behind the first potential Covid-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials says he is “very confident” the jab will reduce transmission of the disease, perhaps by 50%, resulting in a “dramatic” reduction in cases. The German company BioNTech and the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer announced to worldwide acclaim last week that their jointly developed vaccine candidate appeared to be 90% effective in stopping people from falling ill. Uğur Şahin, the chief executive of BioNTech, said he expected that further analysis would show that the jab is also effective in stopping spread of the disease, but probably not by as much as 90%. Certainty around its impact will not come until next year, he added.
15th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

How Australia brought the coronavirus pandemic under control

Kim Laurie worked as a florist for a quarter of a century before opening her own shop in Melbourne in July, just before the city was engulfed by a second wave of Covid-19 cases. Within weeks, Australia’s second-biggest city was reporting 700 new cases a day and Victoria’s state government imposed a second lockdown. “It was really devastating as I had no choice but to close the doors of the business for several weeks,” said Ms Laurie. Her flower shop is one of thousands of businesses hit hard by home confinement and nightly curfews, which lasted 112-days and have become hallmarks of Australia’s hardline approach to combating the pandemic. Corporate leaders have criticised the measures as too strict and economically damaging. But the zero tolerance strategy worked: no new locally transmitted cases have been reported in Victoria since the lockdown was lifted two weeks ago.
13th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

COVID-19: Two new testing 'mega labs' planned for 2021

Two new "mega labs" to turnaround 600,000 coronavirus tests a day are planned for next year, as Boris Johnson tries to draw a line under losing two key advisers. The prime minister will make a "series of critical announcements", Number 10 said, following the sudden departure of aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. And in a bid to shore up support from "red wall" Tory MPs, he will hold a meeting with the so-called Northern Research Group today to "listen to their ideas" and convey his commitment to "levelling up".
15th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Controversial US data firm Palantir could manage UK’s ailing Test and Trace scheme

US data analysis company Palantir Technologies could be drafted in to manage the UK government’s troubled COVID-19 Test and Trace programme, according to press reports. Palantir has been linked with the project for several weeks and the Financial Times is the latest to suggest that the company could get involved with the troubled project. Palantir was founded in 2003 by a team including paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and the company’s billionaire CEO Alex Karp. Taking its name from the “seeing stones” in The Lord of the Rings, Palantir is known for counter-terrorism work and fraud investigation with agencies of the US federal government.
14th Nov 2020 - pharmaphorum.com

Asia Today: S. Korea begins fining people not wearing masks

South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in 70 days as the government began fining people who fail to wear masks in public. The 191 new cases Friday represented the sixth consecutive day above 100 and was the highest daily increase since Sept. 4, when authorities reported 198 new infections. More than 120 of the cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, where the coronavirus has spread in hospitals, nursing homes, churches, schools, restaurants and offices. The continuing spread has alarmed government officials, who have eased social distancing measures to soften the pandemic’s shock on the economy.
13th Nov 2020 - Associated Press

Britain to pilot COVID-19 tests for care home visitors

Visitors to care homes in parts of England will be able to get tested for COVID-19 under a new pilot plan aimed at reducing onerous restrictions in time for Christmas, the health ministry said Saturday. With England under lockdown until December, care home visits can still go ahead in certain circumstances, but official guidance states that screens, windows or “visiting pods” should be used to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. “I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time,” health minister Matt Hancock said.
13th Nov 2020 - The Japan Times

How Do I Clean And Maintain A Reusable COVID-19 Mask? : Goats and Soda

Does putting a reusable mask in the oven for 30 minutes at 165 degrees Fahrenheit kill the virus that causes COVID-19 and other pathogens? If not, how do I clean it? The good news: Yes, baking your cloth or synthetic mask would probably kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Several studies have shown that the virus dies when exposed to 158 degrees Fahrenheit for a length of time somewhere between 2 1/2 minutes and an hour. The bad news: It may also singe your mask.
13th Nov 2020 - NPR

Covid-19: Lockdowns Return and North Dakota Issues Mask Mandate as Records Fall

After months of resisting ordering the people of North Dakota to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings, the state’s Republican governor relented in an effort to stem a coronavirus surge that is among the worst in the U.S. and that threatens to overwhelm the state’s hospitals. Gov. Doug Burgum’s executive order Friday night came as a surprise and only hours before the state recorded new daily records for hospitalizations and infections. Throughout the pandemic, the former software executive had been leaving it to individuals to take personal responsibility for slowing the spread of the virus, beseeching the public during his weekly press briefings to wear masks but emphasizing a “light touch” by government.
13th Nov 2020 - Associated Press


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Pharma companies must open their books on the funding agreements for covid-19 vaccines

Recently, the Financial Times reported that there is an important limitation to pharmaceutical corporation AstraZeneca’s not-for-profit promises on the production of their covid-19 vaccine. With hundreds of other vaccines under development, supported by an exceptional level of public funding, this is a cause for concern. Pharmaceutical corporations must open their books, make all funding and licensing agreements public, and substantiate any no-profit claims with data. We know that pharma does not tend to share this information willingly, so it is time for governments to take charge, demand transparency, and put their commitments to equitable access of covid-19 vaccines into action. As someone working on innovation and access to healthcare issues for Médecins Sans Frontières, an international medical humanitarian organisation, and a person living with cystic fibrosis who is at high risk of severe covid-19, we can see how groundbreaking a safe, effective, and affordable covid-19 vaccine would be in our joint global journey towards normality.
12th Nov 2020 - The BMJ

How China claimed victory over the coronavirus

Millions have been tested in response to recent outbreaks and Chinese infections are well below many other countries. Lockdowns and mass testing are China’s main weapons in the fight against the pandemic
12th Nov 2020 - South China Morning Post

Where COVID lurks: Restaurants and gyms are behind infection surge and where you're most likely to catch virus, while malls, convenience stores and pharmacies are all low-risk, cell phone tracking data suggests

A computer model analyzed 10 cities and looked at where people go during the day, how long they stay and the occupancy. It found most COVID-19 occur at 'superspreader' sites, such as coffee shops, full-service restaurants and gyms Keeping department stores, convenience stores, gas stations and pharmacies open contributed relatively few additional infections. Next, they created trade off charts to determine how limited occupancy could reduce infection risk. In Chicago, reopening at 100% occupancy would lead to nearly 3.5 million cases but a 20% occupancy cap would only lead to about 500,000 new infections. In Los Angeles, full capacity would lead to more than three million new cases but limiting occupancy reduce the number of infections by 75%
10th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Spanish government to reduce sales tax on face masks from 21% to 4%

Spain will reduce the rate of sales tax on face masks from 21% to 4%, said the government on Wednesday. Finance Minister and government spokesperson María Jesús Montero said in Congress yesterday that the Cabinet will approve a decree next week reducing the value added tax (VAT) on these products, which are mandatory in public spaces for everyone aged six and above. The compulsory use of face masks has been in place for months, as Spain continues to struggle to curb the spread of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the number of reported single-day fatalities reached 411, a number unseen since the days of the full lockdown in the spring.
12th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Spain will require a negative COVID test for residents of high-risk countries starting Nov. 23

Travellers bound for Spain from countries considered high-risk areas for the coronavirus will be asked to provide proof of a negative test to visit the European country, authorities said Wednesday. Starting Nov. 23, travellers to Spain will be required to submit a negative test result from within 72 hours prior to their planned departure. They will be able to do so via the internet, a smartphone application, or with a document before boarding a plane or boat. The proof of being virus-free before traveling will come on top of the temperature checks performed on arriving passengers at Spain’s airports and ports. The measure will apply to countries designated as “high risk.”
12th Nov 2020 - USA Today

COVID-19: Test and Trace still missing four in 10 contacts of those who tested positive

Test and Trace reached 60.4% of contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus in the week ending 4 November, latest figures show. This is slightly up on the previous week's figure of 59.9%, making it one of the lowest rates since the scheme began. Figures also show that 149,253 people tested positive for coronavirus at least once in England in the same week - the highest weekly number since the system was launched in May, and an 8% increase on the previous week.
12th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Covid-19: Government faces legal action over £75m contract for antibody tests

Legal action has been launched over the UK government’s award of a £75m (€84m; $99m) contract for one million antibody tests to a business consortium, alleging that the deal unlawfully bypassed safeguards protecting taxpayers’ money. Judicial review proceedings issued on 11 November by the Good Law Project, a not-for-profit legal organisation, say that the government was actively involved in setting up the UK Rapid Test Consortium and gave it £10m to buy components to manufacture testing kits. The contract to purchase the AbC-19 Rapid Tests was signed without a public tender and without evaluating the accuracy of the tests, the action says. This, the Good Law Project claim argues, raises serious concerns about the maladministration of public funds. A study1 published in The BMJ this week questions the accuracy of the AbC-19 test and suggests that, if used in real life settings, the test would result in a large number of false positive results. These conclusions contrast with an earlier (not yet peer reviewed) study suggesting that the test gave no false positive results.
12th Nov 2020 - BMJ


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Covid-19 face masks with valves don’t work

Wearing a face mask helps stop the spread of coronavirus and keep others safe, unless it has a valve on it. New research has revealed how ineffective these types of masks are. High speed cameras have been used to capture the air flow from an uncovered mouth alongside two different kinds of face mask. As the video above shows, the type of mask with a valve on it still allows a jet of virus-containing air to escape.
11th Nov 2020 - Metro

Covid-19: Liverpool mass-trial sees 23,000 tested with 154 positive

More than 23,000 people have been tested for Covid-19 in Liverpool's mass trial with 154 testing positive. City mayor Joe Anderson said 23,170 people have been tested since midday on Friday with 0.7% testing positive. Those testing positive had no symptoms, testers said. All residents and workers in Liverpool have been offered tests. There are 18 test centres - including Liverpool's Anfield stadium - and Mr Anderson said there had been a "great response" from people. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had urged all the city's 500,000 residents to take part, saying "do it for your friends, for your relatives, for your community" in a bid to drive the disease down".
11th Nov 2020 - BBC News

West Indies cricket squad stripped of training rights due to New Zealand COVID-19 protocol breach

The West Indies cricket squad has been stripped of the right to train while in managed isolation after players were found to have breached rules around their 14-day quarantine. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said CCTV footage from the team’s Christchurch hotel showed players mingling in hallways and sharing food in violation of managed isolation regulations. The ministry said all incidents occurred within the hotel and there was no danger to the public. The West Indies squad, which has completed 12 of its scheduled 14 days of isolation under COVID-19 regulations, will not be able to train again until its full managed isolation period has been completed. The isolation period might be extended if any further concerns arise, the ministry said. West Indies Cricket chief executive Johnny Grave told New Zealand media it is “hugely disappointing that players that knew the protocol completely broke that.”
11th Nov 2020 - The West Australian


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There may be a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, but 'normality' may not come until end of 2021

A COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be authorized before the end of the year, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to throw away your mask anytime soon. Rolling out a vaccine to everyone who wants one will take months in the U.S., not to mention the rest of the world. And while vaccines are essential tools for fighting a pandemic like COVID-19, they don't fix everything.
10th Nov 2020 - USA TODAY on MSN.com

CDC now says masks protect both the wearers and those around them from Covid-19

Wearing a mask can help protect you, not just those around you, from coronavirus transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new guidance Tuesday. The statement was an update to previous guidance suggesting the main benefit of mask wearing was to help prevent infected people from spreading the virus to others. Cloth masks act as "source control" to block virus particles exhaled by the wearer and provide "filtration for personal protection" by blocking incoming infectious droplets from others, the CDC said in its new guidance.
11th Nov 2020 - CNN

Nearly one in five Covid patients later diagnosed with mental illness – study

Nearly one in five people who have had Covid-19 are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, depression or insomnia within three months of testing positive for the virus, according to a study that suggests action is needed to mitigate the mental health toll of the pandemic. The analysis – conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre – also found that people with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 than those without, even accounting for known risk factors such as age, sex, race, and underlying physical conditions. “This finding was unexpected and needs investigation. In the meantime, having a psychiatric disorder should be added to the list of risk factors for Covid-19,” said Dr Max Taquet, an NIHR academic clinical fellow and one of the authors of the analysis.
10th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

FEATURE-Trackers to mask detectors: India bets on COVID tech amid privacy fears

From a tracker that can tell where someone sleeps at night to a device detecting whether they have a mask on or not, India's government is betting on hi-tech solutions to fight COVID-19, despite growing privacy concerns.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Unpacking the legal and ethical aspects of South Africa's COVID-19 track and trace app

The most effective way to stop the spread of a virus is to prevent contact with everyone who is infected. Those who are infected can be isolated and treated if necessary. To determine who they are, it’s necessary to actively look for and manage cases. During the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging technologies are being repurposed to help trace whoever has been in contact with an infected person. Some of these technologies, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), wi-fi and Bluetooth, are not new. GPS has been used to find accident victims at precise geographic locations. Some of the uses of wi-fi are oxygen monitoring devices, smart beds, access to electronic medical records and real-time access to X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging scans.
10th Nov 2020 - The Conversation Africa

Nepal to offer free COVID-19 tests and treatment as cases surge

Nepal will provide free COVID-19 tests and treatment for everyone, an aide to the prime minister said on Tuesday, as the total number of infections was set to cross the 200,000 mark. The move follows a Supreme Court order for free treatment last week after the Communist government asked citizens who could afford to pay to do so, limiting free testing and care to only those who couldn’t.
10th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Screening the healthy population for covid-19 is of unknown value, but is being introduced nationwide

Subsequently it was reported that the UK government had abandoned plans for Operation Moonshot. Yet, on Tuesday 3 November it was reported that Moonshot Phase 1 has actually begun in Liverpool. According to the City Council’s website “everyone who lives or works in the city” is eligible for regular and repeat testing from 6 November by attending one of 14 army-run test centres over the course of two weeks. [3] The website says this is the beginning of national roll out and “will help to demonstrate that massive asymptomatic testing can identify far more cases and break the transmission of coronavirus.” The army is conducting testing for 11 to 18 year olds in schools, and a letter to parents from one school head advised “if you wish to exclude your child from this test please do so to me in writing by first thing on Monday morning.” Screening for under-11s is not mentioned. Official communication to residents has been through news announcements, appealing to public duty and claiming that the test detects “infectiousness.” Little or no information is provided about the nature and limitations of the test(s) being performed and Public Health England are keeping the results of their studies of the accuracy of the test confidential. No information has been given to participants to explain whether the project is actually research, or how personal data will be held and used. An assumption is made that everyone has a smart phone.
10th Nov 2020 - BMJ

Covid-19: NHS England should manage test and trace system, says Independent SAGE

The Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent SAGE) has renewed its call for urgent reform of the government’s covid-19 test and trace system,1 urging that it be replaced by a system overseen by the NHS to avoid future lockdowns. Independent SAGE showed that 1 217 214 contacts have been reached by England’s NHS Test and Trace service since May at an approximate cost of £10 000 (€11 000; $13 000) per head so far, based on the government’s commitment to spend £12bn on a tracking system. Contact tracing in the national service is provided by the private companies Serco and Sitel. Latest figures show that the number of contacts traced has remained stagnant at around 60%. However, Kit Yates of the University of Bath concluded after analysing government data that only 14% of those who provided contacts have been reached and advised to quarantine. “We know that not everyone is isolating, because it’s not practical for people and they’re not being supported effectively,” he said, projecting that only 5-10% of those told to isolate are doing so.
10th Nov 2020 - BMJ

UK to roll out twice-weekly testing for health service staff

Britain will start rolling out twice-a-week COVID-19 tests to all National Health Service (NHS) staff from Tuesday, health minister Matt Hancock said, in order to protect patients and health workers. “(Rapid) tests allow us, from today, to begin rolling out twice-weekly testing for all NHS staff, which will help keep people safe when they go into hospital, and help keep my wonderful colleagues in the NHS safe too,” Hancock told parliament.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters


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As Covid-19 cases drop, South Korea revises physical distancing guidelines

South Korea has eased its level of physical distancing regulations – even though authorities are concerned that the Covid-19 virus could spread more easily during the coming winter season. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the move was made as the average daily number of new cases has remained below 100 over the past week. It has introduced a revised five-tier scheme, which took effect on Saturday, and is based on the average number of daily infections per week. The new system divides the nation into seven zones and allows provincial governments to decide the level of their own physical distancing regulations in line with the number of new infections in their respective regions.
9th Nov 2020 - New Straits Times

Israel tests passengers from Denmark for new mutated coronavirus

Israel said on Monday it would test people arriving from Denmark for a new mutated strain of coronavirus stemming from Danish mink farms, and ask them to self-isolate. The health ministry issued the statement after unconfirmed reports by N12 News and other media that three Israelis returning from Denmark were suspected of having been infected with the new strain. “The likelihood of a patient carrying the mutation arriving in Israel is low ... At the same time we are exercising extra caution,” the ministry said.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19: Biden pleads ‘wear a mask’ ahead of ‘very dark winter’

US President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation after meeting with his transition coronavirus advisory board on Monday, calling for unity and simple steps to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said, “Please, I implore you, wear a mask” during the speech in Wilmington, Delaware. He noted masks could save the lives of older people, children and teachers and added: “It could even save your own life.” Biden became the projected winner of the US presidential election on Saturday, after Pennsylvania was called for the former vice president. Biden is currently projected to have 290 Electoral College votes, more than the 270 required for victory, according to The Associated Press news agency. Trump currently sits at 214, with Alaska and North Carolina still not called but favouring the president. Georgia too close to call and the small margin will trigger an automatic recount.
9th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English


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Covid-19 mass testing in Liverpool to be extended to secondary school pupils

The mass Covid-19 testing in Liverpool will be extended to secondary school pupils within days, it has now been agreed. Parents of pupils aged 11-18 will be sent letters asking if they are willing to consent to their child receiving a test.
8th Nov 2020 - Liverpool Echo

UK and others look for lessons from Slovakia's Covid mass-testing project

Authorities in Slovakia say they hope a nationwide programme in which two-thirds of the country’s population were tested for Covid-19 in just two days last weekend will halve the number of cases of the virus in the country. The Slovak testing programme has drawn interest from across Europe, as debates continue about whether or not blanket testing is the best way to fight coronavirus. A Downing Street team travelled to Slovakia last weekend to witness the testing, keen to draw lessons before a mass testing programme due to be launched in Liverpool this weekend. Slovak officials said the team included two Downing Street advisers and two people responsible for arranging the UK’s large-scale testing programme in Liverpool.
8th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: How thousands died of Covid-19 they caught in hospitals

During the first wave of the pandemic, patients who went into hospital to be treated for conditions unrelated to Covid were infected and died. Hospital-acquired infections accounted for one in ten Covid deaths. Though the figures relate to all deaths from Covid from March 1 to August 31, experts are calling for action to protect the public as the problem is 'ongoing'
8th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Queen Elizabeth II wears mask at tribute to Unknown Warrior

Queen Elizabeth II donned a face mask in public for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic when attending a brief ceremony at Westminster Abbey last week to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior. While the 94-year-old monarch has been seen in public on several occasions over the past few months, she had not been pictured wearing a face covering until now. On Wednesday, during her first public engagement in London since March, she wore a black mask that was edged with white. Pictures of the ceremony were officially released late Saturday.
8th Nov 2020 - The Associated Press

Coronavirus: Greece reintroduce SMS authorisation for movement as country enters second lockdown

Residents in Greece will need to obtain permission before leaving their homes as the country's second lockdown comes into force. Similar to measures adopted during the first lockdown, people will be required to send a text message to a five-digit number, providing their name, address and the reason why they need to leave their house. The country's digital governance minister announced the permissible reasons on Thursday.
7th Nov 2020 - Sky News


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Working in an office instead of remotely may double COVID risk: CDC

Employees in office settings may be more likely to become infected with the novel coronavirus if they regularly commute to work rather than work from home, according to a new report. Public health investigators who examined possible exposures to COVID-19 among employed adults found that workers who tested positive for COVID-19 were almost twice as likely to report regularly commuting to work, compared with the employees studied who tested negative, according to research published Thursday as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
5th Nov 2020 - ABC News

Minister blames public for second English lockdown

The second national lockdown in England has been caused in part by a lack of public compliance, the justice secretary has said, adding that it will be a “huge challenge” to get the public to follow the strict rules this time. Robert Buckland suggested the public had failed to adhere to the previous system, leading to the need for the four-week lockdown starting on Thursday in England. “That’s one of the reasons we are having to take the measures we are today,” the cabinet minister told the BBC. “Sadly, it’s been difficult frankly regarding the compliance of some people with regard to the quarantine restrictions. “I think it would be very ambitious of me to suggest that somehow we will be able to use the enforcement authorities to intervene in every case I think sadly that’s not possible.”
5th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Lloyds asks its 1400 branches to help find COVID-19 trial volunteers

Lloydspharmacy is encouraging its teams to help find suitable patients for an Oxford University COVID-19 clinical trial, C+D has learned. Lloydspharmacy teams will be asked to display a poster of the PRINCIPLE COVID-19 trial – run by the University of Oxford – in their pharmacies, and “engage with customers and patients where they can about the project”, a spokesperson told C+D last week (October 29). The multiple will use its network of more than 1,400 pharmacies to raise awareness of the trial – which is evaluating whether the use of two common antibiotics, azithromycin and doxycycline, can help people with COVID-19 symptoms recover at home.
5th Nov 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

Test and trace sinks to 60% of Covid-19 contacts reached in England

A total of 137,180 people in England tested positive for Covid-19 in the week ending 28 October, the highest weekly number of cases since NHS test and trace launched in May. It represents an 8% rise in new positive infections on the previous week, according to Public Health England data. The test-and-trace system also reported having one of its worst weeks in terms of its performance in tracing the close contacts of those infected with Covid-19.
5th Nov 2020 - The Guardian


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Face coverings: what should you look for in a homemade mask?

With face coverings now mandatory in enclosed spaces in the UK, many of us are having to get used to a whole new dress code. And choices are springing up everywhere - fancy a mask with your favourite photo on the front? How about matching your mask to your outfit? But when it comes to protecting others and ourselves, what should we look for in a home-made mask?
28th Oct 2020 - Patient

Coronavirus: Older children and teachers in England must wear face masks at school

All pupils and teachers at secondary schools in England must wear face masks in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, it has been announced. Under updated government guidance issued on Wednesday, staff and students in Year 7 and above have been told to wear face coverings in school communal spaces - outside of classrooms - where social distancing cannot be maintained. Face coverings had already been required for secondary school pupils within areas under Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions in England, with those local restrictions now to be replaced by the national measures.
4th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Delivery timetable of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has slipped, UK official says

The timetable for delivery of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate has slipped and Britain will receive just 4 million doses of the shot this year, the head of the UK’s vaccine procurement programme said on Wednesday. In May, Britain agreed a deal for 100 million doses of the vaccine, developed by Oxford University and licensed to AstraZeneca, with 30 million doses estimated for delivery by September 2020. Oxford’s trial chief said earlier he was optimistic that late-stage trial results of its efficacy could be presented before the end of the year, and that doses of the shot are already being made.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Lockdown will be a letdown if we do not overhaul the test and trace system – it is time for a local approach

The Test and Trace system has repeatedly failed to deliver and a further lockdown will be a letdown unless that changes. Figures for the week ending 14 October show only 15 per cent of people getting results within 24 hours, down by half from the previous week; only 59.6 per cent close contacts of Covid-positive people identified; and of them, only 57.6 per cent reached. This contrasts with 94.8 per cent contacts reached of cases handled by local authority public health teams.
4th Nov 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

Tory-linked firm involved in testing failure given new £347m Covid contract

The UK government has awarded a new £347m Covid-19 testing contract to Randox, the Tory-linked private healthcare company whose testing kits had to be recalled over the summer because of concerns about contamination. The deal is a six-month extension of an existing contract and was agreed without other companies being invited to bid. It means the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has now approved transfers of nearly half a billion pounds in taxpayer funds to the Northern Ireland-based company since the pandemic began. Disclosed in a filing on a European contracts website, the award has prompted concerns about “cronyism” and calls for an independent inquiry into the £12bn spent so far on attempting to control the pandemic through the test-and-trace system.
4th Nov 2020 - The Guardian


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Covid-19: Liverpool to pilot city-wide coronavirus testing

People in Liverpool will be offered regular Covid-19 tests under the first trial of whole city testing in England. Everyone living or working in the city will be offered tests, whether or not they have symptoms, with follow-up tests every two weeks or so. Some will get new tests giving results within an hour which, if successful, could be rolled out to "millions" by Christmas, the government says. Liverpool has one of the highest rates of coronavirus deaths in England. The latest figures show the city recorded 352 cases per 100,000 in the week up to 30 October. The average area in England had 153. On Monday, the UK recorded 18,950 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 136 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
3rd Nov 2020 - BBC News

U.S. to Use Covid Testing, Isolation Over Lockdowns: Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Senior Scholar Dr. Amesh Adalja discusses how the 2020 election could impact the U.S. approach to the coronavirus and the importance of having the Centers for Disease lead the public health response to Covid-19. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance." The Bloomberg School of Public Health is supported by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News
3rd Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

Contact Tracers Eye Cluster-Busting to Tackle Covid’s New Surge

As a resurgent coronavirus sweeps across Europe and the U.S., some health experts are calling for a “cluster-busting” approach to contact tracing like the one Japan and other countries in Asia have used with success. Rather than simply tracking down the contacts of an infected person and isolating them, proponents advocate finding out where the individual caught Covid-19 in the first place. That extra step, known as backward tracing, exploits a weak spot of the virus — the tendency for infections to occur in clusters, often at super-spreading events. KJ Seung, a doctor who helps oversee contact-tracing for Massachusetts, said he adapted his approach this summer after watching a seminar with Japanese scientists. Since his team started backward tracing, they’ve uncovered clusters at weddings, funerals, bars and other places where people congregated, generating fresh insights into the spread of the disease.
3rd Nov 2020 - BloombergQuint

Could we push coronavirus cases in Australia back down to zero — and stay there?

It's taken almost five months, millions of people going into lockdown, and a significant amount of sacrifice. But on Sunday, for the first time since June, Australia achieved a day with no locally acquired cases of COVID-19. It's an impressive and — as Victorians will tell you — hard-won achievement. But it was also short-lived: Yesterday New South Wales recorded one new COVID-19 case, and multiple alerts were issued for Western Sydney. Still, with new case numbers at their lowest in months, is it possible for Australia to get back down to zero — and stay there? And even put coronavirus elimination within our sights?
3rd Nov 2020 - ABC News

Covid-19: The country's response to community cases hasn't relaxed, the system is just 'more sophisticated'

The official response to new Covid-19 community cases might appear more relaxed than previous outbreaks. But the lack of intensity is simply a reflection of the strides made to improve the public health system, one expert says. Two new community cases – both workers stationed at the Sudima Hotel isolation facility in Christchurch – have not prompted localised lockdowns, as happened in Auckland after the August cluster emerged. “This is another example of the system working well to protect our border,” Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said at Tuesday’s Covid-19 update.
3rd Nov 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Lockdown will be a letdown if we do not overhaul the test and trace system – it is time for a local approach

The Test and Trace system has repeatedly failed to deliver and a further lockdown will be a letdown unless that changes. Figures for the week ending 14 October show only 15 per cent of people getting results within 24 hours, down by half from the previous week; only 59.6 per cent close contacts of Covid-positive people identified; and of them, only 57.6 per cent reached. This contrasts with 94.8 per cent contacts reached of cases handled by local authority public health teams.
3rd Nov 2020 - The Independent


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Which? face mask tests reveal huge differences in filtration

Our first independent lab test of reusable face coverings has revealed that some cloth masks are highly effective at blocking particles, but that basic single-layer masks may not be up to the job. We tested 15 reusable fabric face coverings of different designs – including pleated, moulded, stretchy and multi-layer options – to find out how well they filter bacterial particles. We also assessed how breathable and comfortable they were to wear, and if they survive multiple washes and wears without degrading.
30th Oct 2020 - Which?

Liverpool to pioneer UK's first attempt at mass Covid testing

Up to half a million people in Liverpool are set to be tested for Covid-19 under the UK government’s first attempt to embark on city-wide mass testing and track down every case of the virus. The Guardian also understands that the self-isolation period for those who test positive for coronavirus, and their contacts, could be cut from the current 14-day period to seven days as early as this week. It comes after ministers, who announced a new England-wide lockdown from Thursday amid soaring cases, face pressure to improve the beleaguered £12bn test-and-test trace system to control outbreaks and limit the lockdown to four weeks. Under the Liverpool mass testing programme, which begins on Friday and will cover everyone living and working in the city, a variety of test types and the logistical help of the army will be deployed in a pilot to see whether mass population screening is feasible across other regions of England, as proposed in Operation Moonshot.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

NHS Covid-19 App error left thousands unaware they need to isolate

A reported error with the NHS Covid-19 App has left potentially thousands of people unaware they may have been exposed to coronavirus. The contact-tracing app was set at the wrong sensitivity level, meaning many users were not sent self-isolation alerts after they came into contact with infected people. The error meant users whose “risk score” should have triggered an alert were not notified, The Sunday Times first reported. The app, launched a month ago on 24 September, has been downloaded more than 19 million times. It was updated last week to improve accuracy and notifications which was “expected to increase the number of people asked to self-isolate by the app”. Since its launch “shockingly low” numbers of people had been sent warnings about potential exposure to the virus, a government official told The Sunday Times.
2nd Nov 2020 - Digital Health

Superdrug: COVID-19 antibody test kit relaunched as MHRA compliant

Superdrug has re-launched its at-home COVID-19 antibody testing service – which was withdrawn earlier this year – saying it is “confident” it complies with MHRA guidance. Patients can order the home sampling test kit via the Superdrug online doctor service at a cost of £69, the multiple said last week. The kit – which includes instructions on how to take a finger-prick blood sample at home – is posted to patients, with the capillary blood sample then sent to Superdrug’s United Kingdom Accreditation Service-accredited partner laboratory for analysis.
2nd Nov 2020 - Chemist+Druggist


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Household spread of Covid-19 is common and quick, a new CDC study finds

The spread of Covid-19 among members in a household after one person is infected is "common" and occurs quickly after illness onset, according to a new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The person exposed or suspected of having Covid-19 should be isolated before getting tested and before test results come back to protect others in the home, said the study, published Friday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
2nd Nov 2020 - CNN

Half of Slovakia's population tested for coronavirus in one day

Nearly half of Slovakia’s entire population took Covid-19 swabs on Saturday, the first day of a two-day nationwide testing drive the government hopes will help reverse a surge in infections without a hard lockdown. The scheme, a first for a country of Slovakia’s size, is being watched by other nations looking for ways to slow the virus spread and avoid overwhelming their health systems. The defence minister, Jaroslav Naď said on Sunday 2.58 million Slovaks had taken a test on Saturday, and 25,850 or 1% tested positive and had to go into quarantine. The EU country has a population 5.5 million and aims to test as many people as possible, except for children under 10.
1st Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Sewage testing shows a country flush with coronavirus cases

When Rosa Inchausti and her colleagues started testing wastewater in Tempe, Arizona, it was 2018 and they were not looking for coronavirus. They were tracking the opioid epidemic. But because they were set up to sample the city sector by sector, they were able to switch gears and begin sampling sewage for evidence of coronavirus. "We were ready for this," Inchausti told CNN. Now the city is regularly sampling sewers to keep an eye on the pandemic. And things are not looking good in parts of Tempe.
31st Oct 2020 - CNN

Organised 'overkill': China shows off rapid lockdown system after latest outbreak

China’s strict formula of immediate lockdowns and mass testing even at the first signs of infection has been vital to its success in controlling the disease, allowing its economy to quickly recover from the crisis, officials say. The highly orchestrated strategy - described as “overkill” even by its own proponents - is unique among major economies at a time when Europe and the United States are facing a massive surge of new cases and often chaotic policies. At the time the girl was diagnosed, the Kashgar region of Xinjiang had reported no new cases for almost 70 days. “China has taken the most comprehensive, strictest and most thorough control and prevention measures since the COVID-19 pandemic started,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday. “The facts show China’s measures are effective.”
30th Oct 2020 - Reuters

The face mask test: which are the best at limiting the spread of Covid?

Some fabric face coverings on sale in supermarkets and high-street pharmacies could be giving people a false sense of security by letting the vast majority of large particles pass through them, an investigation by the consumer magazine Which? has revealed. Three of the masks the magazine’s researchers tested failed to capture 93% of bacterial particles, meaning that these particles could be inhaled or exhaled by the mask wearer. However, it was found that the best-performing face coverings were as good as surgical masks at blocking bacterial particles, preventing more than 99% of them from penetrating the fabric.
30th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

It may be time to reset expectations on when we'll get a Covid-19 vaccine

The ambitious drive to produce Covid-19 vaccine at warp speed seems to be running up against reality. We all probably need to reset our expectations about how quickly we’re going to be able to be vaccinated. Pauses in clinical trials to investigate potential safety issues, a slower-than-expected rate of infections among participants in at least one of the trials, and signals that an expert panel advising the Food and Drug Administration may not be comfortable recommending use of vaccines on very limited safety and efficacy data appear to be adding up to a slippage in the estimates of when vaccine will be ready to be deployed. Asked Wednesday about when he expects the FDA will greenlight use of the first vaccines, Anthony Fauci moved the administration’s stated goalpost.
31st Oct 2020 - STAT News

Trump rallies may have led 700 coronavirus deaths and 30,000 new infections, report claims

A Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research report released Friday says Donald Trump's rallies may have led to 700 COVID-19 deaths. A study of 18 of Trump's massive rallies held between June 20 to September 22 found the events increased subsequent cases of COVID-19. Researchers say the rallies may have led to 30,000 new virus infections. 'The communities in which Trump rallies took place paid a high price in terms of disease and death,' the study said. However, the paper has not yet undergone peer review and has not been vetted by experts in public health or epidemiology
1st Nov 2020 - Daily Mail


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The biggest unknowns in a post-pandemic work world

It’s been nearly a year since the novel coronavirus began spreading around the world. While we’ve learned a lot about Covid-19 since January – and how to live and work in lockdown – there’s still much we don’t know about how the pandemic will change our societies. That’s why we’ve rolled out Unknown Questions, our series grappling with these seismic changes by asking leaders and experts across the globe for their input. But today, we’ve turned to you, our readers, for your views on the biggest unknowns about the post-pandemic future.
30th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Merkel heckled by German MPs as she defends second 'soft' Covid lockdown

Angela Merkel said Germans had the chance to show Covid-19 “you have chosen the wrong host” as she defended her government’s second “soft” lockdown, to shouts and heckles in parliament. Citing an interview with the German science writer Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, which she said reflected her own attitude towards the pandemic, the chancellor said: “If the virus could think, it would think … ‘I’ve got the perfect host here. These people live all over the planet. They are globally networked and are social creatures, they can’t live without social contacts. They have a hedonistic inclination, they like to party, it couldn’t be any better.’”
29th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Instant Salvation?: The Challenges We Face Once a Coronavirus Vaccine Is Found

Several coronavirus vaccine candidates could soon be approved and German Health Minister Jens Spahn has begun making plans to inoculate millions of people. But the challenges remain immense and the virus will be with us for quite some time to come.
29th Oct 2020 - DER SPIEGEL International Edition

Merck CEO says Covid vaccine won't be a 'silver bullet,' predicts mask use for the 'foreseeable future'

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier told CNBC on Thursday that drugs to treat or prevent Covid-19 aren’t a “silver bullet” solution to the pandemic. People will need to wear masks and practice social distancing measures well into 2021, he predicted. Frazier said “he’s very optimistic that in the near future” there will be positive results coming from late-stage clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics.
29th Oct 2020 - CNBC

Kashgar in lockdown after completion of 4.7 million Covid-19 tests

Neighbourhoods cordoned off, shops closed after 100 infections confirmed in village on outskirts of city. Local woman says situation not as bad as in July, as people have learned to cope the restrictions
29th Oct 2020 - South China Morning Post


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England's contact-tracing system needs better data handling to beat COVID-19

An anxious Jane receives a text message from the NHS confirming she has tested positive for COVID-19. She had called in sick to work that morning, after she first began to experience a dry cough and mild fever. But she’d spent the previous week running around town for work and various errands. Jane quickly picks up a piece of paper and starts retracing her steps as far as back as she can remember. She writes 11 names on the blank corner of an old electricity bill. Seven more quickly followed on a couple of post-it notes. She had phone numbers for ten.
28th Oct 2020 - The Conversation UK

Northeast Drives Record U.S. Testing to Monitor Covid-19 Surge

The Northeast is running America’s biggest Covid-19 surveillance operation as a coronavirus resurgence sweeps the country, sending U.S. testing overall to a record. The seven-day average of U.S. tests rose to 1.2 million Tuesday, part of an upswing that started about a month ago and has continued unabated, according to Covid Tracking Project data. The Northeast states account for 26% of average daily tests, even though they are reporting just 10% of the country’s positives and have 17% of the country’s population. That makes it the top testing region per capita.
28th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg on MSN.com


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COVID-19 risk on planes 'very low' with proper measures, Harvard review says

The risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard a plane is "reduced to very low levels," Harvard researchers concluded. The onboard ventilation systems coupled with measures such as masks, frequent cabin cleaning, and distancing during boarding and deplaning help keep the virus from spreading. "This layered approach reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard aircraft below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out," the report stated. The Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI), comprised of faculty and scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published its Phase One report Tuesday, analyzing "gate-to-gate travel" onboard planes. It has not been peer-reviewed.
27th Oct 2020 - ABC

Eight in 10 Covid-19 hospital patients are vitamin D deficient, study

Further proof that vitamin D could protect people from coronavirus emerged today after a study found deficiencies in the sunshine nutrient are four times as common among hospitalised patients. A mountain of research from around the world has painted a clear picture — infected patients who do not have enough vitamin D are more likely to end up in hospital.
27th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail


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China’s Kashgar had a covid-19 outbreak. Now all 4.5 million residents are being tested.

Just two days after announcing the discovery of a single asymptomatic case of the novel coronavirus, authorities in China's Kashgar area said they have tested 4.5 million residents, nearly the entire population. By Monday evening, 164 asymptomatic cases had been found in the area. The swift response by health authorities in Kashgar, a trade hub of 4.7 million people in China's far-western Xinjiang region, reflects the heavy pressures on local officials to quash the outbreak, the country's largest since the summer. Central government officials flew there during the weekend to monitor the testing.
26th Oct 2020 - Washington Post

Coronavirus: Test and trace workers report new problems with troubled service

Frontline workers at England’s beleaguered test and trace service have now complained about technical problems over the weekend potentially causing delays to contact tracing thousands of patients who have tested positive for the virus. As the test and trace service battles a surge in daily positive test results, workers reported a system failure on Sunday which led to a problem with cases being put through for clinical assessment and contact tracing. The problem started at around 10am on Sunday and was still being experienced by some staff on Monday. The Independent spoke to contact tracers and also saw messages between workers on Sunday and Monday confirming the lack of cases coming on to the system which is provided by company Sitel.
26th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Can Pre-Flight COVID-19 Testing Get Travelers Back On Planes?

In hopes of jumpstarting a business decimated by the pandemic, airlines and airports are offering pre-flight, on the spot testing for COVID-19, with some test results back in 15 minutes.
26th Oct 2020 - NPR


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Slovaks begin mass testing in virus hotspots as cases surge

Thousands of Slovaks lined up to be tested for the coronavirus in the country’s worst-affected areas on Friday, taking part in a pilot programme that will eventually go nationwide. The government hopes the antigen tests, along with a partial lockdown, can help control a sharp rise in infections. It also offered an incentive to take part, saying those who test negative will be subject to less stringent rules, meaning they can leave home to go to work, take country walks or visit post offices and banks. Those who do not take a test will face a stricter lockdown regime including a ban on commuting to work.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Japan researchers show masks block coronavirus, but not perfectly

Japanese researchers have shown that masks can offer protection from airborne coronavirus particles, but even professional-grade coverings can’t eliminate contagion risk entirely. Scientists at the University of Tokyo built a secure chamber with mannequin heads facing each other. One head, fitted with a nebulizer, simulated coughing and expelled actual coronavirus particles. The other mimicked natural breathing, with a collection chamber for viruses coming through the airway. A cotton mask on the receiver head reduced its viral uptake by up to 40% compared with no mask. An N95 mask, used by medical professionals, blocked up to 90%. However, even when the N95 was fitted to the face with tape, some virus particles still managed to get in. When a mask was attached to the coughing head, cotton and surgical masks blocked more than 50% of the virus transmission.
22nd Oct 2020 - The Japan Times


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The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19

Epidemiologists have repeatedly smacked down such ideas. “Surrendering to the virus” is not a defensible plan, says Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Such an approach would lead to a catastrophic loss of human lives without necessarily speeding up society’s return to normal, he says. “We have never successfully been able to do it before, and it will lead to unacceptable and unnecessary untold human death and suffering.” Despite widespread critique, the idea keeps popping up among politicians and policymakers in numerous countries, including Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. US President Donald Trump spoke positively about it in September, using the malapropism “herd mentality”. And even a few scientists have pushed the agenda. In early October, a libertarian think tank and a small group of scientists released a document called the Great Barrington Declaration. In it, they call for a return to normal life for people at lower risk of severe COVID-19, to allow SARS-CoV-2 to spread to a sufficient level to give herd immunity. People at high risk, such as elderly people, it says, could be protected through measures that are largely unspecified. The writers of the declaration received an audience in the White House, and sparked a counter memorandum from another group of scientists in The Lancet, which called the herd-immunity approach a “dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence”3.
22nd Oct 2020 - Nature.com

Why countries are resorting to pandemic lockdowns again

The lockdowns are back. On Thursday, Ireland is set to become the first country in Europe to impose a second national lockdown as cases of the novel coronavirus surge once again. “We’re making a preemptive strike against the virus, acting before it’s too late,” Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said as he announced the measures. Ireland is not alone in moving toward drastic action, although the extent of measures varies. The Czech Republic, only months ago considered a rare pandemic success story, announced similar plans on Wednesday. Britain, France, Germany and Spain have set regional restrictions this month, prompting demands for nationwide action.
22nd Oct 2020 - The Washington Post

A Sustainable Alternative to Blanket Lockdowns

As cities around the world—including Auckland, Jakarta, Melbourne and Tel Aviv—have entered seemingly endless cycles of lockdowns and viral resurgences, there is a pressing need to reassess this lockdown strategy given the economic, social and psychological damage it wreaks. Blanket lockdowns may be effective, but they are blunt and brutal tools. As this pandemic wears on, possibly for months or even years to come, we need a sustainable alternative that involves more targeted measures that are evidence-based and data-driven.
22nd Oct 2020 - Scientific American

UK PM Johnson says COVID trace scheme needs improvement after new low

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday England’s test and trace scheme needed improvement after a record low proportion of contacts of positive COVID-19 cases were reached in the latest weekly figures. Just 59.6% of contacts of positive COVID cases were reached between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14, statistics for England’s Test and Trace scheme showed - compared with the 80% target - with turnaround times for people receiving their results also getting slower. “I share people’s frustrations and I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we do need to improve it,” Johnson said at a news conference.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Huawei phones to get their own version of NHS Covid-19 app

The NHS Covid-19 app has been submitted to Huawei's app store. The move will initially mean that users of Huawei's older handsets will be able to download it from the firm's App Gallery as an alternative to the Google Play store. But it potentially paves the way for the contact-tracing software to come to the Chinese firm's newer handsets too. Huawei indicated that this might happen as soon as November. But others have stressed there are hurdles to overcome. The app - which is designed for use in England and Wales - has already been downloaded more than 18 million times from Apple and Google's own stores. All of Huawei's existing phones are powered by Android.
22nd Oct 2020 - BBC News


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Friendly skies: App would help travellers comply with COVID tests

A public-interest foundation is testing a smartphone app that could make it easier for international airline passengers to securely show they have complied with COVID-19 testing requirements. It is an attempt to help get people back to flying after the pandemic sent global air travel down by 92 percent. The Switzerland-based Commons Project Foundation was conducting a test Wednesday of its CommonPass digital health pass on United Airlines Flight 15 from London’s Heathrow to Newark Liberty International Airport, using volunteers carrying the app on their smartphones. Officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Customs and Border Protection were observing the test.
21st Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

CDC updates its guidelines for close Covid-19 contact after prison guard gets infected

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its definition of a close contact with a Covid-19 patient to include multiple, brief exposures, after a Vermont prison worker appears to have been infected that way, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday. The new definition includes exposures adding up to a total of 15 minutes spent six feet or closer to an infected person. Previously, the CDC defined a close contact as 15 minutes of continuous exposure to an infected individual. The agency changed the definition after a report from Vermont of a corrections officer who became infected after several brief interactions with coronavirus-positive inmates -- none of them lasting 15 minutes, but adding up over time.
21st Oct 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus survives on skin five times longer than flu, Japan study finds

The coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours, Japanese researchers have found, in a discovery they said showed the need for frequent hand washing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The pathogen that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said the study published this month in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal. “The nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes COVID-19) on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV (influenza A virus), thus accelerating the pandemic,” it said. The research team tested skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death. Both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitizers
18th Oct 2020 - The Japan Times


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Rapid one-hour Covid-19 tests launch for travellers to Italy and Hong Kong from Heathrow Airport

Passengers flying from Heathrow to Italy or Hong Kong will now be able to get a Covid-19 test at the airport and receive their results within an hour. The private test costs £80 and is aimed at helping people travelling to destinations where proof of a negative result is required on arrival. A growing number of countries worldwide are adding the UK to their list of high-risk coronavirus countries, meaning travellers face more restrictions.
20th Oct 2020 - ITV

Italian government enlists top influencers to promote COVID masks

Top Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni and her rapper husband Fedez have urged their fans to wear face masks, heeding a call from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to raise awareness about battling COVID-19. Ferragni, 33, and Fedez, 31, are especially popular amongst teenagers and interrupted their usual flow of Instagram glamour to stress the importance of masks in curbing infections.
20th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus: 'India must cut pollution to avoid Covid disaster'

India's dreaded pollution season has returned as air quality in the capital Delhi and other northern cities rapidly deteriorated in the last two weeks. This is bad news for India's fight against coronavirus because several studies around the world have linked air pollution to higher Covid-19 case numbers and deaths. A Harvard University study shows that an increase of only one microgram per cubic metre in PM 2.5 - dangerous tiny pollutants in the air - is associated with an 8% increase in the Covid-19 death rate. Another study by scientists at the UK's University of Cambridge also found a link between the severity of Covid-19 infection and long-term exposure to air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and ground-level ozone from car exhaust fumes or burning of fossil fuels.
20th Oct 2020 - BBC News


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Covid-19: First UK airport coronavirus testing begins

The test will cost £80 and a result can take a mere 20 minutes. The aim is to help people travelling to destinations where proof of a negative result is required on arrival. A growing number of countries have classified the UK as being "at risk", meaning travellers from the UK face more restrictions. The authorities in Hong Kong now require people to show they have a negative test result, taken within 72 hours of a flight from London. The rapid saliva swab, which is now available at Heathrow Terminals 2 and 5, is known as a Lamp (Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification) test.
20th Oct 2020 - BBC News

What can we learn from nations that got it right? Victoria Allen analyses UK's Covid testing farce

Why has Test and Trace fallen apart in England while other countries have managed to make the system work? The principle is simple – test people with symptoms, trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate – but the execution has varied dramatically. England has lagged behind countries such as South Korea, which rapidly grasped the importance of testing people and tracking their contacts. And where Germany invested in local contact tracers, the English system relied on poorly performing call centres.
19th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail


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Covid-19: Most vulnerable 'could get vaccine by Christmas'

A Covid vaccine could be given to some of the most vulnerable people "this side of Christmas", according to the chairwoman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce. But limited supplies would mean the government would have to decide who should get it, and when. Kate Bingham also said a vaccine will not be "a silver bullet" that would allow life to get back to normal overnight. And she warned that it was unlikely to protect everyone from infection. Ms Bingham said she was optimistic that a vaccine would be found that would "protect some people from infection and can reduce the severity of symptoms". But she said it was "very unlikely" to be a single jab and that ongoing revaccination would be needed - probably every few years.
18th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Restrictions on private events, no gatherings in public of more than 15 people; masks mandatory in more areas and working from home recommended

At an extraordinary meeting on 18 October, the Federal Council introduced several further national measures to combat the rapid rise in coronavirus infections. From Monday, 19 October spontaneous gatherings of more than 15 persons are not permitted in public. A mask must be worn in publicly accessible indoor areas, including in all railway stations and airports, and at bus and tram stops. Moreover, there are now new rules for private events of more than 15 persons, and in restaurants, bars and clubs food and drink may only be consumed sitting down. Following consultations with the cantons, the Federal Council has adapted the Special Situation COVID-19 Ordinance accordingly. This now also includes a recommendation to work from home.
18th Oct 2020 - Swiss Government

Coronavirus test results must come in 24 hours, says Sage scientist

A massive expansion of testing will still leave Britain struggling to keep Covid-19 infections under control unless the system can inform people they are positive within 24 hours, one of the government’s most senior scientific advisers has warned. Ministers have insisted that they are on course to hit a target of 500,000 tests a day by the end of the month, with suggestions this weekend that capability of a million tests a day could be reached by Christmas. However, Graham Medley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and chair of its subcommittee on modelling, said that returning test results “ideally within 24 hours” was as critical as capacity in a successful test-and-trace system. He said if necessary, capacity should be curbed in favour of speed
18th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Germany’s ‘bottom-up’ testing keeps Covid-19 at bay

“It is much more expensive to test too little, than to test too much”. That is the mantra Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, has repeated for months as the country mobilised a vast network of private and public laboratories to quadruple its early Covid-19 testing capacity to almost 1.6m tests per week. Such early interventions helped the EU’s most populous state tame the coronavirus pandemic more successfully than most of its neighbours. Germany’s 361,000 infections represent just a fraction of the 4.5m in Europe so far, significantly lower than the 936,000 cases in Spain and the 708,000 cases in the UK, both of which have much smaller populations.
18th Oct 2020 - The Financial Times

Is tracking down every super spreader the REAL key to beating Covid-19? An approach that pinpoints the start of an outbreak may be twice as effective - as evidence shows just ...

As an average, R number masks differences in individuals and how virus behaves Studies suggest about one in five who catch Covid-19 gives it to someone else Scientists say 'super-spreaders' may be behind 80 per cent of all new infections If true, current tactic used by NHS Test and Trace is at best a waste of resources
18th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail


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Coronavirus: How China is testing 9,000,000 people in five days

China is currently in the process of testing an entire city of 9 million people for coronavirus in five days. The country, which appears to have largely brought the virus under control, is mass testing in Qingdao after 12 new cases broke out there linked to a hospital treating patients from abroad. Six had symptoms and six did not. As of today more than 4.2 million tests have been carried out in the northern port city, with no new cases of Covid-19 found among the almost 2 million sets of results received so far. China has adopted an impressive mass testing process which has been seen nowhere else in the world.
14th Oct 2020 - Metro.co.uk

COVID-19 lockdowns averted tens of thousands of premature deaths related to air pollution

Lockdowns initiated to curb the spread of the coronavirus in China and Europe at the beginning of the pandemic improved air quality, averting tens of thousands of deaths in regions where air pollution has a significant impact on mortality, a new study shows. According to research published in The Lancet Planetary Health, scientists at the University of Notre Dame found that particulate matter concentrations in China dropped by an unprecedented 29.7 percent, and by 17.1 percent in parts of Europe, during lockdowns that took place between Feb. 1 and March 31 in China and Feb. 21 to May 17 in Europe. Particulate matter (PM2.5)—tiny airborne particles smaller than 1/10,000 of an inch in diameter—comes from various combustion-related sources including industrial emissions, transportation, wildfires and chemical reactions of pollutants in the atmosphere.
14th Oct 2020 - Phys.org


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More masks, less play: Europe tightens rules as virus surges

Governments across Europe are ratcheting up restrictions to try to beat back a resurgence of the coronavirus that has sent new confirmed infections on the continent to their highest weekly level since the start of the pandemic. The World Health Organization said Tuesday there were more than 700,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Europe last week, a jump of 34% from the previous week. Britain, France, Russia and Spain accounted for more than half of the new infections. The increasing caseload is partly the result of more testing, but the U.N. health agency noted that deaths were also up 16% last week from the week before. Doctors are warning that while many of the new cases are in younger people, who tend to have milder symptoms, the virus could again start spreading widely among older people, resulting in more serious illnesses.
14th Oct 2020 - The Associated Press

A 'circuit breaker' in England will work only if test and trace is urgently reformed

In July, it all looked possible. England’s 12-week lockdown had reduced the number of positive cases. We could have continued to crush the R value, and built the infrastructure capable of snuffing out local outbreaks. But instead the government chose privatised call centres over community contact tracers. Our testing system, divorced from primary care, was too slow to identify cases. Those who did test positive were often uncertain about what should happen next. And in the absence of financial support, many households did not comply with isolation.
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Countries turn to rapid antigen tests to contain second wave of COVID-19

Countries struggling to contain a second wave of COVID-19 are turning to faster, cheaper, but less accurate tests to avoid delays and shortages that have hampered efforts to quickly diagnose and trace those infected.Germany, where infections jumped by 4,122 on Tuesday to a total of 329,453 cases, has gotten nine million so-called antigen tests a month that can give a result in minutes and cost around $ 7.75 each. This would, in theory, cover more than 10% of the population. The United States and Canada also buy millions of tests, as does Italy, whose recent tender for five million tests attracted bids from 35 companies. Switzerland, where new cases of COVID-19 are at record levels, is considering adding the tests to its national screening strategy. The German Robert Koch Institute (RKI) now recommends antigen testing to supplement existing molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which have become the standard for the assessment of active infections, but which have also suffered from shortages because the pandemic has overwhelmed laboratories and exceeded the production capacity of manufacturers.
14th Oct 2020 - France24


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Covid-19: training dogs to sniff out the virus

What does a disease smell like? Humans might not have the answer, but if they could talk, dogs might be able to tell us. Able to sniff out a range of cancers and even malaria, canines’ extraordinary noses are now being put to the test on Covid-19. Nicola Davis hears from Prof Dominique Grandjean about exactly how you train dogs to smell a virus, and how this detection technique could be used in managing the spread of Covid-19
13th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Are we still listening to the science?

Cases of Covid-19 are increasing across England and the number of people in hospital is now higher than before the full lockdown. It is at this critical moment that the gulf between the official scientific advice and the political decisions made by government has been laid bare. Documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) reveal a call to action three weeks ago. Prof Calum Semple, who was at the Sage meeting on 21 September, said the three-tier system had come too late and he believes that a short national lockdown could be needed within weeks. Sage is also damning of the government's supposedly world-beating test-and-trace system.
13th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Italy tells citizens they must wear a mask if a friend visits your home

Italy has introduced stricter lockdown measures which will see people required to wear facemasks when other people visit them in their own homes. The country has seen a large spike in cases in recent weeks which led prime minister Giuseppe Conte to reintroduce several of the social distancing rules which were eased over the summer months. The new legislation will affect gatherings, restaurants, sports and school activities and will take effect within 24 hours, remaining valid for 30 days. Parties in restaurants, clubs or in the open air are banned and the government has strongly recommended that people do not hold parties in their homes or host more than six guests at any time.
13th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

South Korea mandates mask-wearing to fight Covid-19 as face coverings remain controversial in the US

South Korea is mandating the wearing of masks at all crowded facilities, on public transport and at demonstrations, even as the country eases up on coronavirus restrictions as the number of local infections shrinks. Anyone who violates the new face-mask policy, which kicks in next month, faces a fine of 100,000 won, or around $87, and facilities which fail to follow preventative measures could face closure, health authorities said Monday. The East Asian nation is only the latest in the region to introduce a mask mandate, a sign of how vital face coverings have been found to be in controlling infections and preventing future outbreaks. In many cases, such as in Hong Kong, such orders are largely inconsequential, as almost everyone has been wearing a mask for months now, without being told to by the government, something which has been credited for keeping cases low.
13th Oct 2020 - CNN


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Covid-19: China's Qingdao to test nine million in five days

The Chinese city of Qingdao is testing its entire population of nine million people for Covid-19 over a period of five days. The mass testing comes after the discovery of a dozen cases linked to a hospital treating coronavirus patients arriving from abroad. In May, China tested the entire city of Wuhan - home to 11 million people and the epicentre of the global pandemic. The country has largely brought the virus under control. That is in stark contrast to other parts of the world, where there are still high case numbers and lockdown restrictions of varying severity.
12th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Failures at Austrian ski resort ‘helped speed up spread' of Covid-19 in Europe

An independent commission has found that Austrian national and local authorities made “momentous miscalculations” by first hesitating and then rushing to evacuate an Alpine ski resort that has been described as the “ground zero” of the coronavirus first wave in Europe. Ischgl, a town of 1,600 inhabitants in the Tirolean Paznaun valley and one of Europe’s premium skiing destinations, has been in the spotlight since the middle of March, after thousands of tourists, including at least 180 Britons, caught the virus there during the spring holidays and carried it back to their home countries.
12th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 forecasting app for colleges launched

A new app that forecasts the spread of Covid-19 in colleges has been launched. Developed by the University of Exeter in collaboration with colleges, the free online tool is said to analyse individual college data according to various inputs such as class-based bubbles, larger year group bubbles and attendance on different days. It also allows the user to input community infection rates as well as information about how they are running their college to forecast how many people may need to self-isolate and other steps they can take to minimise disruption.
12th Oct 2020 - FE Week

Herd immunity as coronavirus solution ‘simply unethical’: WHO

The head of the World Health Organization warned against the idea that herd immunity might be a realistic strategy to stop the coronavirus pandemic, dismissing such proposals as “simply unethical.” At a media briefing on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said health officials typically aim to achieve herd immunity by vaccination. Tedros noted that to obtain herd immunity from a highly infectious disease such as measles, for example, about 95% of the population must be immunized.
12th Oct 2020 - Global News

Resistance to lockdown rules is not just ‘fatigue’

The use of the term “pandemic fatigue” in the World Health Organization report is misleading (While Sturgeon takes decisive action on Covid, Johnson just blusters, 8 October). The report is concerned with the increase in non-compliance with regulations designed to counter Covid-19. It lists many putative reasons for non-compliance, including reduced trust in authorities, decreases in perceptions of risk, increased complacency and changes in values (eg, an increased emphasis on libertarianism). This matters because different reasons for non-compliance must be countered with different policies: increased libertarianism requires government information to emphasise our interdependence, increased complacency requires incentives to abide by regulations, errors in risk perception require better risk communication. Referring to every one of these very different phenomena as fatigue implies that the same policy is appropriate for dealing with them all.
11th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Novel coronavirus can last 28 days on glass, currency, Australian study finds

The virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on banknotes, glass and stainless steel for up to 28 days, much longer than the flu virus, Australian researchers said on Monday, highlighting the need for frequent cleaning and handwashing. Findings from the study by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, appear to show that in a very controlled environment the virus remained infectious for longer than other studies have found. CSIRO researchers found that at 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), the SARS-CoV-2 virus remained infectious for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as plastic banknotes and the glass found on mobile phone screens. The study was published in Virology Journal.
12th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK


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Better air during China’s mass lockdowns may have reduced hospital visits

Lower levels of harmful PM2.5 particles could have resulted in an estimated 5,000 fewer hospital admissions from late January to February, study finds. Researchers also estimate there were 60,000 fewer respiratory illnesses like asthma attacks in the period
9th Oct 2020 - South China Morning Post

Coronavirus in Africa: Five reasons why Covid-19 has been less deadly than elsewhere

Many African countries have been praised for waging an effective campaign to combat the spread of coronavirus despite their reputation for having fragile state heath systems. The continent, which has a population of more than one billion, has had about 1.5 million cases, according to data compiled by the John Hopkins University. These figures are far lower than those in Europe, Asia or the Americas, with reported cases continuing to decline. Africa has recorded about 37,000 deaths, compared with roughly 580,000 in the Americas, 230,000 in Europe, and 205,000 in Asia.
9th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus can survive for a MONTH on surfaces including banknotes and mobile phone screens

CSIRO, Australia's science agency, found that Covid can survive up to 28 days. Research found that the virus survived better in colder temperatures. Results could improve risk mitigation procedures to prevent the disease spread
11th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Spain brings military discipline to COVID-19 contact tracing

Various European countries have used their armies for logistical support in tackling COVID-19, but hard-hit Spain is now bringing military discipline to a process that health experts say is key in stemming the spread of the pandemic: contact tracing. At five army bases in Madrid, 150 volunteer soldiers spend their days calling people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, mapping recent social interactions, and asking those potentially infected to stay at home. “We try to impress upon them the idea that their help is vital to bringing an end to the chaos we are living through this year as soon as possible,” Lt. Hector Sanchez said at the Goloso military base on the outskirts of Madrid, where he is in charge of 30 tracers.
9th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

How effective ‘traffic-light’ systems have been in managing the coronavirus outbreak in other countries

The coronavirus pandemic has reached a second wave, as infection rates continue to ramp up all over Europe. In England, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is one of the leading figures to criticise the Government’s approach to local lockdowns informed by its “traffic light system” – placing the majority of the north and midlands under a raft of fresh lockdown restrictions. While the system has been met with contempt by some local leaders, it is not just the UK who have employed a traffic light-style guide to provide the public with clear messaging on the social distancing measures in place in different areas. Similar systems have been employed in France, the Canadian province of Quebec, New Zealand and Spain to name a few countries, although with varied effect.
9th Oct 2020 - iNews


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Italy Makes Masks Mandatory Outside, Imposes COVID Test For UK Arrivals

Italy has imposed stricter coronavirus regulations today as cases in the country are on the rise. It is now mandatory to wear masks in outdoor spaces across the whole of Italy, and visitors arriving from countries including the UK will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result. With 3,678 coronavirus cases confirmed in the last 24 hours, Italy’s new cases have passed the 3,000 mark for the first time since April 24. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has brought in tougher measures in a bid to avoid another economy-crippling lockdown for Italy.
8th Oct 2020 - Forbes

Japan's response to first coronavirus wave late but had good results, report says

Japan’s virus countermeasures spanning January to July — during which time the country saw its first major wave of COVID-19 — were “belated but produced good results,” according to a report published Wednesday by the Asia Pacific Initiative, a Tokyo-based global think tank founded in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Insufficient disaster preparedness, disjointed messaging from public officials, a stubborn resistance to raising testing capacity as well as political friction between national and municipal leaders seemed to expose the shortcomings of the “Japan Model.” And yet, using only voluntary countermeasures and “soft lockdowns” that bore no punitive measures, the country did “the best it could with what it had,” the report said.
8th Oct 2020 - The Japan Times

The real lessons from Sweden’s approach to covid-19

The great thing about using a small country to support your argument is that your opponents are unlikely to know what is really going on there. Perhaps that is why Sweden, with 10.3m people, has become a much-cited example in the debate about how to deal with covid-19. Liberty-loving Swedes are supposedly pursuing a mask-free, lockdown-light strategy that will create herd immunity without bankrupting the economy. Sweden’s success, it is said, is a standing rebuke to the left-wing killjoys who love bossing folk around and shutting everything down.
10th Oct 2020 - The Economist

New Zealand’s ‘go hard, go early’ strategy seems to have worked.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing re-election, called the country’s reopening a validation of its “go hard, go early” response.
7th Oct 2020 - New York Times


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Covid-19: Group of UK and US experts argues for “focused protection” instead of lockdowns

Thousands of medical practitioners and public health scientists have signed a declaration arguing for an alternative public health approach to dealing with covid-19. The Great Barrington Declaration,1 published on Monday 5 October, was drawn up by three epidemiologists and public health experts from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford universities, who describe their approach as “focused protection” of the people most at risk. As of Wednesday 7 October almost 6300 medical practitioners and public health scientists from the US, the UK, and other nations had signed the declaration. The authors—Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard, Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, and Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine and economics at Stanford—said that because older people were 1000 times more likely to die of covid-19 than younger people, an “age stratified” approach could allow resources to be focused on older and high risk patients, while allowing younger and healthier people to attend school and keep businesses open.
7th Oct 2020 - The BMJ

Boris Johnson flatly rejects letting Covid-19 sweep through UK while protecting vulnerable

Boris Johnson today flatly rejected the idea of letting Covid-19 sweep through Britain while protecting the vulnerable. Downing Street made clear that such a policy, advocated by a group of academics, scientists and medics, could lead to young people infecting older generations who are at greater risk of being killed by coronavirus. No10 said the idea, being promoted under the banner of the Great Barrington Declaration, was based on an “unproven assumption” that it was possible to stop the virus being passed between generations to more vulnerable people.
7th Oct 2020 - Evening Standard

Coronavirus: Why public transport could be safer than we thought

The risk of coronavirus spreading on public transport has remained substantially low through the pandemic, several international studies have shown. Safety measures imposed on public transport around the world since COVID-19 hit have made them "the safest places on earth", Dr Julian Tang, a professor of respiratory sciences at Leicester University, told Sky News. He said if people took the same precautions in other high-risk areas such as crowded streets and pubs, the number of cases would reduce there.
7th Oct 2020 - Sky News

Italy expected to make mask-wearing compulsory OUTDOORS

Italy is considering making the use of masks outdoors mandatory nationwide to fight the coronavirus. Infections in Italy - the first European country to be hit by the virus - have risen steadily over the past two months. The regions of Lazio, around Rome, and Campania, around Naples, have already made mask wearing mandatory outside. And authorities are 'working on a proposal' to make it a compulsary rule nation-wide, Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday.
7th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19 community spread of ‘significant concern’ for nursing homes

The rise in coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes is of “significant concern” and correlates with rising infection rates in the community, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has warned. NHI Chief Executive Tadgh Daly said there is growing concern among nursing home operators over the recent rise in new Covid-19 outbreaks following weeks where the number was tapering off. At the end of August, there were 38 active outbreaks in nursing homes but this number fell to 26 by the end of September. By October 3, the number of active outbreaks in nursing homes had increased to 31, as highlighted by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) when it recommended moving to Level 5 restrictions.
7th Oct 2020 - Irish Examiner

Genetic tracing could show how coronavirus spread through White House

There’s a way for the White House to prove exactly how the outbreak traveled among its ranks: through gene-based contact tracing. But it doesn’t appear interested in doing so — even as the circle of President Trump's associates infected with the virus expands by the hour.The Trump administration could, if it chose, search samples taken from dozens of White House staff members and visitors for tiny genetic variants. Because the virus undergoes slight changes as it moves from person to person, it’s possible to map where it has moved by looking for similarities in mutations. White House spokesman Judd Deere said tracing has been done for people who had contact with Trump. But it’s the kind recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which involves merely tracking people who were nearby those known to be infected.
7th Oct 2020 - Washington Post


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How do pandemics end?

We are in the grip of a pandemic like none other in living memory. While people are pinning their hopes on a vaccine to wipe it out, the fact is most of the infections faced by our ancestors are still with us.
4th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: How to tell which countries are coping best with Covid

As the Covid crisis has unfolded, infection rates have fluctuated and restrictions have proliferated. But it has always felt that there was one idea to cling to: that by working out which countries were doing well - and which were not - there was something to be learned. After all, historians will surely puzzle over how the countries of Western Europe, with broadly similar economies, produced such drastically different outcomes. So far, at least. We use international comparisons all the time, of course - they're a way of measuring how our own governments are doing. But even comparing the simplest data can be complex. There can be differences in how and when death is reported, how co-morbidities are reflected on death certificates, and for how long after a positive test a death is considered to be Covid-related. All will influence how a country's performance at any given moment is measured.
6th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus vaccine may be ready by end of 2020, WHO says: ‘There is hope’

A vaccine against Covid-19 may be ready by the end of 2020, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. “There is hope,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a meeting of WHO executives gathered to examine the global response to the pandemic. “We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine.” There are currently nine experimental vaccines in the pipeline of the WHO-led Covax global vaccine facility, which aims to distribute two billion doses by the end of 2021.
6th Oct 2020 - The Independent

'Raging epidemic is not inevitable' — Dr. Scott Gottlieb believes China case count and rips U.S. response

Dr. Scott Gottlieb expressed disappointment with the state of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic. “The entire Pacific Rim has less than 1,000 infections a day. Having a raging epidemic is not inevitable,” the former FDA chief told CNBC. Gottlieb doesn’t believe China is lying about its much fewer case counts. “The entire Pacific Rim isn’t in on the conspiracy.”
6th Oct 2020 - CNBC

Coronavirus can survive for up to NINE HOURS on human skin, study finds

Researchers mixed samples of the coronavirus and influenza A virus with human skin samples obtained from autopsies 24 hours prior. The flu virus survived for less than two hours on skin while the coronavirus lived for up to nine hours. Both viruses were completely inactivated within 15 seconds by hand sanitizer containing 80% alcohol. The team says the findings show how the coronavirus has a higher risk of contact transmission than the flu and the importance of hand-washing
5th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus cases in Arizona declined by 75% during the summer after mask mandate, CDC report finds

In Arizona, coronavirus cases remained stable from early March to mid-May while stay-at-home orders were in effect and businesses were closed. After the stay-at-home order was lifted, cases rose by 151% from around 800 per day to more than 2,000 daily. On June 17, Gov Doug Ducey updated guidelines and allowed counties to implement mask policies. Cases briefly increased before declining by 75% from 3,506 cases per day on July 13 to 867 cases daily on August 7
6th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Trump could face a relapse, Dr. Fauci warns, as president opts to downplay nation's coronavirus threat despite massive death toll

President Donald Trump rolled out of Walter Reed hospital confidently urging the nation not to fear the coronavirus despite experts warning the U.S. death toll, at more than 210,000, could almost double by year's end. Experts also warn that the commander-in-chief himself may not have seen the worst of the virus just yet. "I am very worried that people will take this to mean that 'If he can beat COVID I can beat COVID,'" said Narasimhan, senior vice president for critical care services at Northwell Health. "I don’t think that we can take any real lessons (from Trump's illness) except that he did get sick. Pretending this is not real disease will not help."
6th Oct 2020 - USA Today

Trump Covid post deleted by Facebook and hidden by Twitter

Facebook has deleted a post in which President Trump had claimed Covid-19 was "less lethal" than the flu. Mr Trump is at the White House after three days of hospital treatment having tested positive for the virus. He wrote the US had "learned to live with" flu season, "just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!" Twitter hid the same message behind a warning about "spreading misleading and potentially harmful information". Users have to click past the alert to read the tweet. "We remove incorrect information about the severity of Covid-19, and have now removed this post," said Andy Stone, policy communications manager at Facebook.
6th Oct 2020 - BBC News


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'Major questions unanswered' about effectiveness of NHS Covid-19 App

There are “major questions unanswered” about the effectiveness of the NHS Covid-19 App, a charity has said. The app was officially launched in England and Wales on 24 September, after months of setbacks and multiple trials. But the Health Foundation has raised concerns about the lack of published evidence from the app’s pilots, which it says could put public trust at risk.
5th Oct 2020 - Digital Health

India's new paper Covid-19 test could be a ‘game changer’

A team of scientists in India has developed an inexpensive paper-based test for coronavirus that could give fast results similar to a pregnancy test. The test, named after a famous Indian fictional detective, is based on a gene-editing technology called Crispr. Scientists estimate that the kit - called Feluda - would return results in under an hour and cost 500 rupees (about $6.75; £5.25). Feluda will be made by a leading Indian conglomerate, Tata, and could be the world's first paper-based Covid-19 test available in the market.
5th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Did early focus on hand washing and not masks aid spread of Covid-19?

From the moment coronavirus reached UK shores, public health advice stressed the importance of washing hands and deep-cleaning surfaces to reduce the risk of becoming infected. The advice was informed by mountains of research into the transmission of other respiratory viruses: it was the best scientists could do with such a new pathogen. But as the pandemic spread and data rolled in, some scientists began to question whether the focus on hand hygiene was as crucial as it seemed. Contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches – “fomites”, to use the scientific terminology – may not be such a big deal, they claimed.
5th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

French minister: colleagues who didn’t download Covid app being ‘very French’

France’s technology minister has blamed the poor take-up of the country’s Covid-19 contact alert app on “timing and culture” and says colleagues in government who failed to download it were being “very French”. Cédric O, the minister for digital transition, said that using the app, StopCovid, was essential if the French wanted to avoid further restrictions. Paris and several other cities have been put on red “maximum alert” after a rise in the spread of the virus in recent days.
5th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Australia's Victoria state to boost testing on path to easing restrictions

Australia’s coronavirus hotspot of Victoria will look into ways to increase testing for the disease to control its spread in anticipation of easing of the state’s stringent lockdown restrictions, officials said on Monday. New daily coronavirus infections in Victoria, Australia’s second most-populous state, fell to nine cases on Monday, down from 12 in the previous days. No deaths were reported.
5th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

In full: GP letter warns Hancock against new Covid lockdown

In England, a group of GPs has written to Matt Hancock, warning him against a new lockdown: "As a group of expert medical generalists, we urgently wish you to consider non-Covid harms and deaths with equal standing as the reported deaths from Covid. Restrictions and lockdown have recognised value in pandemic control and we fully supported the first lockdown when little was known about the virus. The position now is transformationally different: after the short, initial lockdown phase, the harms to long term health and wellbeing begin to outweigh the benefits. Now is a critical pivotal point: we must recognise our duty to do no harm. We are concerned due to mounting data and real-world experience, that the one-track response threatens more lives and livelihoods than Covid-lives saved."
5th Oct 2020 - Pulse


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Study reveals the most likely indicator of a Covid-19 infection

Four out of five people with sudden loss of smell or taste tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, new research has suggested. The findings suggest an acute loss of smell or taste is a highly reliable virus indicator, scientists say. They add that loss of smell or taste should now be considered globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing and contact tracing. Researchers at UCL and UCLH (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) assessed health data from primary care centres in London.
2nd Oct 2020 - Metro

Numbers show lockdowns are a 'no brainer'. Letting people die isn't

COVID-19 has killed 890 people in Australia, 802 of whom were over 70, 669 of whom were in government-supported aged care. Estimates vary on how many would have died had we not locked down. “It’s easier to estimate the negative effects of lockdown, because we don’t see [the positive effects],” says Flinders University health economist Professor Jonathan Karnon. Australians’ mental health has worsened and the number of children in hospital with anorexia has dramatically increased. But the number of suicides in Victoria has remained steady. How much of the mental health toll can be slated to lockdowns, versus the general anxiety of a once-in-a-generation pandemic? The virus does seem to pose long-term health risks to even the young and healthy, but we won’t truly know what those are for years. The same is true for lockdown's long-term damage to children’s education and the job prospects of university graduates looking for jobs amid a recession.
3rd Oct 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

Kids And Superspreaders Are Driving COVID-19 Cases In India, Huge Study Finds

In the largest study ever of transmission patterns for COVID-19, researchers in India tested more than a half-million contacts of 85,000 cases to examine how and to whom the coronavirus is spreading. The first interesting finding: Children are spreading the virus amongst themselves and also to adults. Second: The greatest risk for infection among the people studied in the two southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is a long bus or train ride.
2nd Oct 2020 - NPR

Covid-19: Test and trace app incompatibility angers cross-border residents

People living near England's border with Scotland say they are angry that Covid-19 test and trace apps for the two nations are incompatible. Users living in one nation and travelling to the other can only use one app at a time. Barrister Brian Payne, who commutes to Newcastle from the Scottish Borders, called it a "significant failing". The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was working on "a technical solution".
2nd Oct 2020 - BBC News

Face masks become mandatory in Rome as coronavirus cases rise

Face masks will have to be worn at all times out of doors in the Italian capital Rome and the surrounding Lazio region, local authorities ruled on Friday in an effort to counter rising coronavirus infections. Italy on Thursday registered more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since the end of April. Lazio accounted for some 265 of those cases and has been increasingly concerned by the growing contagion. A number of other Italian regions, including Campania centred on Naples, have already made mask wearing obligatory outdoors.
2nd Oct 2020 - Reuters India

Trump's White House event in focus over Covid spread

With Donald Trump now in hospital, there are growing questions about how he and his wife were exposed to coronavirus. A crowded Rose Garden event is coming under intense focus - last week's ceremony where Mr Trump formally announced his nomination of the conservative Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. City council member Brooke Pinto told the Washington Post it was "disappointing that the White House has flaunted not wearing masks and gathering large crowds".
4th Oct 2020 - BBC News

UK tourists can visit just six countries without restrictions

With a second lockdown feeling imminent, if you are desperate for an overseas holiday a last-minute break could be your best bet. Yet, with Turkey and Poland being added to the UK’s quarantine list this week, our choices of where we can go (and not quarantine at either end) are quickly diminishing. Just six countries remain which UK visitors can enter without restrictions: Sweden, Italy, Greece, San Marino, Gibraltar and Germany (although the latter has restrictions for passengers from Wales and Northern Ireland).
2nd Oct 2020 - Evening Standard

Coronavirus vaccine head: Less than half of the UK population could get vaccinated

Less than half of the UK population could be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the head of the country's vaccine taskforce has said. Kate Bingham said officials hope to give the vaccine to around 30 million adults - less than half of the country's population of 67 million. The head of the immunisation programme told the Financial Times: "People keep talking about 'time to vaccinate the whole population' but that is misguided. "There is going to be no vaccination of people under 18. "It's an adult-only vaccine for people over 50 focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable."
4th Oct 2020 - Sky News


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Trump Tests Positive for the Coronavirus

The president’s result came after he spent months playing down the severity of the outbreak that has killed more than 207,000 in the United States and hours after insisting that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.
2nd Oct 2020 - New York Times

Smoking and obesity increase risk of severe COVID-19 and sepsis

Researchers have identified genetic evidence to support a causal link between smoking and obesity and an increased risk of severe COVID-19 and sepsis. The study, led by an international team of scientists from the UK, Norway and the USA, found that both smoking and having a higher body mass index (BMI, a measure of obesity) can increase the risk of severe outcomes with COVID-19.
1st Oct 2020 - Imperial College London

Coronavirus: Some users of NHS tracing app incorrectly given COVID-19 exposure alerts

Some users of the new NHS contact-tracing app have received notifications saying they'd been near someone with coronavirus, only to discover the alerts were system checks sent by Google and Apple. People who downloaded the COVID-19 app in England and Wales told Sky News they had received a notification which said: "Someone you were near reported having COVID-19." Yet, when they clicked on the message, they found no information explaining whether they should self-isolate.
1st Oct 2020 - Sky News

Rethinking Covid-19 Test Sensitivity — A Strategy for Containment

It’s time to change how we think about the sensitivity of testing for Covid-19. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the scientific community are currently almost exclusively focused on test sensitivity, a measure of how well an individual assay can detect viral protein or RNA molecules. Critically, this measure neglects the context of how the test is being used. Yet when it comes to the broad screening the United States so desperately needs, context is fundamental. The key question is not how well molecules can be detected in a single sample but how effectively infections can be detected in a population by the repeated use of a given test as part of an overall testing strategy — the sensitivity of the testing regimen.
1st Oct 2020 - nejm.org

Coronavirus: How Italy has fought back from virus disaster

Through the window of the car in front, there's a short, sharp cry from the toddler - eased with a quick lollipop or a colourful picture: a distraction aid once the swab is finished. And then the next in a long line of vehicles pulls up as Rome's "Baby drive-in" continues apace. The test serves children from newborn to the age of six. A result comes within 30 minutes. If it's negative, they can return to day-care or school, even if there's a positive case in their class.
1st Oct 2020 - BBC News

Why People Have Had Enough of Lockdowns

France, the U.K. and Spain face a triple threat: A jump in cases, a population exhausted by lockdown-induced recession, and rising resistance to tougher measures. Curfews and closures of restaurants and bars have seen business owners literally throw their keys to the ground in present-day Marseille. In Madrid, protesters have bristled at a targeted local lockdown they view as discriminatory. It’s not just conspiracy theorists on the streets in London and Berlin who are angry. Those protesting shouldn’t be dismissed as the selfish exceptions to the rule. Beyond the vocal minority, there are signs that the silent majority is also losing faith in increasingly bureaucratic strictures. Policymakers need to restore it.
1st Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

32% of people would not take Covid-19 vaccine - poll

Almost a third of people in Ireland (32%) would not take the first publicly available EU approved Covid-19 vaccine, according to a new national poll commissioned by RTÉ. The survey examined how people across the country have adapted since the start of the coronavirus crisis. It asked people aged 12 and over about their outlook in areas such as mental and physical health, the economy, finances, family and going back to work and school.
1st Oct 2020 - RTE.ie

Coronavirus updates: Cornell study calls Donald Trump biggest source of misinformation; Moderna vaccine won't come before spring 2021

Despite President Donald Trump repeatedly assuring the nation that a coronavirus vaccine would be approved before Election Day, a key vaccine developer said Thursday its product won't be released to the public until March 2021 at the earliest. Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci rebutted some of the president's claims during Tuesday's debate with former vice president Joe Biden, telling ABC News his views on masks were "taken out of context." A new study out of Cornell found that Trump is the "single largest" transmitter of misinformation surrounding COVID-19, touting false "miracle cures" and giving credence to dubious claims about the origins of the virus. "Saturday Night Live," which is set to come back this week, may be in some hot water with the state of New York. The show's producers announced that it would welcome a live audience for the recording despite regulations prohibiting most live audiences. A spokesman for the state's health department said "that restriction has not changed."
1st Oct 2020 - USA TODAY

In crowded Gaza, public embraces mask-wearing to fight COVID-19

The coronavirus may have been slow to reach the sealed-off Gaza Strip, but Palestinians in the densely populated enclave have been quick to embrace mask-wearing to try to contain its spread. Five weeks into an outbreak of COVID-19 among the general population in the territory, restaurants, many shops, schools, mosques and other public facilities remain closed, and a night-time curfew is in effect. It is rare to see anyone without a mask outdoors, with the coronavirus death toll at 20 and nearly 3,000 cases reported since infections spread beyond border quarantine facilities on Aug. 24. Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions along the frontier with Gaza, where two million people live under the rule of the Islamist Hamas group.
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid-19 vaccine alone won't defeat spread of virus, report warns

A successful vaccine for Covid-19 will not conquer the spread of the virus alone, with restrictions on daily life likely to continue for some time, a team of experts have said. Hundreds of teams of researchers around the world are working to produce a vaccine against the coronavirus, with 11 currently in phase three human trials. The UK government has reserved access to six potential vaccines and has raised hopes that a vaccine could be on the cards by spring next year. A report from a multidisciplinary group convened by the Royal Society, called Delve (Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics), says there are serious challenges to producing a vaccine, including hurdles in manufacturing and storage, questions around how well vaccines will work, and problems with public trust.
1st Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Russia is spreading lies about Covid vaccines, says UK military chief

Russia is seeking to destabilise countries around the world by sowing disinformation about coronavirus vaccines that is shared rapidly across social media, the head of the armed forces has warned. Gen Sir Nick Carter, the chief of defence staff, said the propaganda tactic reflected a strategy of “political warfare” aggressively undertaken by Beijing as well as Moscow “designed to undermine cohesion” across the west. The senior general accused “autocratic rivals” of “manipulating the information environment” to exploit the Covid-19 crisis for strategic gain – including “pro-Russian vaccine politics” – in a speech at the Policy Exchange thinktank. Their “disinformation narratives” were designed to permeate anti-vaccination social media groups, Carter added, pointing to an example uncovered earlier this summer by Australian researchers that spread rapidly from Ukraine. In July, a fake press release was posted to websites of the pro-Russian self-declared state in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. It falsely claimed that the US had conducted vaccine trials on Ukrainian volunteers, some of whom had died.
1st Oct 2020 - The Guardian


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Coronavirus: Coordinated global lockdown could cut COVID-19 cases by 90 percent - study

Stopping future waves of COVID-19 might require coordinated lockdowns across the globe, rather than letting each country do its own thing, epidemiologists say. The pandemic started in China, but quickly made its way across the world - first devastating Europe before the epicentre moved to New York and the US, followed by a surge in South America. Presently India is recording the majority of new cases. New Zealand is believed to have eliminated community transmission of the virus earlier this year after implementing one of the world's toughest lockdowns, enjoying a brief return to near-total freedom between June and August. But with the pandemic still raging elsewhere it came back, just a week after Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said a resurgence was "inevitable".
30th Sep 2020 - Newshub

Largest COVID-19 study highlights role of super-spreaders

In the bleak ranking of worst COVID-19 outbreaks, the United States, with 7.2 million infections, is likely to be eclipsed only by India, which has 1 million fewer cases but is catching up fast. Yet parts of India have led the world in one aspect of the pandemic response: contact tracing — the labor-intensive, time-sensitive, painstaking work of identifying people who were exposed to a known infected person. Extensive contact tracing in two southern Indian states offers the strongest evidence yet that a few super-spreading individuals are responsible for a disproportionate share of new coronavirus infections, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Science. It also suggests that children are more efficient transmitters of the virus than widely believed.
1st Oct 2020 - Los Angeles Times

COVID-19: How to make indoor spaces safer

Ventilation is the introduction of fresh air into an indoor space while the stale air is pushed outside. Whether at home or in public buildings, such as schools and offices, ventilation can be improved by simply opening windows and doors whenever possible. Luca Fontana, a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) specialist consultant at the WHO, told Al Jazeera ventilation is “one part of the big package of infection prevention and control measures” along with physical distancing, hand hygiene and face masks.
1st Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Ten million people have downloaded the NHS Covid-19 app

People in England and Wales have responded hugely to calls for them to download the NHS Covid-19 app, with over 10 million people downloading it so far, 6 million of whom did so on its first day - September 24, 2020. The app plays a significant part in the NHS Test and Trace service in England and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme, identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus. By midday on September 27, there had been over 10 million downloads across compatible Google and Apple devices in England and Wales.
1st Oct 2020 - National Health Executive

Largest COVID-19 contact tracing study to date finds children key to spread, evidence of superspreaders

A study of more than a half-million people in India who were exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 suggests that the virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected.
30th Sep 2020 - Princeton University

Police urged to use Covid-19 app on personal phones amid guideline confusion

Police officers have been encouraged to use the coronavirus contact tracing app on their personal smartphones while working if they wish to, amid confusion about guidelines concerning the technology. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) had initially asked officers to hold off downloading the app on both personal and work devices pending a technical assessment. A spokesman for the body denied any suggestion of “security issues” or a policy reversal, saying such checks are standard procedure for any new software used on work-issued smartphones.
30th Sep 2020 - London Evening Standard

Germany looks to tackle coronavirus rise with 3 simple strategies

Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to avoid another full national lockdown. Coronavirus infections are rising in Germany, as elsewhere in Europe. Although, so far it has not seen a surge in cases like France, Spain and the U.K.
30th Sep 2020 - CNBC

Coronavirus infection rate rising but scope for more, Indian survey shows

Coronavirus infection rates among adults in India have risen sharply, a survey showed on Tuesday, although a large percentage of the population has not yet been exposed, suggesting there is scope for cases to rise much further. In the serological survey conducted in August and September, blood samples were tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. If a person tests positive for the antibodies, it means they were infected with the virus at some point. Blood samples collected from more than 29,000 adults between Aug. 17 and Sept. 22 showed that the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies increased to 7.1% compared to 0.73% in a previous survey between May 11 and June 4, the director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Balram Bhargava, told a press briefing.
30th Sep 2020 - Reuters

NIH to assess and expand COVID-19 testing for underserved communities

The National Institutes of Health has awarded nearly $234 million to improve COVID-19 testing for underserved and vulnerable populations. A part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program will support 32 institutions across the United States and will focus on populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic. These groups include African Americans, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Latinos/Latinas, Native Hawaiians, older adults, pregnant women and those who are homeless or incarcerated. “It is critical that all Americans have access to rapid, accurate diagnostics for COVID-19, especially underserved and vulnerable populations who are bearing the brunt of this disease,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The RADx-UP program will help us better understand and alleviate the barriers to testing for those most vulnerable and reduce the burden of this disease.”
30th Sep 2020 - National Institutes of Health

Covid-19: Universities roll out pooled testing of students in bid to keep campuses open

Some UK universities are introducing covid-19 screening programmes using pooled testing to help prevent outbreaks and allow campuses to stay open. The University of Cambridge and the University of Nottingham are both using pooled testing, which involves mixing several samples together and then testing the pooled sample. If the result comes back positive the people in the group then need to be tested individually. This approach increases the number of people who can be tested using the same amount of resources—saving time, supplies, and money. However, some experts have raised concerns over whether the costs, benefits, and harms of such programmes have been evaluated, and they have called for advice from the UK National Screening Committee. In July, Stanford Health Care in the US began using a pooling method for covid-19 (in groups of four to eight), which had previously been used to screen blood donations for the presence of HIV or hepatitis. The group has said that the method is not being used for all samples, as it works best in populations where most samples are expected to be negative. Pooled testing has also been used in countries including Uruguay and Rwanda, to allow screening of teachers and healthcare workers and to overcome infrastructure and financial issues
30th Sep 2020 - The BMJ

How we need to change global supply chains after COVID-19

COVID-19 blindsided us. Doctors, nurses and other frontline medical workers were forced to wear garbage bags for lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Grocery store shelves were left barren around the world while surplus elsewhere led to 3.7 million gallons of milk and 750,000 eggs being dumped and destroyed per day, according to the Dairy Farmers of America. Seemingly overnight, the pandemic plunged nearly every industry into crisis. Goods production stalled. Supply chains were crippled. The virus was fast-spreading and unforeseen; there was only so much even the best logistics experts in the world could do. As a global society, we must learn from this moment. It’s urgent that we do, as many top health experts predict that this virus could likely reemerge in varying waves across different geographies for the foreseeable future. As HP’s Chief Commercial Officer, I recognize that the perfect, fully pandemic-proof supply chain will never exist. Every business, including those in the tech industry, have had to contend with the disruption wrought by this pandemic, but I do believe that we can make our current models better.
30th Sep 2020 - World Economic Forum

The only local lockdown that worked? How Luton cut the number of Covid cases and escaped further restrictions

In July, when lockdown measures were being gradually eased in the rest of the country, Luton was one of a handful of areas to have the relaxation stalled. With cases rising at a concerning rate, the town, along with Blackburn with Darwen, was listed as an “area of intervention” and the planned reopening of leisure facilities was temporarily cancelled. By the end of the month, cases in Luton were controlled enough for the area to be brought back in line with the rest of the country. Blackburn, on the other hand, was put into local lockdown – where it has remained.
30th Sep 2020 - iNews


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EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m

The global death toll from the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year and has swept across the world, reached the one million mark on Monday (28 September) . The United States has the highest death toll with over 200,000 fatalities, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and the UK - while Spain, France and Italy are also among the deadliest countries for Covid-19. However, the chief of emergencies at the World Health Organization, Michael Ryan, said last Friday that the global coronavirus death toll could hit two million - even with an effective vaccine in place. "Are we prepared collectively to do what it takes to avoid that number?" he said, calling on governments to do everything to halt the surge of Covid-19 infections worldwide. "Unless we do it all, the number [two million deaths] is not only imaginable but unfortunately and sadly, very likely," he added.
29th Sep 2020 - EUobserver

WTO should play role in COVID-19 medicine access: candidate

A key contender to head the World Trade Organization told Reuters on Tuesday she thinks the body should play a role in helping poorer countries access COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, and this topic should be part of negotiations if she wins. Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, seen by delegates as a top candidate to lead the WTO, currently chairs the GAVI vaccine alliance board and stressed her credentials among five remaining candidates “at the intersection between public health and trade”. “Trade can contribute to public health - seeing that connection, invoking those (WTO) rules, actively discussing COVID-19 issues and how WTO can help,” the former finance minister and World Bank managing-director said. “For me, that would be a priority.”
29th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

New York City to impose mask fines as COVID-19 cases climb

New York City will impose fines on people who refuse to wear a face-covering as the rate of positive tests for the novel coronavirus climbed above 3 percent for the first time in months, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said. Officials will first offer free masks to those caught not wearing one. If the person refuses, they will face an unspecified fine, de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday.
29th Sep 2020 - Al Jazeera English


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COVID 19: The strained relationship between science and politics

In the scientific world researchers tread a slow and methodical path in the search for truth. But for some politicians, the rush to deliver quick and easy answers to the complex challenges of the COVID-19 crisis is creating new challenges of its own.
28th Sep 2020 - Deutsche Welle

WHO COVID Debrief on kids going back to school

Is it safe to send your children back to school? WHO’s Dr Abdi Mahamud explains. The role of children in transmitting the disease is not yet fully understood and scientists are working to understand more, says WHO’s Dr Abdi Mahamud in this episode of the WHO COVID Debrief. To date, few outbreaks have been reported in children in schools. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 190 countries have closed their schools, affecting some 1.6 billion students as per data released by UNESCO after surveying 94 percent of the world’s students.
28th Sep 2020 - Al Jazeera English

In Brazil's Amazon a COVID-19 resurgence dashes herd immunity hopes

The largest city in Brazil’s Amazon has closed bars and river beaches to contain a fresh surge of coronavirus cases, a trend that may dash theories that Manaus was one of the world’s first places to reach collective, or herd, immunity. When a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, its spread becomes unlikely. University of Sao Paulo researchers suggested that a drastic fall in COVID-19 deaths in Manaus pointed to collective immunity at work, but they also believe that antibodies to the disease after infection may not last more than a few months.
28th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Pubs and restaurants 'responsible for just 3.2% of Covid-19 outbreaks' in week 10pm curfew was announced

Pubs, bars and restaurants were responsible for just 3.2 per cent of confirmed coronavirus outbreaks in the week the Prime Minister introduced a 10pm curfew, new data suggests. Public Health England publishes a weekly update of data on how coronavirus and respiratory infections are spreading around the country. According to the latest figures that were published on Friday, a total of 772 respiratory infections were reported in the week leading up to September 20, and 69 per cent of these were linked to Covid-19 infections.
28th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Plastic face shields 'are not effective in stopping COVID-19 spread'

Plastic face shields now commonly worn by hairdressers, barbers and beauty salon workers are not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, researchers have said. Technology in Japan involving the world’s fastest supercomputer found that nearly 100% airborne tiny droplets escaped through the plastic. The technology used in the research is called Fugaku and it can perform more than 415 quadrillion computations a second. It has also found that non-woven fabric face masks are the most effective at trapping airborne droplets of the virus.
28th Sep 2020 - Diabetes.co.uk

Pandemic disrupting your child’s sleep? These scientists-backed tips help little ones nod off

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all of our lives to some degree as families cope with isolation, job fears and in some tragic cases the death of loved ones. While young children may not fully understand the outbreak, months off school combined with anxious parents will undoubtedly have left many feeling unsettled. If this has affected their sleep, scientists from the University of Florida in Gainesville have put together their expert tips to help little ones nod off.
28th Sep 2020 - Yahoo Lifestyle UK


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People could suffer impact of having Covid for years, professor warns | ITV News

A specialist in infectious diseases has warned that people could suffer from the impact of having coronavirus for years, with many experiencing prolonged symptoms. Professor Sam McConkey, associate professor and head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), said some patients continue to have “significant dysfunction” of the lungs, heart or brain up to three or six months later. Those recovering from Covid-19 have reported feeling faster heart rates than usual, others suffer panic attacks, while some say they cannot walk as far and some have reported having “brain fog” and difficulty concentrating.
27th Sep 2020 - ITV News

One in five will refuse Covid vaccine when it becomes available

A fifth of people in the UK say they are unlikely to get a coronavirus vaccine if one is approved, a study highlighting “concerning” levels of misinformation has found. Three-quarters (78%) of 17,500 adults surveyed by University College London (UCL) researchers said they would be “likely” to get vaccinated, with 49% saying they were “very likely” to do so. But 22% said this was unlikely, and one in 10 said this was “very unlikely”, with factors including worries about unforeseen effects, preferences for natural immunity, concerns about commercial profiteering, and mistrust of vaccine benefits.
26th Sep 2020 - Wales Online

COVID-vaccine results are on the way — and scientists' concerns are growing

Two weeks ago, the UK trial of a leading vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca restarted after a six-day pause to investigate safety concerns. Halted trials of the same vaccine in South Africa and Brazil have also since resumed, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet given the green light for US studies to start again. The trial’s sponsors have so far released few details about what caused the pause, and why the trial was allowed to resume. Some scientists say this lack of transparency could erode public trust in the vaccine.
26th Sep 2020 - Nature.com

Test Results From NHS Or Government Labs Can't Be Linked With Covid-19 App, Official Admits

Tens of thousands of test results delivered each day by NHS or Public Health England (PHE) labs can’t be linked with the official Covid-19 app, officials have admitted. An issue with the long-awaited technology – which arrived on Thursday months later than hoped – means that Pillar 1 test results, which are provided by the NHS and PHE, cannot be connected to the app. On Friday, 210,375 tests were taken – 61,481 of which were handled by PHE and the NHS.
26th Sep 2020 - Huffington Post UK on MSN.com

NHS Covid-19 app refuses to let users enter negative test results and insists they STAY in 14-day quarantine in flaw that has affected 60,000 people in 24 hours

App tells users to self-isolate if they alert it to any coronavirus-like symptoms But if they fail to book a test through the app they then cannot enter the results This means they are unable to turn off a warning advising them to self-isolate The Department of Health said that they had now fixed the problem
26th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: Fewer than 0.1% fined for no masks on trains

Fewer than 0.1% of people stopped by police for not wearing masks on trains received a fine, figures have revealed. British Transport Police (BTP) said it stopped 14,726 people from 15 July to 15 August for failing to comply, resulting in 14 fixed penalty notices. The rules, introduced in June, state anyone travelling on public transport must wear a face covering. BTP said enforcement in the form of fixed penalty notices was only used as a "last resort". It said, from 30 July to 8 September, officers recorded 50,729 "interventions" with passengers not wearing face coverings, with 3,545 - 7% - of those told to leave the train.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC News

England’s coronavirus tracing app positive test result function fixed but problems continue

An issue preventing users of the NHS Covid-19 app in England logging a positive test result has now been resolved. However, people who book a test outside the app still cannot log negative results. Concerns were expressed when it emerged people tested in NHS hospitals or Public Health England (PHE) labs or those taking part in the Office for National Statistics infection survey could not enter their results on the newly-launched app.
26th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Coronavirus: More than 1,000 New Yorkers test positive in a day for first time since June

More than 1,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for Covid-19 in a single day on Friday. It was the first time since 5 June that the state has reported a daily case number that high. Positive cases in the state have been rising steadily over the last few weeks, according to ABC7. The rise may be attributed to the reopening of businesses and schools. The state was seeing an average of approximately 660 people test positive each day. The state reported it had averaged 817 positive tests per day in the seven-day period that ended Friday
26th Sep 2020 - The Independent

Coronavirus: Children behind rising demand for tests in England

Demand for coronavirus tests has almost trebled among young children in England this month - but only 1% were found to have the virus, figures show. In the first two weeks of September, more than 200,000 under-nines were tested, according to government's test-and-trace programme. That is nearly three times as many as in the previous fortnight. A large study review has also confirmed that children are less likely to be infected than adults. But the role that children and adolescents play in transmitting the virus "remains unclear", it said.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Japan's remote workforce packs on a few pounds amid pandemic

Who could have known there are tangible, physical benefits to commuting to an office for work every day? Back in the first weeks of the state of emergency, working from home may have initially seemed like a dream come true. However, recent reports on websites such as My Navi and Suits Women suggest that sitting in front of a computer surrounded by all the comforts of home more than likely didn’t help workers’ waistlines, with women putting on an average of 2.6 kilograms in April and May and men an average of 3.3 kilograms. This might not sound excessive but, as people have continued to work from home during summer, shedding the extra weight seems to be proving a little more difficult.
26th Sep 2020 - The Japan Times

178,000 people given the all-clear in mass test sparked by asymptomatic workers

Two men at Qingdao port test positive for Covid-19 after working night shift unpacking frozen food - Two ships put on temporary blacklist after coronavirus found on goods they were carrying
25th Sep 2020 - South China Morning Post

Coronavirus: London placed on Covid-19 watch-list as cases rise

London has been added to the government's Covid-19 watch-list following a rise in cases in the city, officials have said. All boroughs have been classed as areas of concern, but no additional restrictions have been announced. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the city was at "a worrying tipping point" with hospital admissions increasing. Councils in the city have urged residents to abide by current restrictions. The watch-list, published each week, categorises local councils seeing a higher infection rate as "areas of concern", "areas of enhanced support" or "areas of intervention". Tighter restrictions are usually introduced for areas in the third category.
25th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: NHS tracing app problem that left tens of thousands of tests unlogged has been fixed, government says

A problem that prevented tens of thousands of people from logging the result of their coronavirus tests on the new NHS contact-tracing app has been fixed, according to a Department of Health spokesman. In a statement, they said: "Everyone who receives a positive test result can log their result on the app. "A minority of people, such as hospital patients, who were unable to log their positive result can now request a code when contacted by NHS Test and Trace to input on their app." It came after the app's developers admitted it had not been able to link more than 60,000 coronavirus tests carried out in England on Friday - just under a third of the total - to its systems
25th Sep 2020 - Sky News

NHS Covid-19: App app issue fixed for people who test positive

The government has fixed a problem with its new NHS coronavirus app in England and Wales which meant many positive test results were not being logged. Users were unable to record a positive test result, if they had booked a test elsewhere and not via the app. But the Department of Health said everyone who tests positive can now log it, however they booked the test. However, people who test negative are still unable to share their result if they did not book it via the app.
25th Sep 2020 - BBC News

UK will see 100 coronavirus deaths per day within three or four weeks claims SAGE expert

Professor Graham Medley from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, said the high death toll was "inevitable" if the infection rate rises to 10,000 new infections per day. The 100 deaths per day is based upon a fatality rate from coronavirus remaining at 1 percent. This death rate is disputed as the World Health Organisation suggests fatalities from coronavirus is estimated at 0.5 percent.
25th Sep 2020 - Daily Express

Coronavirus mutation emerges that may outmaneuver mask-wearing and hand-washing

New preliminary research suggests a dominant strain of coronavirus may be more contagious than others. A virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) who reviewed the study said the findings suggest the virus may have become more contagious and could possibly be responding to health measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing. Other experts questioned the study, saying they have yet to identify a mutation that would change how infectious or deadly the virus is.
24th Sep 2020 - The Hill

When Will We See a Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids?

The pandemic has many parents asking two burning questions. First, when can I get a vaccine? And second, when can my kids get it? It may come as a surprise that the answers are not the same. Adults may be able to get a vaccine by next summer. But their kids will have to wait longer. Perhaps a lot longer. Thanks to the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed and other programs, a number of Covid-19 vaccines for adults are already in advanced clinical trials. But no trials have yet begun in the United States to determine whether these vaccines are safe and effective for children.
21st Sep 2020 - The New York Times


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Coronavirus UK: Traffic-light system being considered for lockdowns

Ministers have reportedly approved the plan which would see local authority areas ranked red, orange or green – depending on the severity of the pandemic locally. The system would work in tandem with the new NHS app and users would receive automatic alerts on their phone when further restrictions are coming in. The meaning of each category is still being discussed. But it’s thought if a place is marked green then no further restrictions would be needed, beyond the rules that already apply to the whole country.
24th Sep 2020 - Metro.co.uk

GPs raise concerns about patients paying privately for 'extortionate' Covid-19 tests

GPs have raised concerns about anxious patients paying ‘extortionate’ prices for private coronavirus tests after being unable to access the government Test and Trace system. Online pharmacies and private GPs are among those charging between £140 and £250 to carry out an antigen test for Covid-19. It comes after Pulse reported that GPs were being inundated by patients unable to get a test as as NHS Test and Trace continued to struggle to meet demand. Those paying for tests include parents whose children have been sent home from school or nursery but who cannot get a test through the Government online booking system and need to get back to work.
24th Sep 2020 - Pulse

As 21 states report a rise in new Covid-19 cases, CDC chief says more than 90% of Americans remain susceptible

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that even an effective Covid-19 vaccine won't replace the need for other public health measures, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the vaccine will not be 100% effective and taken by 100% of the population -- which means there still will be room for Covid-19 to spread. Fauci said he's being "practical" when he says, "I think if we can get 75 to 80% of the population vaccinated, I think that would be a really good accomplishment." "It is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures," he said in a Facebook Live conversation with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
24th Sep 2020 - CNN

This Is Why NHS Covid-19 App Privacy Concerns Are Massively Overblown

The long-awaited NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 app has finally arrived and although the technology is not a “silver bullet” in the fight against the pandemic, it is at least a positive step to aid contact tracing efforts. For it to work it will need at least seven million people to download and use it but already it’s clear not everyone is on board.
24th Sep 2020 - Huffington Post UK

Users report issues as Covid-19 app launches in England and Wales

The launch of the NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales has exposed problems with the programme, some of which were known about in advance, and some of which will come as a surprise to both the government and users. Although there were hundreds of thousands of downloads of the app in the first few hours on iPhones from the App Store and Android from the Google Play Store, simply accessing it caused a problem for many. Some Android users reported accidentally downloading the trial version that had been made available in Newham, east London, and the Isle of Wight. That then led to a rash of one-star reviews on the Google Play Store, giving the app an average rating of just 1.5 stars.
24th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

NHS Covid-19 app: One million downloads of contact tracer for England and Wales

NHS Covid-19 instructs users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they were nearby someone who has the virus. It also has a check-in scanner to alert owners if a venue they have visited is found to be an outbreak hotspot.
24th Sep 2020 - BBC News

'Close to 100% accuracy': Helsinki airport uses sniffer dogs to detect Covid

Four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have begun work at Helsinki airport in a state-funded pilot scheme that Finnish researchers hope will provide a cheap, fast and effective alternative method of testing people for the virus. A dog is capable of detecting the presence of the coronavirus within 10 seconds and the entire process takes less than a minute to complete, according to Anna Hielm-Björkman of the University of Helsinki, who is overseeing the trial. “It’s very promising,” said Hielm-Björkman. “If it works, it could prove a good screening method in other places” such as hospitals, care homes and at sporting and cultural events.
24th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Rethink short lockdowns, tracing is key: PM Modi to states

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked the Chief Ministers of seven states worst hit by the Covid-19 crisis to make a critical assessment of the 1-2-day lockdowns that several states have been imposing, and the adverse impact these have on economic activity. The Prime Minister stressed on the need for states to strengthen their tracing- tracking strategy to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus infection. “The lockdown brought benefits. Globally too, it has been appreciated. However, now we have to focus on micro containment zones, which will ensure that the spread is contained… States have to make an assessment on how effective are the lockdowns that are being imposed for 1-2 days. Because of this, economic activity should not face problems. My suggestion to the states is to take up this issue very seriously. We have to increase our focus on effective testing, treating and surveillance, and clear messaging,” the Prime Minister said.
24th Sep 2020 - The Indian Express


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WHO on a coronavirus second wave, lockdowns and how the world responded to the pandemic

Just over six months ago, the World Health Organization designated the coronavirus outbreak a "pandemic." Since then, our lives have changed beyond all recognition. Over half of the world's population has experienced some kind of lockdown, almost 1 million people have died, and countries around the globe are bracing for an unprecedented economic collapse. ABC News recently spoke to WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris to discuss the organization's response to the pandemic, whether countries took the novel coronavirus seriously enough, fears of a second wave and why lockdowns became the preferred means of dealing with the biggest public health emergency in a century.
23rd Sep 2020 - ABC News

Britain finally launches COVID-19 app in England and Wales

The government had said the app would arrive in May, but early trials were dogged by problems, and developers abandoned home-grown technology in favour of Apple and Google’s model in June. The embarrassing U-turn followed warnings from tech experts that it would be less effective and that it should have switched to the Apple-Google software earlier. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the reworked tool was “an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer”.
24th Sep 2020 - Aljazeera.com

Glitches dent German enthusiasm for Covid contact-tracing app

As England and Wales prepare to unveil a coronavirus contact-tracing app, Germany is drawing less than enthusiastic first conclusions about the effectiveness of battling the pandemic with smartphones. A hundred days after its launch, German authorities conceded that IT glitches and poor communication channels with laboratories make the country’s Corona-Warn-App “one more tool of many” rather than a Covid-19 cure-all. The German app, which drew praise from as far as Westminster after it was launched on 16 July, had by the start of this week been downloaded 18.4m times in Germany and 400,000 times abroad – more than similar apps in all other EU member states combined.
23rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

People didn't follow the Covid rules out of fear. They did it for the common good

As the government lurches from U-turns to full-on pile-ups, and a second wave of Covid-19 looms large, it’s worth remembering something. For three months back in the spring, we – UK citizens – did what we needed to do. The government may have dozed at the wheel, but when it finally woke up, we acted collectively by staying at home to save lives. And with some notable exceptions, we stayed the course by locking down for longer and more willingly than some predicted.
23rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Why is Germany doing better than the UK at fighting a resurgence of Covid-19?

Boris Johnson's comments about why "freedom-loving" UK has higher coronavirus cases than Germany and Italy have sparked a heated debate and given us a reason to look at why Germany is coping better than the UK in the fight against a second wave. On Tuesday UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked by opposition Labour MP Ben Bradshaw if "the reason Germany and Italy have far lower Covid rates than us" is because their contact tracing and testing programmes work. Johnson rejected the argument, adding: "Actually there is an important difference between our country and many other countries around the world, that is that our country is a freedom-loving country.
23rd Sep 2020 - The Local Germany

As Covid-19 Fatigue Fuels Infections in Europe, Italy Resists Second Wave

Months after Italy’s lockdown against the coronavirus ended, Enrica Grazioli still sanitizes everything that comes into her Milan apartment, wears face masks diligently and limits interactions between her sons and their grandparents. Ms. Grazioli, a self-proclaimed social butterfly who loves to cook for guests, still hasn’t had friends over for dinner since the virus struck. “Am I overdoing it?” says Ms. Grazioli. “Maybe, but we had a national tragedy of epic proportions and you don’t quickly forget something like that.” Italy, the first nation outside Asia to suffer a major coronavirus outbreak, had one of the world’s worst death tolls this spring. Overflowing hospitals in parts of northern Italy had to choose which patients got the last intensive-care beds. The Italian army drove truckloads of victims out of the city of Bergamo, which couldn’t cope with the dead.
23rd Sep 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus: Madrid in lockdown as doctor warns Britons to follow the new rules or pay the price

A front line doctor in Madrid has urged Britons to stay strong and obey the rules as the country faces a second wave of coronavirus. "We only have to do this for a few more weeks, not forever," Dr Moreno Santiago told Sky News. "Things like wearing a mask we only need to do for a few short weeks and in that time we can control the pandemic, if not we are going to pay for this. It will be very, very, very costly."
23rd Sep 2020 - Sky News

Italy's harsh lessons help keep second wave at bay

When Covid-19 struck Europe, Lombardy’s flooded hospitals and spiralling death toll provided a grim template for Italy’s neighbours. In the past weeks, however, it is offering a more upbeat, alternative path: while Spain, France and the UK are experiencing a second surge in infections after loosening lockdown restrictions, Italy has kept the disease under control. New daily cases are on the rise to 1,535 from the low hundreds in June, when restrictions started easing. But this compares with more than 10,000 new cases in Spain and France. Life feels normal in most of Italy: restaurants and bars are open, people enjoy late-summer trips to the beach and children have returned to school.
23rd Sep 2020 - Financial Times


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Fewer than 40% of Americans plan to get a coronavirus vaccine as soon as one is available

In a new poll, 39% of US adults said they are not likely to get the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, down from 53% surveyed last month. About 43% of Democrats and 41% of Republicans said they were likely to get the jab during the rollout, a drop from 56% and 49%, respectively. Just 9% of surveyors said they were 'very likely' to be immunized with the first available vaccine, a decrease from 17% in August. Thirty percent of respondents said they would wait a few months before being given the shot while nearly one-quarter said they will not get the shot at all
23rd Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Potential risk model could see 4.5m people shielding from COVID-19 this winter

People’s health, weight, age and sex will determine whether they will need to shield from COVID-19 over the winter months, according to reports. The Sunday Telegraph has said that up to 4.5million people will be advised to stay at home as part of the government’s new shielding plan. The risk model is still being considered, although Professor Peter Openshaw, an adviser to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has urged experts to “act fast” because he said a delay of just a “few days” could be dangerous. In an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sunday’s Sky News he said he thought the country was on the “edge of losing control”. He added: “It’s a bit like water seeping through a dam. It starts as a trickle and if you don’t do something about it, it can turn into a real cascade.”
22nd Sep 2020 - Diabetes.co.uk

As Covid Fatigue Fuels Infections in Europe, Italy Resists the Second Wave

Months after Italy’s lockdown against the coronavirus ended, Enrica Grazioli still sanitizes everything that comes into her Milan apartment, wears face masks diligently and limits interactions between her sons and their grandparents. The 16 health areas with an incidence rate above 1,000 cases but that are not under the new restrictions are: Lavapiés, Canillejas, García Noblejas, San Isidro, Rafael Alberti, Orcasitas, Vicálvaro-Artilleros, Campo de la Paloma, Villaamil (all located in the city of Madrid); Doctor Trueta and Miguel Servet (both in Alcorcón); Las Fronteras (Torrejón de Ardoz); Panaderas (Fuenlabrada); Villa del Prado (in the municipality of the same name); Alcalde Bartolomé González (Móstoles); and Sierra de Guadarrama (Collado Villalba).
22nd Sep 2020 - Wall Street Journal

Spain to cut coronavirus quarantine to 10 from 14 days, SER radio says

The Spanish government and regional authorities are set to cut the quarantine imposed on those who have had contacts with people tested positive to coronavirus to 10 days from a previous 14 days, Cadena SER radio station reported on Tuesday. Spain has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in western Europe and regional authorities have ordered a partial lockdown from Monday in some Madrid neighbourhoods and other regions are taking measures to curb contagion.
22nd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

French universities' new rules seek to prevent new COVID-19 clusters

Face masks are obligatory, there are separate entrances and exits on campus and many on-site facilities are restricted or closed. But despite a range of sanitary measures at universities in France, at least a dozen COVID-19 clusters have emerged since some classrooms re-opened earlier this month. September marks the start of a new academic year and the French government says children and students should return to the classrooms again. But in a post-lockdown France, where cases are surging again, lectures look and sound very different.
22nd Sep 2020 - CGTN


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Coronavirus: Medical and science experts outline four ways we can help beat COVID-19

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance have outlined four ways to beat coronavirus as we head into winter. The pair reiterated some key public health messages amid fears the virus could spiral out of control and result in 49,000 cases a day by mid-October. The four ways include limiting the spread, limiting social contact and following self-isolation guidelines.
21st Sep 2020 - Sky News

As more local lockdowns begin, the hard truth is there's no return to 'normal'

As a scientist, I’m often asked what to do and what not to do, and how to cope in this new uncertain world. Here is my advice on how best to enjoy life and get as much normality back while being a responsible citizen. My main advice is to get outside as much as possible when seeing other people. Research has shown that 97% of “super-spreading” events occur indoors, and that outdoor transmission is minimal. If an indoor setting is poorly ventilated, crowded and no one is wearing face coverings, it is best to avoid it. The upshot is that non-essential shops, outdoor hospitality and public transport look relatively safe with the use of face coverings. Now is the time to avoid non-essential travel and to visit nearby parks, and support your local businesses.
21st Sep 2020 - The Guardian

France’s vaccine hesitancy hangs over coronavirus response

As governments are putting their hopes on a vaccine to stop the coronavirus — and restart the economy — one country might face more difficulties than others. France has one of the lowest vaccine confidence rates in the world, according to a Lancet study published earlier this month. French people who are hesitant about vaccines shouldn’t be dismissed as kooky conspiracy theorists who rant about Bill Gates and 5G all day, experts say — at least not all of them. But vaccine skeptics represent a sizable chunk of the French public, big enough to hinder a vaccination campaign when a vaccine against the coronavirus will be on the market.
22nd Sep 2020 - POLITICO


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Who gets a COVID vaccine first? Access plans are taking shape

The NASEM guidance goes a step further by ranking priority groups in order of who should get a vaccine first (see ‘A tiered approach’). After health-care workers, medically vulnerable groups should be among the first to receive a vaccine, according to the NASEM draft plan. These include older people living in crowded settings, and individuals with multiple existing conditions, such as serious heart disease or diabetes, that put them at risk for more-serious COVID-19 infection. The plan prioritizes workers in essential industries, such as public transit, because their jobs place them in contact with many people. Similarly, people who live in certain crowded settings — homeless shelters and prisons, for example — are called out as deserving early access.
19th Sep 2020 - Nature.com

From adenoviruses to RNA: the pros and cons of different COVID vaccine technologies

The World Health Organisation lists about 180 COVID-19 vaccines being developed around the world. Each vaccine aims to use a slightly different approach to prepare your immune system to recognise and fight SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, we can group these technologies into five main types. Some technology is tried and trusted. Some technology has never before been used in a commercial vaccine for humans. As we outline in our recent paper, each technology has its pros and cons.
19th Sep 2020 - The Conversation AU

Obese Britons putting at risk hopes of widespread vaccine protection

Britain’s obesity crisis could prevent a vaccine from ending the pandemic, experts have warned. Scientists are concerned that vaccines being developed to protect against Covid-19 may be less effective in fat people, leaving them more vulnerable to infection, which could, in turn, put others at risk.
19th Sep 2020 - The Times

Coronavirus Scotland: How Sweden avoided lockdown thanks to Anders Tegnell

When the rest of the world blinked as coronavirus took hold, ice-cool Swede Anders Tegnell refused to lock down his nation. As Sweden’s death count spiralled last spring at one of the highest global rates, this once faceless scientist was accused of creating a “pariah state”. Yet when I met Tegnell, 64, in the capital Stockholm he was being lauded as if he was the fifth member of Abba. T-shirts proclaiming — in the style of the Carlsberg adverts — “Tegnell, probably the best state epidemiologist in the world” are best-sellers. For it appears his decision not to lock down may have paid off.
19th Sep 2020 - The Scottish Sun


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All countries need consistent Covid-19 messaging - WHO

The World Health Organization has warned of "alarming rates of transmission" of Covid-19 across Europe and cautioned countries against shortening quarantine periods. The WHO's regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said the number of coronavirus cases seen in September "should serve as a wake-up call for all of us." "Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region," he told an online press conference from the Danish capital Copenhagen. The health body also said it would not change its guidance calling for a 14-day quarantine period for anyone exposed to the novel coronavirus.
17th Sep 2020 - RTE.ie

Wristband Covid-19 tracker for passengers landing in Abu Dhabi

Passengers arriving in Abu Dhabi are now required to wear a tracking wristband during the mandatory 14-day home quarantine due to Covid-19, according Etihad Airways. Authorities at Abu Dhabi International Airport are giving out the medically-approved tag to all passengers arriving from all countries. "On arrival into Abu Dhabi you must self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation must take place at home and you will be required to wear a medically approved wristband for the duration. The wristband will be provided by the authorities at Abu Dhabi Airport after you clear immigration," Etihad Airways said in the new guidelines posted on its website. "If you are holding a diplomatic passport, under the age of 18, over the age of 60, or suffering from a chronic disease, you will be exempt from having to wear the wristband."
18th Sep 2020 - Khaleej Times

One in 7 reported COVID-19 infections is among health workers, WHO says

One in seven cases of COVID-19 reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a health worker and in some countries that figure rises to one in three, the agency said on Thursday. The WHO called for frontline medical workers to be provided with protective equipment to prevent them from being infected with the novel coronavirus, and potentially spreading it to their patients and families. “Globally around 14% of COVID cases reported to the WHO are among health workers and in some countries it’s as much as 35%,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
18th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

School closures are inevitable if teachers and pupils cannot get Covid-19 tests

As executive head of an alternative provision school and two social, emotional and mental health schools (SEMH), I know from experience that the start of a new academic year brings its challenges. Pupils can take time to settle back into school life after the summer break and routines can take time to be established as well as welcoming many new children and all the issues that come with that. But in my 24-year teaching career, never before have I experienced such a difficult and frankly chaotic start to the school year on a national scale. Our teaching teams have worked tirelessly over the summer to make sure our schools are as safe as they possibly can be, meeting all government “Covid-safe" guidelines. We have introduced meticulous handwashing, created one-way systems, re-arranged classrooms, and ensured social distancing in some form or other where we can.
17th Sep 2020 - The Independent

Bugs in online booking system add to UK's Covid-19 testing crisis

The website for booking coronavirus tests is struggling to cope with the number of requests, adding more problems to those already accrued by the NHS test-and-trace scheme. People in the UK who attempt to book a test for Covid-19 online are directed – once they have passed screening questions to ensure they are entitled to the test – to a purpose-built website where they can theoretically book either a home test kit or a walk-through or drive-through test. However, in practice, an increasing number of users are reporting errors on the site itself that prevent them from even attempting to book a test.
17th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

The risk of a second lockdown exposes the UK government's failures on Covid-19

Almost two million people across Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland will face bans on mixing with other households and a 10pm curfew from midnight tonight, in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Is this a sign that the United Kingdom is heading for a second lockdown? Not according to health minister Ed Argar, who denied that a two-week nationwide lockdown is on the cards. Downing Street also remains keen to avoid a second shutdown.
17th Sep 2020 - New Statesman

Contact Tracing, the West’s Big Hope for Suppressing Covid-19, Is in Disarray

When countries across the West emerged from lockdown in the spring, governments trained legions of investigators to identify and isolate people potentially infected with the coronavirus. The goal was to prevent a resurgence of the pathogen. Four months later, the systems to find people who might pass on infections, known as contact tracing, are in disarray. Europe and the U.S. are each recording tens of thousands of new daily infections. In France, Spain and England—nations where cases are now rising quickly—investigators have been interviewing far fewer contacts of infected people than officials expected. In some U.S. states and big cities, investigators aren’t even reaching many people who test positive and those who are reached often don’t disclose their contacts. That has prevented investigators from casting a wide net to stop new infections.
17th Sep 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus cases rocket 167% in just two weeks, figures show

Cases of the coronavirus have rocketed by 167 per cent in just two weeks, figures from Test and Trace have revealed. The NHS Test and Trace programme was launched at the end of May and the figures released today show the highest weekly number of infections of the virus since the scheme was implemented.
17th Sep 2020 - The Sun


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Coronavirus: Schoolchildren and parents could be among groups prioritised for COVID-19 tests, says cabinet minister

Schoolchildren and their parents could be prioritised for coronavirus tests - after hospitals and care homes - as the government deals with "real challenges" in the system, a cabinet minister has told Sky News. The government has come under growing pressure over a lack of availability of COVID-19 tests in some areas - blamed on problems with laboratory capacity - and admitted it could take a "matter of weeks" to solve the issues.
16th Sep 2020 - Sky News

CDC director says 'masks are more guaranteed to protect you from COVID-19' than a vaccine

'I might say this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against covid than when I take a vaccine' Dr Robert Redfield said before a Senate committee. Wearing a face mask has been shown to cut a person's risks of contracting COVID-19 by up to 65% and coverings reduce the spread of infectious particles. It remains unclear how much protection a coronavirus vaccine will offer. FDA regulators set the minimum efficacy for a shot they would approve at 50%. Some people may not have an immune response to a future vaccine - and there is not yet substantial data on shots because they are not yet in use. It comes as a CDC 'playbook' said federal agencies plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine broadly and for free to Americans by January.
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

What we actually know about Covid-19

As the world battled the first wave of coronavirus infections, scientists and doctors pulled together in an unprecedented global effort to explore the virus, the illness it causes, and the drugs and vaccines that might bring it under control. But as many countries face a resurgence in cases, what have we found out about Covid-19?
16th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Lockdown sceptics are distorting the science

We are living through the worst infectious disease pandemic since 1918. While the human and economic costs have been very high, the global response to this threat has been remarkable. Nearly a million deaths have been reported, but mortality would have been far higher had the world not adopted measures that would have seemed inconceivable just a year ago. Throughout, policy has been guided by the work of thousands of clinicians and scientists across the world. The data collected by researchers in China gave the rest of the world invaluable insight into the threat we faced. While the early response in China was imperfect, as hospitals in Wuhan were overwhelmed, China locked down. I was sceptical that lockdown would succeed. But China controlled their epidemic
16th Sep 2020 - The Times

Warning of 'lockdown by default' as Hancock faces fury over testing shambles

Boris Johnson has defended the creaking testing system saying there has been 'huge, huge demand.' Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that Covid tests will have to be rationed amid shambles. He is drawing up a priority list while conceding that the current shortages is set to drag on for weeks. Schools have warned that it might be 'unsustainable' to stay open as so many are off with symptoms. Experts warn that 500,000 people a day display Covid-style symptoms even in year where no pandemic
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19 cases among people in their 40s and 50s have risen by 90% since end of August

Public Health England data reveals 23.4 cases are now diagnosed for every 100,000 people aged 40 to 49. In comparison, the Covid-19 infection rate for the same age group in England was 12.4 at the end of August. Fears of a second wave are growing as number of daily cases has topped 3,000 for the first time since May Ministers have also been spooked by spiralling outbreaks in Spain and France and rising hospital admissions. Covid-19 Hospital admissions have doubled in England over the past ten days, government figures also show. More than 150 patients required NHS treatment on Sunday, up from a rolling average of 56 the week before
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

‘Awareness not lockdown will flatten Covid curve’

During a Corona Awareness Dialogue online programme presided b chief ministers on Tuesday, leading doctors like Dr Naresh Trehan, Dr SK Sarin and Dr Devit Shetty stated that the state must launch short-term and long-term campaigns by taking the communities into confidence. Sarin advocated the need for regulated social policing for the strict compliance of masks whle suggesting Gehlot that society needs to be brought in. Campaigns like No Masks, No Entry should be started across the state. If everyone is involved and its followed for four weeks the case curve will flatten
16th Sep 2020 - Times of India

Blood test finds 60,000 undetected Covid-19 cases in Australia

In Australia, federal government-funded research has revealed far more people have potentially been exposed to the coronavirus than anticipated. Researchers from the Australian National University have now developed a new test which picks up previous Covid-19 infection in a patient's blood. The study indicates eight in 3000 healthy and previously undiagnosed Australians had likely been infected with the virus. "This suggests that instead of 11,000 cases we know about from nasal swab testing, about 70,000 people had been exposed overall," Associate Professor Ian Cockburn said. The researchers claim the test will help authorities get a better grasp of the spread of the illness – and can help demonstrate whether or not herd immunity exists.
16th Sep 2020 - Newstalk ZB

As Covid-19 Cases Rise, Europe Enters ‘Living-With-the-Virus Phase’

Europe’s leaders choose targeted measures over nationwide lockdowns, even as cases rise. In the early days of the pandemic, President Emmanuel Macron exhorted the French to wage “war” against an invisible enemy. Today, his message is to “learn how to live with the virus.’’
16th Sep 2020 - New York Times

Top medical expert says Ontario needs smaller classes as COVID-19 cases accelerate

Classes in Canada’s high risk schools should ideally have 20 or fewer students so children can maintain safe distance from each other, a top doctor who advised the government of Ontario on school reopening said, as sometimes crowded classes resumed in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases. Dr Ronald Cohn, president of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, is one author of two reports that Canada’s most populous province cited repeatedly in drafting back to school plans. Cohn said much depends on the size of classrooms - some can accommodate only 15, while others may be large enough to teach 18 or 20 children, but likely not many more than that.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters.com


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WHO reports highest one-day increase in global coronavirus cases since pandemic began

The World Health Organization on Sunday reported the highest one-day increase in coronavirus infections since the pandemic began: more than 308,000 new cases. India, the United States and Brazil logged the largest numbers of new infections on Sunday. The WHO also warned that Europe will see a surge in coronavirus-linked deaths in the fall as new infections have been soaring over the past weeks to levels not seen since the spring.
15th Sep 2020 - The Washington Post

COVID-19: Lockdown was effective, didn't have a huge peak in India, says ICMR DG

Applauding the nationwide lockdown to curb COVID-19 spread in the country, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Balram Bhargava on Tuesday said, "We distributed the COVID-19 curve in a way that we didn't have many deaths. It was because we had an effective lockdown. We didn't have a huge peak at all," according to news agency ANI. Bhargava further added, "US and European countries had a peak, then they came down and there is a second wave occurring there. We took learning from that."
15th Sep 2020 - Mint

COVID-19's Other Unnecessary Death Toll

“We need to learn to live with it.” That, essentially, is the current response being put forward by the United States government and many state governments, as COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, continues to wreak devastation around the country. At the time of this writing, the U.S. has over six million cases of COVID-19, with over 180,000 deaths. My institution, the University of Michigan, and my state, had a relatively successful response to COVID-19. Our medical center’s incident command center was opened on January 24, within days of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the U.S. Our Regional Infectious Containment Unit (RICU), a unit specially designed for highly transmissible infectious diseases, opened within five days of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the state on March 10. This rapid mobilization saved lives, and allowed even the sickest with COVID-19 a fighting chance. After peaking at close to 250 inpatients (about 25 percent of our total hospital capacity) battling COVID-19 in April, our numbers rapidly declined by the beginning of June. However, these numbers don’t tell the whole story.
15th Sep 2020 - Scientific American

NHS Highland looks to tech to help reduce Covid-19 spread in care homes

NHS Highland is looking to deploy technology in care homes which aims to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. The Scottish health board together with Highland Health Ventures and Wyld Networks are hoping to instal the technology which uses an app on smartphones and geozones, software-based virtual walls surrounding the care home. The software decides whether visitors and staff can or cannot enter the facility based on peoples’ health status and level of risk. Once inside the care home, the technology monitors and alerts social distancing between staff, visitors and residents. Also, heat maps are generated in real-time to visualise areas where social distancing is being inadvertently broken. Changes can then be made to the building layouts, routines and room occupancy numbers. In the case of an outbreak of the virus, those at risk can be informed and scheduled for testing within the NHS.
15th Sep 2020 - Digital Health

Coronavirus UK: 3,600 died from preventable conditions in lockdown

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan stressed patients should not fear straining the NHS. She said messaging should be clearer, after months of a 'Protect the NHS' slogan. Patients were also reluctant to seek hospital care in case they caught Covid-19 Dr Babu-Narayan said this caused some 3,600 unexpected deaths
15th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

UK's creaking COVID-19 test system puts health services at risk

Britain’s testing system for COVID-19 was creaking on Tuesday as a bottleneck prevented people including medics from getting a test in a potential threat to key health services, health sector organisations said. In an attempt to slow one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the West, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised in May to create a “world beating” system to test and trace people exposed to the virus. “Our members are telling us that lack of access to testing for staff is a major barrier to them delivering services,” said Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector.
15th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19 ethics: Should we deliberately infect volunteers in the name of science? (part 1)

Would you be willing to have a dose of Sars-CoV-2 sprayed up your nose for medical research? For thousands around the world, the answer is yes. Eager volunteers have already signed up to take part in human challenge trials, where participants would be deliberately infected with the virus in order to better understand the disease, and rapidly develop a treatment or vaccine. But should such studies go ahead with a dangerous and relatively new virus? In the first of two episodes, alongside a panel of experts Ian Sample delves into some of the ethical questions of human challenge trials and asks where the balance of risks and benefits currently lies
15th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

I Got a Trial Covid-19 Vaccine. Do I Still Have to Wear a Mask?

My wife and I are participating in a clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine. We had no antibodies before we received the vaccine, but we now have a lot of them, according to two independent tests. Presumably we are like millions of others who have recovered from Covid-19 and have these antibodies, and so are immune for some time. At what point can I feel comfortable, ethically, not wearing a mask, being with others who haven’t had Covid, eating at a restaurant, going to a bar, traveling to locations with restrictions on “hot spot” visitors and the like?
15th Sep 2020 - The New York Times


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Coronavirus Australia: Melbournians escape stage four restrictions by moving to countryside

Melburnians are taking extreme measures to escape the city’s stage four lockdown by upping and moving to the countryside, which has recorded far fewer cases of coronavirus. Real estate agents and academics have noticed an uptick in interest in regional centres around Melbourne, particularly concentrated in areas like Castlemaine and Bendigo. The demand for rural properties is so high that sometimes a property is listed in the morning and it’s sold by the afternoon, according to Rob Waller from Waller Realty in Bendigo.
14th Sep 2020 - NEWS.com.au

Philippines 30cm distancing rule seen as 'reckless'; deaths hit record

Experts described as dangerous and premature on Monday the Philippines’ decision to cut the social distancing minimum to 30 centimetres (12 inches) on public transport, as the country saw another daily record in newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths. Reducing gaps between passengers incrementally to a third of the 1 metre minimum could backfire, experts and medical professionals warned, and prolong a first wave of infections that the Philippines has been battling since March. The new rules took effect on Monday, when the country reported 259 new confirmed deaths, a record for the second time in three days. Total fatalities increased to 4,630, while infections have doubled in the past 35 days to 265,888, Southeast Asia’s highest number.
14th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


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Face masks could be giving people Covid-19 immunity, researchers suggest

Face masks may be inadvertently giving people Covid-19 immunity and making them get less sick from the virus, academics have suggested in one of the most respected medical journals in the world. The commentary, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, advances the unproven but promising theory that universal face mask wearing might be helping to reduce the severity of the virus and ensuring that a greater proportion of new infections are asymptomatic. If this hypothesis is borne out, the academics argue, then universal mask-wearing could become a form of variolation (inoculation) that would generate immunity and “thereby slow the spread of the virus in the United States and elsewhere” as the world awaits a vaccine. It comes as increasing evidence suggests that the amount of virus someone is exposed to at the start of infection - the “infectious dose” - may determine the severity of their illness. Indeed, a large study published in the Lancet last month found that “viral load at diagnosis” was an “independent predictor of mortality” in hospital patients. Wearing masks could therefore reduce the infectious dose that the wearer is exposed to and, subsequently, the impact of the disease, as masks filter out some virus-containing droplets.
12th Sep 2020 - Yahoo

Welsh Government urges people to keep working from home even after pandemic

Plans have been unveiled to allow a third of all Welsh workers to continue to work from home long-term, contradicting Boris Johnson’s ‘back to the office’ message. The Welsh Government is encouraging people to carry on doing their jobs remotely, even after the coronavirus crisis ends. It’s set a target of 30% of the country’s entire workforce to work from or near home in future because it will help to reduce pollution and congestion. The UK Government has been pushing for people to go back into the office, in part, because businesses in city centres are struggling.
13th Sep 2020 - Metro

Close case contact, dining out tied to COVID-19 spread

Studies today led by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigators highlight US transmission patterns of COVID-19 and show that close contact with confirmed cases and eating out at restaurants were linked to an increased likelihood of contracting the novel virus, while children in three Utah daycare centers were more likely to spread the virus to household members than among each other.
13th Sep 2020 - CIDRAP

CDC confirms asymptomatic children CAN spread COVID-19 to adults

The CDC observed 184 Utah students, teachers and family members over a three-month period. Testing and tracing revealed that 12 of the 110 students become infected with COVID-19. They spread the virus to at least 12 family members outside the facilities, even if they themselves were not showing symptoms. The study has raised alarm bells as schools and daycare centers reopen for fall. At least four teachers in three states died from COVID-19 complications since the start of the school year began less than two months ago. Among them was South Carolina third-grade teacher Demetria Bannister, 28, who died Monday just three days after she was diagnosed with the virus
12th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: Around 30% of workers in Wales could regularly work from home

Around 30% of workers in Wales could regularly work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic, the Welsh government has said. During the worst of the crisis, people from across the UK were told to work at home if possible, a move that resulted in less road congestion and pollution as well as limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Ministers in Wales have said working remotely can also improve the work-life balance and potentially drive regeneration and economic activity in communities.
13th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Belgium still at risk of coronavirus flare-up, ULB epidemiologist warns

Belgian leaders should remain wary as the country is still at risk of facing a resurgence of the new coronavirus similar to that gripping France and Spain, a Belgian epidemiologist warned. An alarming surge of new coronavirus infections could hit Belgium as early as within ten days, Yves Coppieters, an epidemiologist and professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) said in a TV interview on Thursday.
12th Sep 2020 - The Brussels Times

Fauci assures trials will find a safe coronavirus vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the trials currently underway to find a coronavirus vaccine assured that only a safe vaccine would be distributed to the public.
11th Sep 2020 - MSNBC

Ethiopia opens facility to make coronavirus test kits

With increasing cases of COVID-19, Ethiopia has opened a facility to produce kits to test for the coronavirus and says its researchers are working to develop and test a vaccine. The company producing the testing kits is a joint venture with a Chinese company, called BGI Health Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to nearly 64,000 causing almost 1,000 deaths, according to government figures. On Sunday, Ethiopia also opened a field hospital to hold up to 200 severely affected Covid-19 patients, which will start admitting patients immediately
13th Sep 2020 - Washington Post

'An Open Window's Not Gonna Cut It': Ventilation Expert Warns Teachers About Classroom COVID Risks

A ventilation expert enlisted by a group of worried NYC school teachers believes the DOE is not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in school buildings when students return on September 21st. Monona Rossol, an industrial hygienist and chemist who assesses workplace safety, held a virtual training session on Tuesday with roughly 100 members of the MORE-UFT caucus, a group that's been largely opposed the reopening of schools, arguing they’re simply not safe to reopen during the pandemic.
13th Sep 2020 - Gothamist

What if We Have to Wait Years for a Coronavirus Vaccine?

“With all the challenges regarding developing, testing, manufacturing and distributing a safe and effective vaccine — no matter how much effort so many scientists and companies put on the problem — it could still take years or even longer,” Dr. George Yancopoulos, the chief scientific officer of the biotechnology company Regeneron, told Dr. Mukherjee.
10th Sep 2020 - The New York Times


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English tracing scheme shows weekly jump in number of COVID-19 cases

The weekly number of positive COVID-19 cases in England jumped 43% at the end of August compared to the previous week, the latest data from the test and trace scheme showed on Thursday. MHS Test and Trace said on Thursday that 9,864 new people rested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week from Aug to Sept 2, the highest number of weekly positive cases since the scheme launched at the end of May.
10th Sep 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19: 170 new cases in Ontario; Quebec to fine people not wearing masks indoors

Premier Doug Ford says it’s too early to say whether Halloween trick-or-treating will be permitted. “It just makes me nervous, kids going door to door. I’d prefer not to. It’d be a shame, but we’ll check that out.” Province announces $14.75 million investment to improve access to mental health and addictions services. Ontario reports 170 new cases, including 55 in Toronto, 28 in York and 22 in Peel. Another person has died, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 2,814. 54 people are hospitalized, with the disease, including 14 in ICU and nine on ventilators Ottawa Public Health reports 12 new cases as of Thursday, down from 17 cases Wednesday and 37 on Tuesday. That brings the total number of cases in the capital region to 3,163. There are 226 active cases
10th Sep 2020 - Ottawa Citizen

Covid-19: An efficient and effective test trace regime is not a numbers game

We need a targeted testing strategy, not a blunderbuss, say Maggie Rae and Ellis Friedman. The government’s “moon shot” plan to test millions of people daily for covid-19 risks repeating the mistakes of the early days of test and trace. The ambition to deliver a further substantial increase in testing is welcome, but as the push for 100,000 daily tests exposed, an efficient and effective test trace regime is not a numbers game. Testing is not a medical intervention and on its own does nothing to control the disease. It only has value if the test is reliable and a positive test triggers a quick and effective response, which means immediately tracing the contacts of the infected person, investigating the source of their infection, and effectively preventing further transmission of the virus. Identifying large numbers of asymptomatic carriers has the potential to significantly strengthen our ability to manage the disease, but—as the continuing problems with laboratory capacity demonstrate—we are unlikely to ever have the capacity and public compliance to allow us to repeatedly test millions of asymptomatic people and then report the results and trace contacts efficiently. Even in areas where there are major outbreaks, such as Bolton, randomly offering tests to the public will not work effectively and will waste valuable resources. We need a targeted testing strategy, which is part of a well designed control strategy—not a blunderbuss.
10th Sep 2020 - The BMJ

University of Exeter to offer students Covid-19 tests

A university has signed a contract with a private company to buy thousands of coronavirus tests for students and staff. The University of Exeter will be offering the tests to anyone showing symptoms or who is deemed at high risk. Deputy vice chancellor Tim Quine said the safety of staff and students was the university's "first priority". The saliva-based tests, provided by Halo, will give results within 24 hours, it claimed. Mr Quine told BBC Radio Devon the university had to do its own bit to help prevent the spread of the virus. He said: "By bringing students to the region we know we are changing the risk dynamic".
10th Sep 2020 - BBC News

The most dangerous phase of the US Covid-19 crisis may be yet to come

Studies have shown that living through a pandemic negatively affects confidence that vaccines are safe and disinclines the affected to vaccinate their children. This is specifically the case for individuals who are in their “impressionable years” (ages 18-25) at the time of exposure because it is at this age that attitudes about public policy, including health policy, are durably formed. This heightened skepticism about vaccination, observed in a variety of times and places, persists for the balance of the individual’s lifetime. The difference now is that Trump and his appointees, by making reckless and unreliable claims, risk aggravating the problem. Thus, if steps are not taken to reassure the public of the independence and integrity of the scientific process, we will be left only with the alternative of “herd immunity”, which, given Covid-19’s many known and suspected comorbidities, is no alternative at all.
10th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Hundreds of thousands download Covid-19 tracing app

More than 500,000 people have downloaded Scotland's new contact tracing app since it went live. It became available to download free onto a smart phone from Apple's App Store or Google Play on Thursday. The Protect Scotland app lets people know if they have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive. The Scottish government has said the software will support the Test and Protect system and is "another tool in the fight against Covid-19". Up until now, contact tracing has been done manually using a method followed for years to help control the spread of infectious diseases.
10th Sep 2020 - BBC News


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France to open 20 new Covid-19 testing centres in Paris region

French health officials are to open 20 new Covid-19 testing centres in the Paris region after demand for tests soared at la rentrée, last week’s grand return to work and classes following the long school holidays. The authorities said testing capacity in and around the French capital had risen more than fourfold from 45,000 to 200,000 a week and 1 million people were being tested nationally every week – about 140,000 a day – but there were still queues and delays. The new diagnostic centres will be open to all those wishing to be tested, but certain hours will be reserved for patients considered a priority and those with Covid-19 symptoms or at risk of contamination. The health minister, Olivier Véran, has blamed the delays on a surge in demand from people returning from holidays and said the government was hoping to improve access to tests in the next few weeks.
9th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Government plans to spend £100bn on expanding testing to 10 million a day

The UK government has drawn up plans to carry out up to 10 million covid-19 tests a day by early next year as part of a huge £100bn (€110bn; $130bn) expansion of its national testing programme, documents seen by The BMJ show. The internal correspondence reveals that the government is prepared to almost match what it spends on the NHS in England each year (£130bn) to fund mass testing of the population “to support economic activity and a return to normal life” under its ambitious Operation Moonshot programme. A briefing memo sent to the first minister and cabinet secretaries in Scotland, seen by The BMJ, says that the UK-wide Moonshot programme is expected to “cost over £100bn to deliver.” If achieved, the programme would allow testing of the entire UK population each week. A separate PowerPoint presentation prepared for the government by the global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, also seen by The BMJ, says the plans had the potential to grow the UK’s testing capacity from the current 350 000 a day to up to 10 million tests a day by early 2021. Critics have already rounded on the plans as “devoid of any contribution from scientists, clinicians, and public health and testing and screening experts,” and “disregarding the enormous problems with the existing testing and tracing programmes.”
9th Sep 2020 - The BMJ

Coronavirus: Too many people getting COVID-19 tests are 'not eligible', says health secretary

People with no coronavirus symptoms getting tests are to blame for the system reaching its limit, the health secretary has suggested. Matt Hancock told Sky News the reason many people have reported being unable to book a test is because the proportion of those asking for them who have no symptoms has risen to 25%. "We have seen an increase in demand including from people who are not eligible for tests, people who don't have symptoms," he said on the Kay Burley programme. "You are eligible for a test if you have symptoms of coronavirus or if you have a very specific reason otherwise. We have seen an increase, and about 25% of people who are coming forward don't have symptoms and aren't eligible."
9th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Coronavirus Australia: Expert says we 'can't bank on a vaccine'

A health expert has revealed a coronavirus vaccine is far from a given despite worldwide investment. In an explosive interview with the Herald Sun, Brian McNamee, the chair of CSL – the firm tasked with producing vaccines in Australia – said the treatment could face a lengthy delay, if one arrives at all. “If they had asked us we would have told them that drug development is a very complex thing,” Dr McNamee said. “We can’t bank on a vaccine. I think the treatments are improving but we have to learn to live with COVID. We have to manage it.” However, Dr McNamee said the company was “cautiously optimistic”, but warned of “risks”. “…that’s why at CSL we’ve got two vaccines we could manufacture because the likelihood of both working is not high,” he told the publication.
9th Sep 2020 - NEWS.com.au


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Hundreds of pupils in isolation after coronavirus outbreaks at 62 schools

Scores of schools across the UK have seen staff and students test positive for coronavirus since children returned to the classroom following months away. Thousands of pupils were reunited with their friends and teachers last week as lessons resumed fully for the first time since March. Schools have introduced a range of different measures in a bid to stop the virus spreading as the new term gets underway. But there have still been confirmed coronavirus cases at 62 schools in the UK since pupils returned last week. Many have been forced to shut, while others have had to instruct full classes of pupils to isolate following outbreaks. Scotland, where children returned to school in August, has been the worst affected area of the UK.
8th Sep 2020 - Evening Chronicle

Entire year group at Salford school must self-isolate after positive coronavirus case

An entire year group at a secondary school in Salford must self-isolate after a positive coronavirus case. Year 7 pupils at Buile Hill Academy in Pendleton must now stay at home until September 18. They had only been back to school for three days after the academy opened on Wednesday (September 2) to Year 7 students. In a letter sent to parents on Sunday which has been sent to the Manchester Evening News , headteacher Jon Marsh said a member of the 'Year 7 bubble' had tested positive for Covid-19.
8th Sep 2020 - Manchester Evening News

Contacts of a case of coronavirus reminded to stay at home and self-isolate for full two weeks

Those contacted by a Covid-19 test and trace service are being urged to follow advice and self-isolate at home for two weeks. The reminder comes after an increase in cases in Wales. Public Health Wales revealed on Monday, September 7 that 133 new cases of the virus have been reported. Of the 18 new cases reported in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) area there were nine in Wrexham, three in Denbighshire, two in Conwy, two in Flintshire, one in Gwynedd and one on Anglesey.
8th Sep 2020 - Rhyl Journal

Facial Masking for Covid-19 — Potential for “Variolation” as We Await a Vaccine

To test our hypothesis that population-wide masking is one of those strategies, we need further studies comparing the rate of asymptomatic infection in areas with and areas without universal masking. To test the variolation hypothesis, we will need more studies comparing the strength and durability of SARS-CoV-2–specific T-cell immunity between people with asymptomatic infection and those with symptomatic infection, as well as a demonstration of the natural slowing of SARS-CoV-2 spread in areas with a high proportion of asymptomatic infections. Ultimately, combating the pandemic will involve driving down both transmission rates and severity of disease. Increasing evidence suggests that population-wide facial masking might benefit both components of the response.
8th Sep 2020 - The New England Journal of Medicine

Covid-19 in children: the signs and symptoms of coronavirus in kids including high temperature and a rash - and how they differ to adults

Several schools across the UK have reported cases of Covid-19, but symptoms in children may be harder to spot. New research suggests that the virus presents differently in children than in adults - so what signs should you look out for?
8th Sep 2020 - The Scotsman

Is the UK heading towards a second nationwide lockdown?

As coronavirus infection rates continue to rise across the UK, health experts have warned a second lockdown may be imminent. Though death tolls have remained low, the weekly rate of new cases in the UK has now risen above 20 per 100,000 people. Sunday saw the largest rise in cases since May 22 with almost 3,000 positive cases reported. In an interview with Sky News about his concerns around a second wave, World Health Organisation’s Dr David Navarro said: ‘I’m afraid it’s coming. I don’t like calling it a second wave but I believe there are going to be more spikes and indeed some surges in cases, because the virus hasn’t changed.
8th Sep 2020 - Metro

Coronavirus: Politician calls for clarity on Covid-19 testing issues

Stormont's health minister has raised concerns about the UK-wide Covid-19 test booking system after some NI users were offered tests in Great Britain. Robin Swann said he has contacted UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock "seeking action on a number of concerns". He was speaking after Sinn Féin assembly member Pat Sheehan was offered a test in Scotland and called the online booking system a "shambles". Mr Swann described it as a "glitch" and said it must be resolved as a priority. Mr Sheehan tweeted details of his personal experience of the booking system after trying to organise a test for his four-year-old daughter who had developed a high temperature.
8th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Australia's coronavirus hot spot state to deepen contact tracing

The Australian state at the centre of the country's second wave coronavirus outbreak is deepening its contract tracing programme to try and maintain a steady decline in daily new cases, amid criticism of its handling of the crisis.
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters


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Rapid Covid-19 testing system 'quite some way' from being reality, says Sturgeon

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said her administration is in discussions with the UK Government about a rapid testing system. She said pilot work is under way. “We are as keen as anybody to see these kinds of scientific developments give us more solutions to Covid than we have right now,” the First Minister said. “But we have to be realistic, we are still quite some way from that being a reality on a mass scale across the country.” Discussing a vaccine, she said: “We all hope there will be an effective vaccine as quickly as possible. “But we cannot right now bank on it, just as we can’t bank on some of these other scientific developments.”
7th Sep 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Test and trace could be overwhelmed if 'dramatic' rise in Covid-19 cases

The nation’s test-and-trace system will be overwhelmed if there is a “dramatic” rise in Covid-19 cases, ministers were warned today after the biggest daily leap since May. Concerns are rising after some people were being asked to travel hundreds of miles to get tested because there were no slots available at their local testing centre.
7th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Health experts welcome Melbourne lockdown extension but question curfew

Public health experts have backed the Victorian government’s decision to extend Melbourne’s stage four lockdown and only lift all restrictions once there is no community transmission of Covid-19, but have questioned the effectiveness of the overnight curfew. The stage four lockdown has been extended for two weeks with some allowances made for single people living alone and a doubling of the time permitted for exercise. After that, from 28 September, the harshest measures of stage four will continue – including the curfew – but people will be able to meet in larger groups outdoors and some students will return to school.
7th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Latest Covid-19 trend suggests younger people could avoid future lockdowns while elderly shield themselves

Older people appear to be voluntarily shielding from the spread of Covid-19 with figures showing new infections are mainly confined to younger adults. Experts are now suggesting more mature citizens should be covered by any future restrictions while younger people continue to work - avoiding the threat of strict new lockdown rules. There has been a steady rise in coronavirus infections but no significant rise in the number of patients hospitalised, the Express reports. New data suggests the peak age range for new coronavirus cases covers people under 40.
7th Sep 2020 - Wales Online


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Senegal's quiet COVID success: Test results in 24 hours, temperature checks at every store, no fights over masks

It's Senegal, a west African country with a fragile health care system, a scarcity of hospital beds and about seven doctors for every 100,000 people. And yet Senegal, with a population of 16 million, has tackled COVID-19 aggressively and, so far, effectively. More than six months into the pandemic, the country has about 14,000 cases and 284 deaths. "You see Senegal moving out on all fronts: following science, acting quickly, working the communication side of the equation, and then thinking about innovation," said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan foreign policy think tank. Senegal deserves "to be in the pantheon of countries that have ... responded well to this crisis, even given its low resource base," Devermont said.
6th Sep 2020 - USA TODAY

Tiny village offers window into India's surging COVID-19 caseload

The quaint, sugarcane growing village of Rajewadi in India's west did not have a single case of confirmed coronavirus until mid-August. Now one in every four people there is positive for the virus, with police blaming a local religious event for the spread.
6th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

The US coronavirus death toll is projected to reach 410,000 in the next 4 months if mask use wanes

More than 410,000 people in the US could die from the coronavirus by January 1, more than doubling the current death toll, a new model often cited by top health officials predicted Friday. That would mean 224,000 more lives lost in the US over the next four months.
5th Sep 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus: Even limited use of contact-tracing apps has effects, says study

Contact-tracing apps reduce transmissions and deaths even at very low levels of adoption, according to a new study from the University of Oxford and Google. The study provides reassurance regarding the value of coronavirus contact-tracing apps, which some had suggested would need to be used by 60% of the population to be effective. But the research emphasises that digital notifications to people who may have been exposed to the virus still work best when complemented by manual contact tracing, when researchers take histories from patients to find out who they had been in close contact with.
3rd Sep 2020 - Sky News

Australia should attempt to drive coronavirus cases to ZERO, former health boss says

Australia should drive new COVID-19 cases to zero, public policy think tank says The Grattan Institute report said 'short-term pain' will pay off on the other side Zero cases means Australia can avoid reimposed lockdowns and more deaths
3rd Sep 2020 - Daily Mail


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Covid-19 tracing tool to be built into phones, Apple and Google announce

Future versions of Android and iOS operating systems are set to have a Covid-19 notification system built-in, Apple and Google have announced. The system will replace the need for users to install contact-tracing apps developed by public health bodies. The exposure notification system uses Bluetooth signals to measure time and distance between devices to determine a user’s risk of Covid-19. The system, dubbed exposure notification express, would still require a user to opt-in and does not collect location of identity information. Previously Apple and Google’s API required users to download a contact-tracing app to allow it to track time and distance between device and send push notifications to users who may have been exposed to the virus. Under the new system no app is required, meaning public health authorities would be able to send notifications to those considered at risk of Covid-19 without needing to develop and maintain an app. “As the next step in our work with public health authorities on exposure notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the exposure notifications system without the need for them to build and maintain an app,” a joint statement from Apple and Google read.
3rd Sep 2020 - Digital Health

Covid-19: Reusable face masks to be provided for school transport

Reusable face masks will be provided to approximately 80,000 pupils in Northern Ireland entitled to free home-to-school transport. Each pupil will get a pack that includes 10 reusable masks. Schools will also be provided with home testing kits to be distributed to parents of pupils with symptoms of Covid-19. Every school in Northern Ireland will receive 10 kits in the first instance as part of the scheme. Pupils in the vast majority of schools returned to class on Tuesday. Face coverings on dedicated school buses are not compulsory, but are strongly recommended by both the Department of Education (DE) and Translink.
3rd Sep 2020 - BBC News

Why COVID-19 vaccines need to prioritize 'superspreaders'

A committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – at the behest of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health – has proposed an equitable way to allocate the vaccine. They recommend first responders and health care workers take top priority. Older adults in congregate living situations would also be part of a first vaccination phase, according to the plan. We are faculty at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Southern California who have spent decades studying health economics and epidemiology. One of us is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Having seen firsthand the real risks of rapid, asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 among younger adults, we disagree with some of the recommendations. Asymptomatic spread is shutting down schools and universities nationwide and threatening surrounding communities. We argue that this pandemic requires a different model for making vaccination choices. After taking care of essential workers, vaccinations should be given to the biggest transmitters of the virus – mostly the young – and only then to the most vulnerable.
3rd Sep 2020 - Fairfield Citizen


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Protect Scotland 'proximity contact tracing app' will be based on Ireland's Covid Tracker

A new ‘proximity tracing app’ which alerts users when they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 is set to be released later this month by the Scottish Government. Protect Scotland will be based on joint Apple and Google technology that has been in use in Ireland in the development of its Covid Tracker app, which has seen 1.5m downloads, equivalent to a quarter of the population, since its launch on July 7. The Bluetooth-enabled technology, developed by software company NearForm, based in Waterford in the south east of the country, on behalf of the Irish Health Services Executive (HSE), is being adapted for use in Scotland by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS). The application – described by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as a “significant enhancement” to the Scottish Government’s Test & Protect regime – uses an ‘exposure notifications system’, which facilitates contact tracing apps’ access to Bluetooth and allow phones running the operating systems to swap anonymous IDs.
2nd Sep 2020 - FutureScot

Coronavirus testing rationed amid outbreaks

The coronavirus testing system is struggling to keep up with demand as a growing number of people apply for swabs. People with symptoms applying for drive-through tests have been directed more than 100 miles (161km) away. The government says areas with fewer coronavirus cases have had their testing capacity reduced, in order to cope with outbreaks. But public health experts warn this could miss the start of new spikes. Although cases are now at a relatively low level, the UK's chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty has said he expects containing the virus to be more difficult as we go into winter. And the return to school and workplaces could lead to even more demand for testing.
2nd Sep 2020 - BBC News


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‘Second coronavirus lockdown is accepting we learned nothing from first wave,’ warns expert

The health secretary Matt Hancock has recently warned Brits that the government may need to put extensive lockdown measures back in place if there is a second wave of Covid-19. However, when appearing on This Morning today, Prof Carl Henegan explained how this move would be the government’s way of accepting they learned nothing from the past six months. When chatting to Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, the expert shared his views on the pandemic and how he feels another lockdown is not inevitable.
1st Sep 2020 - Metro

More testing alone will not get us out of this pandemic

What’s more, after decades of discrimination and mistreatment, communities of colour are rational in hesitating to get tested, provide personal information to contact tracers or download a tracing app. Many have experienced unfair surveillance by law enforcement. Racism can even be baked into medical technologies. Pushing these towards disadvantaged communities could be ineffective, or even backfire. Finally, the test–trace–isolate approach makes some sense for those with a relatively spacious home and the ability to work remotely. But for those in crowded apartments who cannot get paid time off or work from home, ‘isolation’ is almost impossible.
2nd Sep 2020 - Nature.com

Scotland to get dedicated Covid-19 tracing app

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new "proximity tracing app" to combat the spread of Covid-19. Ms Sturgeon described Protect Scotland as a "significant enhancement" to the existing test and protect system. And she vowed that important assurances about privacy and confidentiality would be given when it launches later this month. She added: "I encourage everyone to download and use the app as soon as it becomes available." The announcement comes as the number of confirmed cases increased by 154, including 66 in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
1st Sep 2020 - BBC News

Europe’s fractured contact tracing linked to post-holiday Covid-19 surge

In early August, seven groups of young people returned home from Croatia, Greece and Malta to the Italian province of Padua, one of Europe’s early battlegrounds against Covid-19, and tested positive for the virus. The new clusters, involving at least 25 positive cases, led to 159 other people also being placed in isolation for having had potential contact with the virus, according to public health documents reviewed by the Financial Times. But the positive cases were only detected by track-and-trace protocols after they had developed symptoms — a lag of weeks in many cases. Faster tracing across borders or testing before travel would have limited the spread, experts say.
1st Sep 2020 - Financial Times

France Tightens Mask Protocols After Surge in Virus Infections

From Tuesday, masks will be mandatory for companies with groups working in enclosed spaces, Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne said Sunday on BFM TV. While opera singers are among those who can be granted exemptions, mask-wearing is becoming entrenched in daily life. Cities from Paris to Marseille are making masks compulsory, even outside, while students over 11 years old will have to cover their faces when returning to school next month. President Emmanuel Macron is trying to avoid another nationwide lockdown, but cautioned he couldn’t entirely rule it out. That comes as the government plans to unveil another recovery package next Thursday, after the economy shrank by 14% during the second quarter.
1st Sep 2020 - bnnbloomberg

Coronavirus: South Korea returns to lockdown and pleads with citizens to adhere to social distancing guidelines

South Korea has implemented a second nationwide lockdown to fend off a new wave of coronavirus and pleaded with its citizens to again adhere to social distancing rules. “Government officials and administrative orders alone cannot stop the daily activities of citizens,” said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement on Sunday. “We urge the public to practice complete social distancing over the next week.”
1st Sep 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

New Zealanders wear face masks as Auckland lockdown lifted

Schools and businesses reopened in Auckland on Monday after the lifting of a lockdown in New Zealand’s largest city to contain the resurgence of the coronavirus, but face masks were made mandatory on public transport across the country. The Pacific nation of 5 million people had appeared to have succeeded in halting community transmission of COVID-19, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown earlier this month. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scaled back the restrictions in Auckland on Sunday, but made masks compulsory on public transport.
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Face mask sales soar as Swedes eye potential guideline change

Sweden is seeing a spike in demand for face masks, several drug stores said, ahead of a possible U-turn by the authorities, who have so far doubted their effectiveness in fighting the spread of the new coronavirus. Unlike most other European countries, Sweden has kept many businesses, restaurants and most schools open, while not recommending the use of face masks, which remain a rare sight unlike in neighbouring Denmark, Norway and Finland. But after the public health agency (FHM) said two weeks ago that it may issue new recommendations, Swedes appear to be stockpiling. Face mask sales at online pharmacist Apotea have increased to around 400,000 units a week in the past two to three weeks from 150,000 in previous weeks, CEO Par Svardson said.
31st Aug 2020 - Reuters


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Covid vaccine rush could make pandemic worse, say scientists

The rush to immunise populations against Covid-19 could lead to the rollout of a vaccine that is not very effective and risk worsening the pandemic, leading scientists have said. Politicians and commercial companies are competing to be the first to license a vaccine, but experts say the world would be better served by waiting until comprehensive results showed at least 30-50% effectiveness. Ministers announced on Friday that the UK would take emergency powers to push any vaccine through the regulatory processes with unprecedented speed before the end of the year. Donald Trump wants to be able to announce the US has a vaccine before tthe presidential election on 3 November. A vaccine is vital to stopping the pandemic, but Prof Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University and an adviser to the World Health Organization, said the first vaccine would be bought and used all over the world even if it had low efficacy. Even if it protected only a minority of the population, it would be regarded as the standard by which later vaccines would be measured. That could even lead to inferior vaccines being approved, because they would not have to show that they were any better.
30th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

New Zealanders wear face masks as Auckland lockdown lifted

Schools and businesses reopened in Auckland on Monday after the lifting of a lockdown in New Zealand’s largest city to contain the resurgence of the coronavirus, but face masks were made mandatory on public transport across the country. The Pacific nation of 5 million people had appeared to have succeeded in halting community transmission of COVID-19, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown earlier this month. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scaled back the restrictions in Auckland on Sunday, but made masks compulsory on public transport.
31st Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

France Covid-19: Paris compulsory face-mask rule comes into force

Wearing a face mask in public has become mandatory across Paris and several surrounding areas, amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in France. On Friday the country recorded 7,379 new infections - its highest number since early May. The number of "red zones" where the virus is in active circulation has risen from two to 21. Announcing new local curbs on Thursday, PM Jean Castex said he wanted to avoid another general lockdown. He said the coronavirus was "gaining ground" across France, and that if the government did not act fast infection growth could become "exponential". Despite a sharp rise in cases in recent weeks, daily death tolls have remained low. Overall, more than 3
31st Aug 2020 - BBC News

Refusal to wear a facemask linked to sociopathy | News

People who refuse to follow rules on wearing facemasks are more likely to have malevolent sociopathic traits, a study suggests. Individuals who showed signs of the so-called dark-triad of personality traits — narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy — were also more likely to trivialise the risks posed by Covid-19 and to avoid regular hand-washing and social distancing. Researchers from Brazil asked about 1,600 volunteers to fill in two questionnaires often used by psychologists to assess empathy and expose personality disorders. They also asked them about their attitudes on rules and guidelines designed to contain the virus. They then divided their subjects into two groups. About 1,200 people qualified for an “empathy group”: those who had displayed an interest in underrstanding other people’s feelings and motivations.
31st Aug 2020 - The Times

Coronavirus: Masks now mandatory for secondary pupils in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Pupils in Scotland and Northern Ireland now have to wear face masks in school corridors and communal areas to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission. The new rules, which kick in today, apply to all children over 12 in Scotland - and on school transport for primary pupils five and above. In Northern Ireland, post-primary pupils and teachers will also have to wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas. Masks on school buses are strongly recommended but not mandatory.
31st Aug 2020 - Sky News

New guidance says Kentucky students should wear masks at all times, even if 6 feet apart

Kentucky’s students and staff should wear masks at all times while they are in school, even if they are at least 6 feet apart, according to updated #HealthyAtSchool guidance from Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration. The updated mask guidance for public school students and staff was discussed Monday during a Kentucky Department of Education Superintendents' Advisory Council meeting. "The use of cloth face coverings (masks) should be required by all students and staff at all times while in the building or on the bus, unless medically waivered," the new #HealthyAtSchool guidance says. "Students and staff should only lower their masks while actively eating or drinking."
31st Aug 2020 - Courier Journal

Face mask sales surge in Sweden after country warned it may advise people to wear them in

Sweden's public health agency director said on Aug. 18 there were some instances - such as on public transport - that wearing a mask could be beneficial. Face mask sales at have soared by more than 100% at some pharmacists. State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell had said they can do more harm than good
31st Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

China's offer of coronavirus tests for all in Hong Kong meets with public distrust

A Chinese government offer to test all Hong Kong residents for the novel coronavirus is meeting scepticism from the city’s medical community and public and is emerging as a politically charged issue ahead of the launch of the plan next week. A 60-person mainland Chinese team will carry out tests and build temporary hospitals in the first direct help from Chinese health officials for the semi-autonomous city in its battle with the epidemic. But it comes at a sensitive time for the former British colony, with anxiety running high about what many of its 7.5 million residents see as Beijing’s efforts to rein in their freedoms, in particular with a national security law imposed in June. Against this background, some democracy activists have suggested that people’s DNA will be collected and abused under the cover of testing. The city government has dismissed that saying no samples would be taken out of the city.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


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Covid-19: Five ways to avoid catching the virus indoors

Good ventilation could be the key to avoiding coronavirus as autumn approaches and people spend more time indoors. For months we've been told to wash our hands and maintain social distancing to beat coronavirus. But scientists and engineers say we also need to think about the air we breathe, as children go back to school and more people return to offices. Good ventilation matters in five ways.
27th Aug 2020 - BBC News

France to make face masks mandatory everywhere in Paris

Face masks must be worn everywhere in the French capital Paris from Friday morning in order to curb a surge in coronavirus infections, police said on Thursday. The measure applies to all pedestrians as well as cyclists in Paris and its suburbs in an area that includes three neighbouring departments that form the Petite Couronn inner ring around Paris, a densely populated area with a total population of nearly seven million people. Motorists will not have to wear a mask inside their car. “The deterioration of the health situation...has led the prefect to take this strong measure in the interest of the population,” the Paris police prefecture said in a statement.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Active Irish COVID-19 tracing app users drop on battery problem - HSE

A brief technical issue led some people to delete Ireland’s COVID-19 tracing app, leaving 1.2 million active users compared to the 1.65 million who downloaded it since early July, the head of Ireland’s health service operator said on Thursday. Ireland’s app has been downloaded by 33% of the population - among the highest take up rates in Europe - and its developers have since been hired to roll out a similar service in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Gibraltar and Pennsylvania. Like many European versions, Ireland’s app uses architecture designed by Alphabet’s Google and Apple. A Google Play Services update caused the app to rapidly drain handset batteries for a two-day period earlier this month. “There were some issues, which we have addressed with Google and Apple. We’ve a total of 1.65 million downloads, there were of course some that were deleted and we’ve probably about 1.2 million active users but we are seeing people reloading,” Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid told a news conference.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

California, Florida, New York, Texas will not follow new U.S. COVID-19 testing plan

Several large U.S. states are not heeding new federal health officials’ calls to reduce COVID-19 testing of some exposed to the virus, joining a broad rebuke of the Trump administration by public health leaders.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters

WHO warns young people flouting lockdown rules could lead to spike in deaths of elderly this winter

As the winter months get nearer, a stark warning about a possible increase in coronavirus deaths has been issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). During a briefing on Thursday morning, WHO’s European regional director Hans Kluge warned that as youngsters stay in more during the colder months they may be more likely to spread coronavirus, especially if they visit multiple households. Kluge said there was growing evidence that young people were infecting people at social gatherings and said that this could result in increase hospitalisations and deaths. He said: "The younger people are not necessarily going to die from it but it's a tornado with a long tail…
27th Aug 2020 - Yahoo Finance UK


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Aug 2020

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Face masks in schools: Boris Johnson performs U-turn on advice

Boris Johnson has abandoned advice that pupils should not wear face masks in English secondary schools. The prime minister performed his latest U-turn in the face of growing pressure from headteachers, teaching unions and medical experts. Face coverings will be mandatory for children in all schools that lie in areas subject to stricter coronavirus restrictions.
25th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Column: Megacities after coronavirus

Densely populated and highly connected megacities such as London and New York have been the most dynamic centres of the modern economy but for the same reasons have proved especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Density and connectedness have supported a wealth of innovation and high productivity, but crowded housing, workspaces and transport systems have created ideal conditions for the transmission of pulmonary disease. Regional, national and international connectedness ensured megacities were the first to receive the virus, and then transmitted it onward to secondary and tertiary cities and eventually rural areas. High density ensured that once the virus had entered a megacity it would spread quickly and cause high death rates, forcing urban lockdowns to bring transmission back under control.
25th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Remote working during Covid-19 pandemic inspiring many people to flee pricey capital for new life in countryside

Remote working has inspired many people to flee the pricey capital and find a new life in the countryside. High rents and house prices in Dublin may act as an inspiration for some, but others just
25th Aug 2020 - Irish Sun

COVID-19 and schools reopening: Now is the time to embrace outdoor education

Whether and how schools will reopen in September given COVID-19 has been discussed in news and social media throughout the summer. Smaller class sizes, alternating attendance patterns, face-to-face or online instruction and equipment such as mandatory masks have been debated by both politicians and the public. But there is another, more obvious answer that allows for social distancing and addresses the risks of transmitting COVID-19 indoors. Moving classes outside deserves serious consideration not only for better ventilation, but also to introduce more public education devoted to learning on, from and with the land.
25th Aug 2020 - The Conversation CA

New Thinking on Covid Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly

...Still, because of the close connection between the pandemic and economic activity, many epidemiologists and economists say the economy can’t recover while the virus is out of control. “The virus is going to determine when we can safely reopen,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in April. The Federal Reserve said in late July that “the path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus.”
26th Aug 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Tips on how to keep kids safe when they return to school

it's been over six months since the coronavirus lockdown closed schools to the majority of children. The new school year sees them set to reopen but with new precautions put in place. Treated.com Clinical Lead, Dr Daniel Atkinson, offers tips on how parents can best prepare their children for returning to school.
24th Aug 2020 - Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Young Italians blamed for rise in coronavirus cases

Cases of the coronavirus have surged in Italy, topping 1,000 on both days of the weekend and raising fears that the country may be facing a devastating second wave. The new clusters are scattered around the country and are being blamed on young holidaymakers who ignore government guidelines as they drink and socialise. Yesterday there were 953 new cases and four deaths. Several German states said that they were preparing to restrict gatherings to try to control a rise in infections there. Italy was the first European country to be engulfed by the pandemic and one of the first to emerge after a strict 70-day national lockdown.
25th Aug 2020 - The Times


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'Clear direction' needed on face coverings in schools, union says | ITV News

"Clear direction" is needed from the government on whether pupils should wear face coverings in schools, a teaching union has said. Despite England's education secretary insisting the measure is not needed as schools in England prepare to reopen, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) is calling for the issue to be kept under review. It comes as the Scottish Government is expected to state its decision on face coverings in schools in light of the latest guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that children aged 12 and over should wear a mask. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said as evidence continues to emerge, Westminster should review its guidance.
25th Aug 2020 - ITV News

Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon asks public to ‘bear with us’ over testing

Nicola Sturgeon has appealed for patience after Scots requesting Covid tests were misdirected to centres in England and Northern Ireland. The First Minister asked people to “bear with us” while “issues” at the system, which is run by the UK Government, were corrected after a weekend of high demand. It followed reports of multiple technical problems with the booking system, including people in Edinburgh being advised their nearest testing centre was in Newcastle. The BBC reported some Glasgow residents were being offered tests in Stranraer instead of Glasgow airport.
25th Aug 2020 - HeraldScotland.com

Coronavirus: Scottish high schools to introduce new face covering rules

The use of face coverings in corridors and communal areas of secondary schools is set to be introduced in Scotland. The government is in the "final stages" of consultations with teachers and councils about having pupils wear face coverings while moving between classes. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was acting in response to new guidance from the World Health Organization. Ministers are also considering whether to make masks mandatory on school transport - but not inside classrooms. The use of face coverings in schools is currently voluntary, although some schools have started advising staff and pupils to wear them to help combat the spread of Covid-19.
24th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Silent Spreaders?

This article is part of Harvard Medical School’s continuing coverage of medicine, biomedical research, medical education and policy related to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the disease COVID-19. In the most comprehensive study of COVID-19 pediatric patients to date, Harvard Medical School researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital and Mass General Hospital for Children provide data showing that children may play a larger role in the community spread of COVID-19 than previously thought.
20th Aug 2020 - Harvard Medical School


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Aug 2020

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Children over 12 should wear face masks to combat Covid, says WHO

The World Health Organization says children aged 12 and over should wear masks to help tackle the pandemic. Masks should be worn when 1-metre distancing cannot be guaranteed and there is widespread transmission, it advised. It is the first time the WHO has issued guidance on masks for children and comes less than two weeks before pupils in England return to school. Although a small number of schools – including James Gillespie’s high school in Edinburgh and Eaton Mill primary school in Milton Keynes – have said they will require children to wear masks, the government says that masks are “not recommended” for primary or secondary school children.
23rd Aug 2020 - The Guardian

UK's cheap food could fuel Covid-19 spread, says WHO envoy

Britain’s demand for cheap food could be fuelling the spread of the coronavirus in factories, a leading health expert has warned, as analysis shows nearly 1,500 cases across the UK. Cramped conditions in some factories and in low-paid workers’ homes, spurred by the UK’s desire for cheaply produced food, may have driven infection rates in the sector, according to David Nabarro, a World Health Organization special envoy on Covid-19. In the early stages of the pandemic, the UK avoided the scale of Covid-19 outbreaks seen in meat factories and other food processing plants in countries such as the US. But a Guardian analysis suggests that reported UK outbreaks of the disease are now increasing in frequency, with examples of cases spreading into the wider community.
21st Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Teachers have duty of care beyond school gates, top PHE scientist says

Teachers have been warned that they are spreading Covid-19 after a leading government scientist said they were far more likely to transmit the virus than children. New research from Public Health England revealed that two thirds of outbreaks arose from staff-to-staff transmission, or staff-to-pupil. In June the number of schools open was between 20,500 and 23,400, with pupil numbers increasing from 475,000 to 1,646,000. In June and last month 200 children and staff were affected by the illness. Over the same period 25,470 cases were recorded across England as a whole. Thirty outbreaks, defined as two or more linked cases in one school, were recorded between the start of June and the end of last month.
22nd Aug 2020 - The Times

Germany COVID concerts: Experiment to study virus transmission

Scientists in Germany have held three pop concerts to study the risk of virus transmission during large events. The mass experiment, staged with nearly 2,000 people in the city of Leipzig, comes at a time the country has banned all such gatherings until at least the end of October.
22nd Aug 2020 - Aljazeera.com

Socialising pushes Spain’s Covid-19 rate far above rest of Europe

Coronavirus is spreading far faster in Spain than in the rest of Europe, confronting the country with a race against time to bring the outbreak under control before the return to school and work next month following the holiday season. Figures published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, an EU agency, on Friday indicated that in the previous 14 days Spain had reported about 145 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 of population. Apart from Malta, no other European country had a ratio above 100, and the Spanish figures compare with ratios of 51 in France and 21 in the UK. In three districts of Madrid, the Spanish region with most cases, the equivalent ratio is above 400 and in one it is almost 600. On Friday, the regional government of Madrid urged people in the worst-affected areas to stay at home.
21st Aug 2020 - Financial Times


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Europe can fight coronavirus without lockdowns - WHO

Europe can combat Covid-19 without full lockdowns now that authorities are better prepared and have gained knowledge about how to fight it in recent months, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. "With the basic nationwide and additional targeted measures, we are in a much better position to stamp out these localised virus flare-ups," the head of the WHO's European branch, Hans Kluge, told reporters. "We can manage the virus and keep the economy running and an education system in operation," he added. Europe has seen a steady rise in the number of cases for the past two months, he said. In the first week of August, 40,000 more cases were reported than in the first week of June when cases were at their lowest.
20th Aug 2020 - RTE.ie

Virtual Classes Can't Stop Explosion of Off-Campus Virus Cases

Even with more universities replacing in-person classes with virtual ones, the threat of Covid-19 lingers in college towns with their shared apartments, Greek houses and spirit of untrammeled off-campus freedom.At University of Notre Dame in Indiana, a surge of more than 150 positive cases in two days among its 12,000 students prompted the school to move to virtual instruction for at least two weeks. Contact tracing efforts, however, found that most of those cases stemmed from seniors living off campus.Five of Sean Ebben’s six roommates tested positive this week. Still, Ebben said he plans to stay in the six-bedroom split-level home they share. The school moved one infected roommate to a quarantine apartment, but the four others are planning to stay in the house, based on guidance from the university, Ebben said. He tested negative Tuesday morning through a rapid test at the football stadium.
21st Aug 2020 - bnnbloomberg

Fauci explains why temperature checks to fight COVID-19 are unreliable

“We have found at the NIH, that it is much much better to just question people when they come in and save the time, because the temperatures are notoriously inaccurate, many times,” Fauci said last week. The nation’s top infectious disease expert went on to say the White House done away with temperature checks altogether. Not everyone who has the coronavirus will experience fever as a symptom, and a significant portion of people who become infected with the virus have mild or no symptoms at all.
19th Aug 2020 - The Hill

Coronavirus antibodies tests 'put public at risk'

Poor regulation of antibodies tests - that could indicate if someone has had coronavirus - could be putting the public at risk, doctors have warned. The Royal College of Pathologists has written to the health secretary, calling for rules to be tightened on kits sold direct to consumers. The letter warns they can "mislead the public and put individuals at risk". No antibodies test has been officially approved for at-home use in the UK - but many different types are available. It is still not known whether having antibodies will protect people from a second infection.
20th Aug 2020 - BBC News

COVID-19 in babies and children

Children of all ages can become ill with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). But most kids who are infected typically don't become as sick as adults and some might not show any symptoms at all. Know the symptoms of COVID-19 in babies and children, why children might be affected differently by COVID-19 and what you can do to prevent the spread of the virus.
20th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

These variables affect whether you live, die or get help during the pandemic

As the US continues to grapple with the dual crises of coronavirus and racism, two things have become clear: People of color are being hit hardest by the virus, and systemic inequities are largely to blame. Eight months into the pandemic, race and ethnicity data on Covid-19 now paint a more complete picture than before. The numbers are stark, confirming what experts and minority communities have long suspected. Black, Latino and Native American people are nearly three times as likely to be infected with Covid-19 than their White counterparts. Those three groups are about five times as likely to be hospitalized. And people of color across the board are more likely to die of the virus.
21st Aug 2020 - CNN

Covid-19 face masks call as Ireland's main churches 'recommend' use

The four main churches in Ireland have issued a joint statement in which they are “formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all services of worship”. The move comes amid growing concerns about rising Covid-19 infection rates across the island. The Catholic Church, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church have issued the statement. They say: "At this time, both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, the governments have not formally made mandatory the wearing of face coverings at services of worship. "This is, in part, due to the fact that as churches we are committed to maintaining 2 metre physical distancing between household groups and strict adherence to all government guidance on hand hygiene, cleaning, ventilation etc.
20th Aug 2020 - Belfast Live

Are New Yorkers Wearing Face Masks? Here’s What We Found

The mask rule Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo handed down on April 15 leaves some room for interpretation. It requires that those over age 2 who can medically tolerate covering their mouths and noses do so “when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance,” which is understood as six feet from other people. But if you walk by someone and happen to pass within four feet for a split second, does that count as being “unable to maintain” social distance? Who knows. At the corners where we did our counts, sometimes people were closer than six feet apart. Sometimes they weren’t.
20th Aug 2020 - The New York Times


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Disability homes at risk of Covid-19 exposure, royal commission hears

Carers working across multiple disability group homes and the aged care sector could spread the virus into the disability community, the royal commission has heard. Prof Anne Kavanagh, the director of the Disability Institute at the University of Melbourne, said on Thursday federal and state authorities needed to look at ways to ensure “minimised movement of workers”, and also warned about a lack of PPE training for some carers. Describing a “perfect storm”, she said that the closure of NDIS day-programs once lockdowns began meant carers “started working across multiple group homes because the residents were home more”. “That’s a real issue and some of them work for multiple service providers and some work in aged care,” she said.
20th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

WHO says Covid spread by 'unaware' youth; European rules tighten – as it happened

France plans to make masks compulsory in almost all workplaces and Finland will ration common medicines in anticipation of a second wave this autumn as new coronavirus infections continue to rise around Europe. Amid evidence from several countries that the increase on the continent is being driven mainly by younger people, the World Health Organization said 20- to 50-year-olds were also the main spreaders of the virus in the western Pacific region.
19th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Millions return to schools lacking handwashing facilities: UN

A joint report (PDF) published last week by the WHO and UNICEF, the UN children's fund, revealed that 43 percent of schools worldwide lacked facilities for basic handwashing with soap and water in 2019, affecting 818 million children - more than a third of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In the least-developed countries, seven out of 10 schools lack basic handwashing facilities, and half of all schools lack basic sanitation and water services, the agencies said.
19th Aug 2020 - Al Jazeera English

All Workers In France Must Wear Masks Starting Sept. 1

The French government says people will be required to wear face masks in workplaces, following a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections since the country began lifting lockdown restrictions in July.
19th Aug 2020 - NPR

Britain to bring in mass testing to curb spread of COVID-19

Britain plans to bring in regular, population-wide testing for COVID-19 so it can suppress the spread of the virus and ease restrictions that have crippled its economy without triggering a second wave in one of the worst-hit countries in the world. Health minister Matt Hancock said the government was trialling a range of new, faster tests that can give instant results and hoped to roll them out towards the end of the year. “The mass testing, population testing, where we make it the norm that people get tested regularly, allowing us therefore to allow some of the freedoms back, is a huge project in government right now,” he told BBC Radio. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been criticised by political opponents and health experts for being too slow to go into lockdown and in rolling out testing to know how far the virus had spread.
19th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


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Wearing a mask helps stop Covid-19 spreading, study confirms

Wearing a face covering lowers the risk of spreading Covid-19 to others through speaking and coughing, new research suggests. Speaking and coughing without face protection exposes people nearby to droplets carrying the virus that could otherwise be stopped by wearing a mask, according to the study. Researchers found someone standing two metres from a coughing person with no mask is exposed to 10,000 times more droplets than someone half a metre from someone coughing and wearing a covering. Lead researcher Dr Ignazio Maria Viola, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, said: ‘We knew face masks of various materials are effective to a different extent in filtering small droplets.
18th Aug 2020 - Metro.co.uk

COVID-19 linked to increase in type 1 diabetes in children

A new study suggests there could be a link between COVID-19 and the development of type 1 diabetes in children. Thirty children in hospitals across north-west London presented with new-onset type 1 diabetes during the peak of the pandemic, approximately double the number of cases typically seen in this period in previous years, with clusters of cases in two of these hospitals. Twenty-one children were tested for COVID-19 or had antibody tests to see whether they had previously been exposed to the virus. A total of five children with newly diagnosed diabetes had evidence of past or current coronavirus infection.
18th Aug 2020 - Imperial College London

Coronavirus digest: Younger people driving COVID-19 spread, says WHO

The proportion of people aged under 50 who are infected with the coronavirus is growing globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. "The epidemic is changing," WHO's Western Pacific regional director, Takeshi Kasai, told a virtual briefing. "People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread." He said many of them were not aware they were infected, increasing the risk of their infecting vulnerable people, such as the elderly or those with medical conditions that put them in greater danger of contracting a severe form of COVID-19. The WHO also warned drugmakers to take all due precautions and carry out all the prescribed research and development steps when producing vaccines against the disease.
18th Aug 2020 - Deutsche Welle

COVID-19 Response Team key as MSU reopens campus amid pandemic

As in-person classes resumed Monday, the university launched a new resource on the campus: The COVID-19 Response Team. "This team will be response for our on-the-ground work related to the coronavirus," said MSU President Clif Smart. Students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed are to contact the team at COVID19@MissouriState.edu
18th Aug 2020 - Springfield News-Leader


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Masks 'tremendously effective' at curbing Covid-19 spread

Wearing a face mask significantly cuts the risk of spreading Covid-19 through speaking and coughing, research suggests. A new study by scientists at the University of Edinburgh has found face coverings can block out 99.9 per cent of potentially lethal droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or talks. The findings show that a person is exposed to 10,000 times more particles from a person who coughs with their face uncovered while standing two metres away than from someone half a metre away who is wearing a mask.
18th Aug 2020 - The Scotsman

Coronavirus: Why face masks DO work, according to study

Droplets expelled by the mouth and nose are the main way Covid-19 can spread Scientists conducted experiments with real people and mannequins. They compared droplet levels on surfaces with and without the use of masks. 'Not a single droplet' was omitted by the participants wearing a face mask
17th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

How can I help shielded trainees return to work?

Radha Sundaram, consultant in intensive care at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, says, “Most shielding trainees, although physically removed from the workplace, have kept in touch with their peers and departments. “Encourage them to seek an occupational health appointment so that an individual risk assessment can be carried out, along with getting tailored advice on risk mitigation at work. It’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that these risk mitigation measures are put in place and, wherever possible, reasonable adjustments are made to support a return to work. “Welcome them for an informal chat with their supervisor, either face-to-face or virtual, ahead of their first day at work. Confirm that they are fit tested for the personal protective equipment currently available at the hospital. “Arrange shadowing shifts and a phased return. Recognise that along with their health vulnerabilities, these doctors will also have apprehensions around skill retention and team integration. Make sure that they have a mentor who they could meet for informal chats to discuss their experience. It also helps to prepare the team that they are joining so that insensitive remarks about a prolonged break are not made.
17th Aug 2020 - The BMJ

Poor housing linked to high Covid-19 death rate in London borough

Appalling housing conditions and crippling rents in one of the UK’s poorest boroughs helped turn it into a hotspot of Covid-19 deaths, according to a poverty inquiry that examined links between local inequalities and the pandemic. The Brent Poverty Commission, which had been running for two months when Covid-19 struck, said chronic overcrowding and widespread poverty in the north-west London borough had created ideal conditions for the virus to thrive. Latest figures show Brent has the worst death rate of any local authority in England and Wales per 100,000 population, with 490 deaths to the end of July, including 36 deaths alone in one of its most deprived neighbourhoods, Church End. The chair of the commission, Lord Best, said there was a clear link between coronavirus deaths and poverty, inequality and poor housing. “It’s definitely the case that those people who have had Covid-19 and died of it come from the poorest areas, the most deprived estates and parts of the borough. That’s just a fact.”
17th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Germany warns local coronavirus outbreaks are 'mostly connected with celebrations'

Health Minister Jens Spahn has warned stricter event bans could be put in place in Germany amid a rise in coronavirus outbreaks. Spahn attributed rising cases in Germany to holidaymakers returning to the country. But he said celebrations among people, such as weddings, were also causing problems. He urged people to only celebrate within a close family circle. "There are more infections in the country due to returning travellers, but there are also local outbreaks, which are mostly connected with celebrations, said Spahn to German broadcaster ZDF on Sunday night. "This is what we have to keep in mind beyond travel," the politician, who's a member of Angela Merkel's centre Christian Democrats (CDU), said. When asked about a possible new lockdown or stricter measures to contain the pandemic, Spahn said that in his view there was no point in closing retail stores or outlets like hairdressers again. With mandatory face masks and distance rules (1.5 metre from others not in your household) the situation could be managed, he said.
17th Aug 2020 - The Local Germany

Face masks, smaller classes and distanced desks: Europe's back-to-school plan

Across Europe, the start of the new school year was meant to signal a return to normality. Countries such as Italy kept pupils at home from March to the summer holidays, while others such as Denmark allowed schools to reopen for the remainder of the term after the worst of the pandemic's first wave had passed. All tried to reassure parents and children that in-person teaching would restart in the fall. Yet the planned reopening of schools could not come at a worse time: Many European countries, from Spain to Poland, are experiencing an uptick in coronavirus cases. Already the spike has forced some schools to close their doors again, including in the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern where four schools had to partly shut after reopening last week due to coronavirus cases.
16th Aug 2020 - Politico


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Local lockdowns can be successful – here's what we need to make them work

Local lockdowns also have the potential to increase inequalities, especially in disadvantaged areas. Demographic and socioeconomic factors may play a role in localised increases in cases, and we already know that certain ethnicities are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission. Local hot spots will probably be in areas of increased disadvantage, particularly among black, Asian and minority ethnic groups who are more likely to live in densely populated urban areas and are also disproportionately represented in high-risk essential jobs. This was reflected in a statement from Independent Sage, which provides independent advice on how the government should deal with the coronavirus epidemic, on the “predictable and avoidable” situation in Leicester – “a city rich in multiple cultures and traditions, [which] also has high levels of disadvantage and poverty”. To prevent local lockdowns making inequalities worse, they should be implemented for the shortest time possible to minimise disruption to people’s lives. Certain requirements need to be met for this to happen.
13th Aug 2020 - The Conversation UK

Britons will accept local lockdowns if a Covid vaccine can't be found, survey finds

Britons will accept local lockdowns, home schooling and bans on live audiences for the foreseeable future if a coronavirus vaccine is not found, a survey suggests. As parts of the UK grapple with local lockdowns, 87 per cent of people said they would accept these being imposed in the future, and 85 per cent said they would accept their own local area being subject to such restrictions. The wide-ranging research by King's College London, which has been tracking attitudes throughout the pandemic, revealed what people would expect and tolerate in the long-term if a vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 does not transpire.
16th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Huge anti-mask crowd protests against lockdown restrictions and 5G phone networks

Unmasked campaigners came together for a 'freedom gathering' in protest of the coronavirus lockdown. Tens of people congregated in Victoria Square in Birmingham on Saturday to make their views on face masks known. They gathered around a speaker and a sign which read 'Covid-19 is a smokescreen for a bigger agenda', the Birmingham Mail reported. The speaker said: "Everyone can't go to pop concerts until he (Boris Johnson ) says so. "What is it all about? It's about control, exactly. Many of you already know this. "So many people are walking around with masks on. What about the masks issue? Do masks protect you? Look at the scientific studies.
15th Aug 2020 - Mirror Online


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WHO urges the public to avoid routine dental work amid the coronavirus pandemic

With the cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) skyrocketing globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) is now warning the public to avoid routine dental procedures to reduce the risk of infection. In a new interim guidance released by the World Health Organization (WHO), the health agency advises that routine non-essential oral health care, which includes dental check-ups, oral prophylaxis, and preventive care, should be delayed until there has been sufficient reduction in SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates from community transmission to cluster cases.
13th Aug 2020 - News Medical

Finland recommends use of facemasks on public transport

Finland recommended the use of face masks in public for the first time on Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases rises. Prime Minister Sanna Marin said masks should be worn in situations where social distancing is not possible, such as on public transport. People aged 15 or over who will stay for more than 15 minutes in crowded places should wear them, excluding regions where no new cases have been found in two weeks, the public health authority also recommended. Prior to Thursday, Finland had not officially backed the use of masks. Health authorities reported 41 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a daily record since the end of May, bringing the total to 7,683 since the beginning of the pandemic. A total of 333 people have died.
13th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

CDC warns US faces 'worst fall' ever if Americans ignore COVID-19 guidelines

A top CDC official has warned that the US must brace for the “worst fall” ever in the history of public health disasters if Americans don’t follow coronavirus guidelines. “For your country right now and for the war that we’re in against COVID, I’m asking you to do four simple things: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and be smart about crowds,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told WebMD. “I’m not asking some of America to do it. We all gotta do it.” If people fail to follow those tips, next season could be “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had,” he said.
13th Aug 2020 - New York Post

South Korea installs anti-virus bus shelters with temperature sensors and UV lamps

South Korea has opened a high-tech new front in the battle against coronavirus, fortifying bus shelters in the capital with temperature-checking doors and ultraviolet disinfection lamps. To enter, passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal-imaging camera, and the door will slide open only if their temperature is below 37.5C. A separate camera is installed lower down to test children. Inside the glass-walled booths – which cost about 100m won ($84,000) each – the air-conditioning systems have ultraviolet lamps installed to kill viruses at the same time as cooling the air. Free wifi is also included.
13th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

20 offices turned into 2,000 individual pods for post-Covid working

Welcome to cube city. Xu Weiping, a Chinese multimillionaire, has a vision for the future of office work in the post-Covid-19 pandemic world: thousands of office pods where each person works in their own self-contained 3m x 3m cube. Xu reckons the coronavirus pandemic will have such a fundamental impact on the way people work that he is converting 20 newly constructed office buildings in east London into 2,000 of the individual cube offices. If the cubes, which feature a kettle, fridge, microwave, videoscreen and fold-down bed as well as a chair and desk, prove popular Xu plans to convert all of his £1.7bn 35-acre regeneration project in east London into more than 10,000 of the individual cubes.
13th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Local lockdowns can be successful—here's what we need to make them work

Since then, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases following the lowest recorded estimate in June, as well as spikes in transmission in certain areas. In response, rather than locking down the whole country again, the government has brought in local lockdowns in affected areas.
13th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

COVID panel expert says local lockdowns may be needed - English

Agostino Miozzo, the coordinator of the CTS panel of experts advising the government on the coronavirus emergency, on Thursday warned that local lockdowns "may become inevitable if the situation gets out of hand". Italy has seen an increase in COVID-19 contagion in recent weeks, with the number of new cases registered each day going from around 200-300 to 400-500. Miozzo said the danger exists because "there is always a party to dance at, a barbecue to have or a funeral to hold". "400 cases a day are neither many nor few," he added. "It tells us that the virus is here and it is present all over the country. "We still have a manageable situation. But it is a precarious situation and the quantum leap can be very fast and that is the real risk". He also said that Italy's night clubs and discos "must stay closed". "Mass gatherings are devastating, impossible to manage" he said. Miozzo also stressed, on the other hand, that another national lockdown was "decidedly improbable".
13th Aug 2020 - Agenzia ANSA

New powers to tackle coronavirus mask refusers as England’s lockdown eases

Fines for repeatedly refusing to wear a mask could soar to £3,200 and organisers of illegal raves could face a £10,000 penalty, Boris Johnson announced ahead of further easing of England’s lockdown. At present, people who refuse to wear a face covering where it is required face a £100 fine, which can be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days. Under the new measures, that penalty will double for subsequent offences, up to a maximum of £3,200.
13th Aug 2020 - YAHOO!

Covid-19: New trial for England's revamped NHS contact-tracing app

England’s new look NHS contact-tracing app is set to begin public trials today, after months of setbacks. The app will be based on Apple and Google’s decentralised model. NHSX has been working with the tech giants to develop a new version of the app after abandoning its original model in June. Both versions of the app used Bluetooth to track time and distance between smartphone devices, but Apple and Google’s version was hailed as more privacy-centric as it only sends alerts between devices when Covid-19 is detected, rather than large quantities of data being stored on a central database. The trial, beginning on August 13, will again involve the Isle of Wight as well as NHS volunteer respondents in the UK. Then from next week, residents in the London borough of Newham will start trialing the app.
13th Aug 2020 - Digital Health

Coronavirus: Vaping teens and young adults up to seven times more likely to contract COVID-19, study finds

Teenagers and young adults who vape may be up to seven times more likely to catch coronavirus, a study has found. Researchers, who surveyed 4,351 Americans aged 13-24 years in May, found those who had used both e-cigarettes and cigarettes were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Those who had used both cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days were 4.7 times more likely to experience symptoms of the illness compared with those who never smoked or vaped. Among people tested for coronavirus, those who used just e-cigarettes were five times more likely to test positive for the disease.
13th Aug 2020 - Sky News

People should not fear spread of COVID-19 in food, packaging: WHO

The World Health Organization said on Thursday it saw no evidence of coronavirus being spread by food or packaging and urged people not to be afraid of the virus entering the food chain. Two cities in China said they had found traces of the coronavirus in imported frozen chicken wings from Brazil and on outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp, raising fears that contaminated food shipments might cause a new outbreak. “People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food,” WHO head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan told a briefing in Geneva. “There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus. And people should feel comfortable and safe.” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said China had tested hundreds of thousands of packages and “found very, very few, less than 10” proving positive for the virus.
13th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Spain's Canary Islands curb smoking amid COVID-19 worries

The Canary Islands became Spain’s second region to all but ban smoking in the streets on Thursday as part of measures to stop a resurgence of coronavirus infections, and other regions considered a similar ban. Smoking will be banned when people cannot maintain a 2-metre (6.5-foot) distance between each other on the islands, which are popular with tourists. Authorities also imposed new restrictions including the use of masks in public at all times, a limit of 10 people in gatherings and restrictions on nightclub capacity. “The last few days point to an increase in positive cases ... We will increase checks to make sure people follow the rules because otherwise it will be our health and economy paying the price,” regional leader Angel Victor Torres said.
13th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


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'Hundreds dead' because of Covid-19 misinformation

At least 800 people died around the world because of coronavirus-related misinformation in the first three months of this year, researchers say. A study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene says about 5,800 people were admitted to hospital as a result of false information on social media. Many died from drinking methanol or alcohol-based cleaning products. They wrongly believed the products to be a cure for the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said that the "infodemic" surrounding Covid-19 spread just as quickly as the virus itself, with conspiracy theories, rumours and cultural stigma all contributing to deaths and injuries.
12th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Measure the risk of airborne COVID-19 in your office, classroom, or bus ride

Amid the pandemic, once normal activities are now peppered with questions and concerns. Can kids go back to crowded schools? Is it safe to eat dinner with friends? Should we worry about going for a run? A recent modelling effort may help provide some clues. Led by Jose-Luis Jimenez at the University of Colorado Boulder, the charts below estimate the riskiness of different activities based on one potential route of coronavirus spread: itty-bitty particles known as aerosols. Coughing, singing, talking, or even breathing sends spittle flying in a range of sizes. The closer you are to the spewer, the greater the chance of exposure to large, virus-laden droplets that can be inhaled or land in your eyes. But many scientists have also grown concerned about the potential risks of aerosols—the smallest of these particles—which may float across rooms and cause infections. It’s a worry that's greatest where ventilation is poor and airborne particulates could build. While the World Health Organisation recently acknowledged that aerosol transmission cannot be ruled out for some situations, they emphasised more research is needed to conclusively demonstrate its role in the spread of the virus.
12th Aug 2020 - National Geographic UK

Vaping linked to risk of COVID-19 in teens, young adults

Vaping may be associated with a five to seven times increased risk of COVID-19 among U.S. teenagers and young adults, a study published on Tuesday suggests. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine analyzed nationally representative survey data collected in May from 4,351 participants aged 13–24 years. The findings were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. “Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” study leader Shivani Mathur Gaiha said in a press statement. Participants were asked if they had ever used vaping devices or combustible cigarettes, whether they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days, and if they had experienced COVID-19 symptoms, been tested for COVID-19 or been diagnosed with the infectious disease.
12th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Aiding staff wellbeing and resilience in the coronavirus pandemic

Wellbeing, knowledge and effective management are vital for healthcare staff, particularly at times of extreme stress, as with the coronavirus pandemic. This article reports on a wellbeing and resilience session, delivered by four mental health nurses to over 250 staff who were redeployed or recruited during the crisis. It examines the personal and professional impact of Covid-19 on staff, and considers the need for further education and ongoing support to safeguard the wellbeing of all healthcare staff.
12th Aug 2020 - Nursing Times

Bus stop newest front in South Korea's Covid-19 battle

South Korea has opened a high-tech new front in the battle against coronavirus, fortifying bus shelters with temperature-checking doors and ultraviolet disinfection lamps. Ten advanced facilities have been installed in a northeastern district of Seoul, offering protection from monsoon rains, summer heat, and the novel coronavirus. To enter, passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal-imaging camera, and the door will only slide open if their temperature is below 37.5C. A separate camera is installed lower down to test children.
12th Aug 2020 - RTE.ie

Why we fear the reopening of schools will create a second wave of Covid-19 infections

We also now have a clearer idea of how Covid-19 affects young people. The first major study to address this – ­involving 82 paediatric centres in 25 European countries, and published in the Lancet in late June – found that more than half with proven Covid-19 display standard cold symptoms. Only a quarter have a cough, and at least a third have no fever at all. This study involved only the sickest children, most of whom had been referred to ­hospital. The picture among paediatric cases in the wider community is even more nebulous.
12th Aug 2020 - New Statesman

New Zealand considers freight as possible source of new coronavirus cluster

The discovery of four infected family members in Auckland led Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to swiftly reimpose tight restrictions in the city and social distancing measures across the entire country. The source of the outbreak has baffled health officials, who said they were confident there was no local transmission of the virus in New Zealand for 102 days. "We are working hard to put together pieces of the puzzle on how this family got infected," said Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. Investigations were zeroing in on the potential the virus was imported by freight. Bloomfield said surface testing was underway at an Auckland cool store where a man from the infected family worked. "We know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time," Bloomfield said during a televised media conference. The New Zealand unit of Atlanta, U.S.-based, Americold Realty Trust, a refrigerated storage specialist with operations in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia as well as New Zealand, identified itself as the owner of the cool store.
12th Aug 2020 - Yahoo News UK

Parties lead Germany to biggest spike in coronavirus cases in three months

Germany today reported its largest daily spike in new cases of coronavirus in more than three months, as authorities blamed people returning from holiday and boozy parties across the country. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 1,226 to 218,519 today, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) showed — marking the biggest daily increase since 9 May. However the number of German coronavirus deaths edged up by six, remaining low at a total of 9,207.
12th Aug 2020 - City A.M.

All rest homes going into level 4 lockdown for three days

Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace told Nine to Noon no visits from family would be allowed. "We have decided that we will go into full lockdown. So every rest home in New Zealand will go into full lockdown immediately, we will be in that situation until midnight on Friday and then the situation will be reassessed at that point," he told Nine to Noon. Full lockdown meant rest homes would be operating under level 4 restrictions, he said. "It means there will be no visits, no family visits to their loved ones in rest homes and all the guidance and all the precautions that applied when we were at level 4 will apply for the next three days."
12th Aug 2020 - RNZ

England's revamped contact-tracing app to begin public trials on Aug 13

A revamped coronavirus contact-tracing app for England will begin its public trials on Thursday (Aug 13), BBC News reported on Wednesday. The software will be modelled after Apple and Google's privacy-centric method of one smartphone detecting another, the BBC said. Engineers were still trying to resolve issues with the Bluetooth-based tech wrongly flagging people as being within 2 metres of each other. The app will let people scan barcode-like QR codes to log venue visits, as well as implementing Apple and Google's method of detecting other smartphones, the BBC reported. The test-and-trace programme is key to reopening the economy but has been dogged by problems. A smartphone app developed by the National Health Service (NHS) was initially expected to be rolled out in May but did not materialise. In June, the government pivoted away from a homegrown model for the app to use the Apple and Google system.
12th Aug 2020 - The Straits Times


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Coronavirus: Local Covid-19 tracing 'needs more resources'

Joint working between local and national teams on coronavirus testing and contact tracing should be properly funded, says a public health official. Deputy director of public health for Luton Lucy Hubber said more resources should be allocated to councils to cover the costs of finding people. It comes after the government said it will provide councils with with "ring-fenced teams" of the contact tracers. Initial trials of joint working has improved the success of the system.
10th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Did London's lockdown work? Capital has the same level of coronavirus antibodies as Stockholm

Official data shows around one in six people in both cities have caught the virus Two British experts who compiled research said UK's measures came too late UK shut down economy on March 24 while Sweden stayed open throughout
12th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

WHO advises dentists to delay carrying out 'routine, non-essential dental work' over Covid-19 fears

The World Health Organisation has said routine, non-essential dental work should be delayed until Covid-19 transmission rates drop sufficiently, cautioning against procedures that produce aerosol spray from patients’ mouths. The WHO said check-ups, dental cleanings and preventive care could be postponed, as it released guidance for dentists on how to minimise the risk of transmission during the coronavirus pandemic.
11th Aug 2020 - TheJournal.ie

Coronavirus infections stabilise in Australia's virus epicentre

Australia’s second-most populous state reported only a small rise in new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, boosting hopes that case numbers are stabilising after a second wave forced authorities to put the city of Melbourne back into lockdown. Victoria state, which currently accounts for nearly all of Australia’s new cases, detected 331 COVID-19 infections and 19 deaths in the past 24 hours, up from 322 infections and the same number of fatalities a day earlier, health officials said. Daily infections in Victoria peaked at 725 on Aug. 5 and have been trending lower in recent days, following the imposition of a hard lockdown in Melbourne on July 19. While the lockdown has caused significant economic harm, authorities said the restrictions that will run until September are bearing fruit. “We continue to see numbers coming down. Exactly how long that takes and to what the lowest number is we can get to, only time will tell,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
11th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Why a second wave of coronavirus cases in Greece has prompted new restrictions

Greece has formally entered a second wave, following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. The country had become a top destination for British holidaymakers following the changes to quarantine guidelines for people visiting Spain, who now have to isolate for two weeks on their return to the UK. But the Greek government has now imposed new restrictions and curfews on bars and restaurants coming into effect on Tuesday across major tourist areas, including the islands, while holidaymakers from certain countries will now need proof of a negative Covid-19 test before entering.
11th Aug 2020 - iNews


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How Did New Zealand Control COVID-19?

New Zealand, a modern small island nation, has become an emblematic champion of proper prevention and response to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Leading into this weekend, the country of approximately 5 million has just 2 dozen active COVID-19 cases—a full month after having reported absolutely none, on the backbone of strict initial travel policies, science-based government action, and strategies responsive to testing limitations. What else went into New Zealand’s pandemic response—and what could serve as guidance for other countries?
10th Aug 2020 - Contagionlive.com

Reopening after COVID-19 lockdown and impact on disease

In the absence of any effective vaccine or antiviral preventive or therapeutic drug, the only possible response to an extraordinarily contagious and unknown disease was in the form of multiple non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). China implemented what some describe as a ‘Draconian’ lockdown, with total closure of public transport, and all residents ordered to stay at home. Similar measures restricting travel, quarantining people with suspected or confirmed disease, and tracing contacts, were put in place in other Asia countries, and a month later, in Europe. The latter was also characterized by school and non-essential closures, limits on the number of people who could gather, bans on international travel, and shelter-in-place mandates. The response in the US was quite different in many ways. For one thing, both state and local authorities decided on the measures to be taken. Overall, in most affected areas, stay-at-home orders were passed by March 21, 2020. In the early part of the pandemic, there was a significant reduction in the number of people moving around places like retail, grocery, workplace locations, pharmacies, and parks. Research focused on this time showed that combinations of NPIs had significant success in lowering viral transmission. The greatest impact was observed with an intensive reduction in contacts, such as lockdowns.
10th Aug 2020 - News-Medical.Net

Coronavirus: Which face covering works best? Scientists test 14 masks - and find one actually increases risk of infection

Scientists have tested 14 different types of face-covering and found that one of them actually increases the risk of coronavirus infection. Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina tested coverings ranging from the kind worn by healthcare professionals to neck fleeces and knitted masks. The study's authors compared the dispersal of droplets from a participant's breath while they were wearing one of the coverings to the results of a control trial where their mouth was fully exposed.
10th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Coronavirus: Contact tracers to be reduced by 6,000 in England

The NHS test and trace system in England is cutting 6,000 staff by the end of August, the government has announced. The remaining contact tracers will work alongside local public health teams to reach more infected people and their contacts in communities. It comes after criticism that the national system was not tapping into local knowledge. The approach has been used in virus hotspots like Blackburn and Luton. And it's now being offered to all councils that are responsible for public health in their area. Test and trace is staffed by NHS clinicians and people who were trained to become contact tracers during the pandemic. NHS staff who offer advice to people who have tested positive for coronavirus will not be laid off.
10th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Europe's biggest countries are seeing Covid surges -- but not this one

A horrifying moment in the Covid-19 pandemic hit Italy on March 27, 2020, when the civil protection authorities announced that 969 people had died in just 24 hours. In the weeks before that, images of coffins stacked up in church parlors and being driven down the streets of the northern Italian town of Bergamo in a caravan of military trucks poured into the homes of Italians, by then locked down for nearly three weeks. Now, just four months later, life in Italy, the country Vice President Mike Pence once said "no one wanted to be like," is nearly back to normal, despite occasional spikes in cases that have been attributed to migrants arriving in the country or living in close quarters.
10th Aug 2020 - CNN

‘Door knocks’ a possibility for Covid-19 contacts as 6,000 staff cut

People who have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases may get a knock on their door if tracers are unable to reach them over the phone. Health officials have announced plans to strengthen regional test and trace powers in England, while 6,000 national contract tracers will be cut in a fortnight. In pilot schemes, local authorities have been able to visit people at home where national contact tracers have been unable to reach them. The changes come after criticism that the national system was not tapping into local knowledge. Labour said the new plans showed that the system was nowhere near “world-beating” as the Government claims.
10th Aug 2020 - Belfast Telegraph


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Coronavirus: Face masks reduce severity of symptoms in wearer, scientists find

Earlier this year, researchers in China used hamsters to test the theory, The New York Times reported. They housed coronavirus-infected and healthy animals in adjoining cages, some of which were separated by partitions made of surgical masks. Many of the healthy hamsters behind the partitions were not infected. And those animals that did get the virus became less sick than their “maskless” neighbours. The experts say their findings suggest masks are even more important than previously thought, as they both reduce the virual dose – the amount hitting the face – and the viral load, the amount of infection in the body.
10th Aug 2020 - The Independent

No Jab No Play comes into effect today in South Australia: What does this mean for your kids?

The South Australian Government's No Jab No Play laws come into effect today, with children up to the age of six who have not been fully immunised now unable to attend early childcare services. The law attempts to ensure children and the people they encounter are protected against preventable diseases. "Families should be able to send their child to an early childhood service, confident that it's as safe as it can be," Health Minister Stephen Wade said. In Australia, the vaccination schedule starts from the time a child is born and continues until they are four.
7th Aug 2020 - ABC News

Coronavirus: Only half of Britons say they would get a vaccine, poll reveals

Just over half of the UK would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine, with "damaging misperceptions" affecting potential uptake, a poll has revealed. Only 53% of Britons would be certain or very likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19, researchers at King's College London (KCL) and Ipsos Mori found. One in six (16%) said they would definitely not get a vaccine or it would be very unlikely, the poll of 2,237 people between 16 and 75 showed. The study found that people were more likely to reject the vaccine because of their attitudes and beliefs about science and authority than reasons related to coronavirus itself.
8th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Half of people in direct provision ‘unable’ to social distance

Half of people living in direct provision have been unable to social distance from other residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, while more than 40 per cent continue to share a room with a non-family member, according to new research seen by The Irish Times. The Irish Refugee Council’s (IRC) Powerless report, which examines the experiences of direct provision residents during the pandemic, says asylum seekers are suffering “fear and trepidation” because of their “inability to control” their health and safety during the pandemic. The call to end direct provision has become “more compelling than ever” in the context of the pandemic, the council says. The new Government has committed to ending the system.
8th Aug 2020 - The Irish Times

Coronavirus: Face covering use expanded in England and Scotland

Face coverings have become mandatory in more indoor settings in England and Scotland following a recent spike in coronavirus cases. Places where coverings must now be worn in both countries include museums, places of worship and aquariums. Other new settings in England include cinemas and funeral homes, and in Scotland, banks and beauty salons. Coverings will also become compulsory in all public enclosed spaces in Northern Ireland from Monday.
8th Aug 2020 - BBC News

An Urban Planner’s Trick to Making Bike-able Cities

When the citizens of Barcelona returned to the streets in mid-May after a 2-month lockdown, they discovered a changed city. Not only was it overgrown with plants and wildlife, but the streets had been transformed by 13 miles of bright yellow bike lanes painted over the old car lanes. Adria Gomila, the chief of mobility services in Barcelona, is leading the metamorphosis. His team of 30 has turned Spain’s second-largest city into one of the most bike-friendly metropolises in southern Europe. The pandemic, though a tragedy, has also turned into an opportunity.
8th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 infection rates soar in Italy

The number of daily new coronavirus infections in Italy jumped 38% higher Friday, with 552 confirmed cases registered compared to the previous day, the highest daily new caseload since late May. Two weeks ago, Italy had been registering roughly 200 new cases a day. The northeastern region of Veneto, which performed nearly 16,500 swab tests in a day, registered roughly a third of those new cases. Veneto Governor Luca Zaia said the new infections were found in residents who recently returned home from Spain, Peru, Malta, Croatia and Greece. “Vacations are a risk,” he said in his daily briefing. “Everyone must decide where they want to go on vacation, but it’s also true, that by us, for a couple of weeks now, we’re seeing a concentration of patients who were infected on vacation.″ Northern Italy is where Italy’s outbreak began in February, and which registered the highest number of cases and deaths throughout the pandemic.
8th Aug 2020 - EU Today

A city divided: COVID-19 finds a weakness in Melbourne's social fault lines

New analysis by The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald that matches geography with demography and the disease burden shows clearly that COVID-19 is not affecting us all the same. Melbourne is a city divided. Of its five most disadvantaged municipalities, four of them have the most active COVID-19 cases. The fifth disadvantaged area is Dandenong, where the Spotless laundry is. In Brimbank, in Melbourne's west the number of active cases is in excess of 800 - that's more than 10 times the level of Boroondara in the leafy inner east. These five areas are also where the most insecure work is. It is minimum wage workers, often migrants, and often in contingent or casual jobs who are suffering unduly from the disease.
8th Aug 2020 - The Age

UK 'heading back into lockdown next month', says government's ex-chief scientist

Britain could be heading for full lockdown again by the end of the month. And the PM must act NOW to prevent it, a former government chief scientific adviser warns today. Sir David King said: “We need a proper test and trace system by September. Otherwise full school opening will put us right back.” Sir David says we are “nowhere near” the safe reopening of schools. He is urging Boris Johnson to “get it right” in August – or face a second wave of coronavirus infections. And he blasted the Government’s track and trace policy as “disastrous”.
8th Aug 2020 - Mirror Online


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Leeds researchers find Covid-19 patients can suffer with PTSD months after leaving hospital

Leeds researchers have found that some Covid-19 patients suffer with breathlessness, fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for months after they leave hospital. Researchers from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust assessed 100 people who are recovering from the virus after being treated in hospital and identified several longer-term symptoms. Patients were found to have suffered from fatigue, which was the most common symptom, as well as breathlessness and issues with concentration and memory. The researchers also found that almost half of the Covid-19 survivors who had been in intensive care had some of the symptoms of PTSD. More than two thirds (68.8 percent) of the intensive care patients and just under half (45.6 percent) of the people who were treated in other hospital wards told researchers their overall quality of life had deteriorated.
6th Aug 2020 - Leeds Live

Coronavirus: England's contact-tracing app readies for launch

A second attempt at a Covid-19 contact-tracing app for England will soon be tested by members of the public. Officials hope to confirm the date for the limited roll-out within a few days. It could be as soon as next week. The app will let people scan barcode-like QR codes to log venue visits, as well as implementing Apple and Google's method of detecting other smartphones. But efforts are still ongoing to deliver medical test results within the product. Users will get alerts if others they have recently been close to declare that they have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The software will provide information about the prevalence of the disease in the local area to encourage people to be more cautious if levels rise.
6th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Denmark Drops Plan to Lift Curbs on Public Gatherings as Infections Spike

Denmark will not raise a limit on public gatherings, originally planned for this month, after seeing a spike in COVID-19 infections, the Danish health ministry said late on Thursday. As part of the Denmark's gradual reopening following a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the government had planned to raise the limit on public gatherings to 200 people on August 8, up from the current limit of 100 people. "It is crucial that we maintain the good position Denmark is in, where we have the epidemic under control," health minister Magnus Heunicke said.
7th Aug 2020 - The New York Times

Northern Ireland launches UKs first Covid-19 contact-tracing app

Northern Ireland has released its contact-tracing app – the first country in the UK to roll-out the technology. The app, StopCOVID NI, uses Bluetooth technology to notify users if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. Those who test positive will be sent a code by SMS, which can then be put into the app. Users will then be asked to share the random IDs their phone has been swapping with other app users over the last 14 days. Once a user agrees, these ‘diagnosis keys’ will allow the app to tell those people that they have been exposed to Covid-19. Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann urged the public to download the app, which uses the exposure notification APIs developed by Apple and Google. “Deploying this world leading technology can prove a major factor in helping our efforts to curb Covid-19 and prevent its spread. Its potential to be a game changer will, however, be totally dependent on the support of the Northern Ireland public,” he said.
6th Aug 2020 - Digital Health

Brussels set to make face masks compulsory in public places

The local Brussels government is preparing to force people to wear face masks in public spaces and in private places accessible by the public, should the recent surge in coronavirus infections continue. According to Rudi Vervoor, the minister-president of the Brussels region, the order will be imposed as soon as the daily number of cases rises above 50 in every 100,000
6th Aug 2020 - City A.M.

Germany fights virus uptick with mandatory testing for travellers

Germany announced mandatory tests for travellers returning from high-risk regions after new coronavirus cases breached the 1,000-a-day threshold for the first time since May, fuelling fears of a return to an economically disruptive lockdown. Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday free compulsory testing would be in force from Saturday after the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health agency, reported 1,045 new cases in a single day. Part of the increase was due to more tests taking place, he said, but the impact of holidaymakers returning to Germany and of flagging social distancing discipline was also significant. Germany classifies almost all the world outside the European Union as high risk, as well as some regions within the bloc, including Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre in Spain, and Belgium’s Antwerp province. The compulsory tests mean travellers will not have to quarantine for two weeks. Anyone who refuses to take the test could face a fine of up to 25,000 euros (22,485 pounds).
6th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Dutch PM urges tourists to avoid busy parts of Amsterdam

The Netherlands’ Prime Minister on Thursday called on tourists to avoid busy parts of Amsterdam, following a sharp acceleration in the number of coronavirus cases in the Netherlands. Prime Minister Mark Rutte cut short his summer vacation after the National Institute for Health (RIVM) reported 601 new cases on Thursday, from 426 a day earlier, following weeks of gradual increases. “Very specifically for the city of Amsterdam, I say to tourists foreign and domestic, and partly on behalf of the mayor: avoid the busy parts of the city,” Rutte told reporters in The Hague. Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema on Wednesday began mandating masks in areas including the central Red Light prostitution district, which is a magnet for foreign tourists.
6th Aug 2020 - Reuters


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A needle-prick is a small price to pay to suppress Covid-19

Few relish a jab in the arm with a needle. If the syringe prevented Covid-19, then many might think it a pain worth suffering — but by no means all. Tens of thousands of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Berlin over the weekend, some to voice their discontent at the possibility of being coerced by the state into getting vaccinated. The situation is far from unique to Germany. In Italy, where the broader anti-vaccination movement enjoys widespread support, both main anti-establishment parties campaigned last year against compulsory routine vaccinations for children. In the US, a fifth of people say they would never submit to inoculation against coronavirus; another third remain unsure. A recent online survey of UK residents showed a quarter would decline a vaccine if the government made it “available tomorrow”.
5th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

NYC Sets Up Traveler-Registration Checkpoints to Enforce Quarantine Orders

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that checkpoints will be set at entry points to the city, in order to enforce a quarantine order for people coming from states with high rates of Covid-19
5th Aug 2020 - Wall Street Journal

More French cities make masks mandatory amid public support

Masks may become obligatory in certain public places in Paris as mayor Anne Hidalgo pushes for the measure, as other cities such as Toulouse introduce it, and the public is largely in favour of the move. Ms Hidalgo has this week (Tuesday August 4) submitted a proposal to make masks mandatory in certain public areas of Paris, to head of the capital’s police, Didier Lallement. The measure, if it is introduced, is likely to apply first to busy shopping streets, public parks and gardens, the banks of the River Seine, and covered markets. Paris deputy mayor in charge of health, Anne Souyris, said: “Wearing a mask is unpleasant, especially when it is hot, but it is a really necessary move now that the epidemic is restarting. “We will therefore demand that it becomes obligatory in exterior areas where there are a lot of people, and where respecting the distance of a metre between people is difficult.” She said that currently, “90% of people in the streets do not have [a mask]” and that there is much variation between neighbourhoods.
5th Aug 2020 - The Connexion

Nations tighten mask rules, lockdowns as Covid-19 deaths approach 700,000

France and the Netherlands are gearing up for stricter mask-wearing rules to fight the coronavirus as the global death toll from the pandemic neared 700,000. Paris, Toulouse and other cities announced that the wearing of masks would be compulsory in particularly busy streets and squares. People already have to wear them inside most private businesses and all public buildings. A scientific committee advising the French government warned that the country could lose control of its spread "at any time." In the Netherlands, the same mask-wearing measure will be applied in Rotterdam and the famous red-light district of Amsterdam from Wednesday.
5th Aug 2020 - FRANCE 24 English

Nations tighten mask rules, lockdowns as Covid-19 deaths approach 700,000

France and the Netherlands are gearing up for stricter mask-wearing rules to fight the coronavirus as the global death toll from the pandemic neared 700,000. Paris, Toulouse and other cities announced that the wearing of masks would be compulsory in particularly busy streets and squares. People already have to wear them inside most private businesses and all public buildings. A scientific committee advising the French government warned that the country could lose control of its spread "at any time." In the Netherlands, the same mask-wearing measure will be applied in Rotterdam and the famous red-light district of Amsterdam from Wednesday. And Ireland postponed the reopening of pubs and other nightspots on the advice of scientists, concerned about rising infections.
5th Aug 2020 - Yahoo News UK

Covid testing and contact tracing key for safely reopening schools, two new studies suggest

Researchers in Britain found that schools could reopen safely so long as enough contact tracing is in place. Contact tracing strategies involve enough testing to find cases, isolating those people, then tracking down and quarantining their contacts. And a team in Australia found that even though schools remained open in New South Wales between late January and early April, children and teachers did not contribute significantly to the spread of Covid-19 — because good contact tracing and control strategies were in place. Both studies, published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health on Monday, aim to help inform global discussions around reopening schools.
4th Aug 2020 - CNN Philippines

Determining the optimal strategy for reopening schools, the impact of test and trace interventions, and the risk of occurrence of a second COVID-19 epidemic wave in the UK: a modelling study

As lockdown measures to slow the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection begin to ease in the UK, it is important to assess the impact of any changes in policy, including school reopening and broader relaxation of physical distancing measures. We aimed to use an individual-based model to predict the impact of two possible strategies for reopening schools to all students in the UK from September, 2020, in combination with different assumptions about relaxation of physical distancing measures and the scale-up of testing.
5th Aug 2020 - The Lancet

Coronavirus UK: Preston set to be next city in local lockdown

The infection rate in the Lancashire city has more than doubled in seven days. More than 34 people per 100,000 were diagnosed with Covid-19 last week Lancashire director of public health said matter of days before lockdown comes
5th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

'Uncertainty' about origin of outbreak and 'rapidly accelerating' transmission forced Aberdeen lockdown decision

Nicola Sturgeon has said the uncertainty over the origin of the outbreak of Covid-19 in Aberdeen and the ongoing “rapid transmission” of the virus created a tipping point for the Scottish Government to reimpose lockdown restrictions in the city. The First Minister, speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing with chief medical officer Gregor Smith, announced those living in Aberdeen will face tougher restrictions from today due to the outbreak which was first reported last week.
5th Aug 2020 - The Scotsman


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Council in town with England's highest coronavirus rate set up their OWN contact tracing teams

Reopening schools could result in another crisis that could yield a second wave 2-2.3 times the size of the first. But it could be avoided if testing reaches 75% of cases and NHS contact tracing system reaches 68% of public. However, scientists say current system is 'not good enough' and a fraction of symptomatic cases are tested The authors said without improvements in testing it will be 'absolutely essential' to introduce other measures
4th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Radical shift in COVID-19 testing needed to reopen schools and businesses, researchers say

“America faces an impending disaster,” says Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. Testing, he says, needs to focus on “massively increasing availability of fast, inexpensive screening tests to identify asymptomatic Americans who carry the virus. Today, we are conducting too few of these types of tests.” Rebecca Smith, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), agrees. To stop outbreaks from overwhelming communities, she says, “we need fast, frequent testing,” which could mean faster versions of existing RNA tests or new kinds of tests aimed at detecting viral proteins. But researchers say the federal government will need to provide major financial backing for the push.
4th Aug 2020 - Science Magazine

Brits were less likely than French or Italians to follow lockdown guidelines

Only 71% of Brits, Americans and other English speakers around the globe followed guidelines set by their governments during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to a new study from Durham University Business School. This was drastically lower than French and Italians – where 89% of respondents followed guidelines. The research was conducted at the end of April 2020, the height of the global pandemic, when many countries were at the strictest stage of their lockdowns. Sascha Kraus, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School, Andrés Davila, Professor at ESCE Paris, and an international team of academics research the topic to understand people’s views towards Covid-19 voluntary compliance behaviours, and who was most likely to follow these. The researchers also found that only 70% of native English speakers were happy to take preventative steps such as wearing a mask indoors, social distancing, avoiding crowds, staying at home and washing their hands frequently.
4th Aug 2020 - PharmiWeb.com

We're thinking about Covid-19 the wrong way. It's not a 'wave' – it's a wildfire

We have no previous experience with a worldwide coronavirus pandemic, so when Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, began spreading, public health experts leaned on our experiences with influenza pandemics to inform their predictions. These pandemics are often described in terms of “waves” and “troughs”. We have now seen enough to replace the ocean analogy with a better one: wildfire.
4th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 decision-making 'shrouded in secrecy' – top scientist

Sir Paul Nurse, the director of the Francis Crick Institute, said the Government should “treat the public as adults” in its communications over Covid-19. He told the BBC’s Today programme: “I think we need greater openness in the decision-making. “It sometimes seems somewhat shrouded in secrecy. “And not only that, but better communication of what’s happening. “Treat the public as adults.”
4th Aug 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

UK coronavirus cases experience highest daily increase since June

The number of new coronavirus cases in the UK has risen by 938 across 24 hours – the highest daily increase in confirmed infections since late June, the government has confirmed. The latest figures from the department of health and social care (DHSC) brought the total number of cases since the beginning of the UK’s outbreak to 305,623. The daily increase in cases is the highest confirmed figure since 26 June, part of a gradual upward trend in infections since the bulk of lockdown measures were eased in early July.
4th Aug 2020 - The Independent

Testing key to prevent Covid-19 lockdowns across region, say councils

After new lockdown rules were brought into play in large parts of northern England, council leaders and public health bosses have said widespread testing is now more important than ever to reduce the prospect of similar action in the region. Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils are urging people who have Covid-19 symptoms or who have come into contact with anyone who has tested positive to get tested. The seven local authorities also reiterated the importance of businesses contacting Public Health England as a case is identified – either confirmed or suspected – in a staff or customer.
4th Aug 2020 - Express & Star

Teachers returned to a Georgia school district last week. 260 employees have already gone home to quarantine.

On Wednesday, teachers in Georgia’s largest school district returned to elementary, middle and high school campuses to start in-person planning for the fall semester. By the next day, 260 district employees had been barred from entering their schools, either because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had been directly exposed to someone who had. Sloan Roach, spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, which serves more than 180,000 students, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that most of the cases were tied to community spread, rather than being spread at the schools. Some of the employees who reported exposure to the virus had not come to work yet, Roach added.
4th Aug 2020 - The Washington Post

Singapore’s quick response to coronavirus saved thousands of lives. There’s no excuse for the UK’s failure

In February I travelled to Singapore to visit an old university friend. So it was chance that I found myself in the safest part of the world, where they knew what to do and acted with great speed to aggressively suppress the lethal virus
4th Aug 2020 - The Independent

China Says It Can Boost Hong Kong Virus Testing by 20 Times

China aims to boost Hong Kong’s coronavirus testing capacity to 20 times its current ability, said the leader of a support team sent from Guangdong province to aid the city in its worst outbreak ever. The Chinese testing team of about 60 people will work with the Hong Kong government and three mainland Chinese testing companies to process 100,000 to 200,000 samples every day, said Yu Dewen in a state media video interview released on Monday. “Our main mission is to help the Hong Kong government conduct testing on a large scale for the population,” said Yu, who is an official with Guangdong’s health commission. Yu also led the Guangdong delegation earlier sent to help Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus first emerged
4th Aug 2020 - MSN.com


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Testing, Tracking Can Keep Students’ Virus Risk Low, Studies Say

Only 1.2% of people caught the virus after they were in contact with 27 children or teachers who were infectious, according to a study of schools and nurseries in New South Wales, Australia, where track, trace and isolation measures were used. Further analysis of seven sites found the disease was less likely to spread from child to child than from staff to staff, researchers said Monday in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. Concerns over resurgent infections have grown as countries struggle to re-open schools and childcare centers full-time. Federal data show that children account for more of total infections than previously thought in some U.S. states, spurring those such as California to reverse course and continue with online classes. While children account for a very small proportion of Covid deaths, researchers still aren’t sure of their overall role in the pandemic.
3rd Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus: Test and Trace needs 'scaling up' for schools to reopen safely | ITV News

The NHS Test and Trace programme needs to be scaled up in order to reopen schools safely, researchers have said. A new modelling study has suggested reopening schools across the UK in September must be combined with a high-coverage test-trace-isolate strategy to avoid a second wave of coronavirus later this year. Researchers warned in a worst-case scenario, a second wave could be 2.3 times higher than the first, according to the study published in The Lancet Child And Adolescent Health. The study comes as Australian research found there were “low” levels of Covid-19 transmission in schools and nurseries.
3rd Aug 2020 - ITV News

Spain to roll out COVID-19 app twice as effective as human tracers in pilot

Spain aims to roll out a COVID-19 contact-tracing app across the country in September after saying on Monday that a pilot showed it could detect almost twice as many potential infections as human trackers during a simulated outbreak on a tiny island. In the absence of a vaccine or cure, states are deploying Bluetooth wireless technology to log contacts and alert people when someone they have been near tests positive. Spain used a new system developed by Google (GOOGL.O) and Apple (AAPL.O) which holds data on individual devices to ensure privacy, to build an app it tested on La Gomera, an island next to the tourist hotspot of Tenerife in the Canary archipelago, in July.
3rd Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Three weeks without Covid-19 death

Northern Ireland has gone three weeks without a death from Covid-19. The latest figures from the Department of Health show it has been 21 days since the last person died from coronavirus, with the death toll remaining at 556. Over the weekend another 40 positive cases of Covid-19 were confirmed bringing the total to 5,988 since the pandemic began. The new cases were detected after 4,632 tests were carried out on 3,206 people. There are currently three Covid-19 patients in Northern Ireland's hospitals with two in intensive care units. In Northern Ireland's care homes there are currently five active outbreaks of the virus with 171 being closed after the virus was found to no longer be present.
3rd Aug 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

Coronavirus: Sewage testing for Covid-19 begins in England

Sewage testing is being conducted across England in a bid to develop wastewater-based Covid-19 surveillance. Scientists discovered early in the pandemic that infected people "shed" the virus in their faeces. Further research concluded that wastewater sampling could provide a signal of a coronavirus outbreak up to a week earlier than medical testing. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says this has begun at 44 wastewater treatment sites. A Defra spokesperson said the government was working with scientists, water companies and the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They would "monitor for fragments of coronavirus genetic material".
3rd Aug 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Lockdown 'reverse gear' warning after pub cluster

Scotland's national clinical director has said there has to be a "reverse gear" over easing lockdown after 27 Covid-19 cases were linked to a pub. Prof Jason Leitch was speaking after the cluster emerged on Sunday linked to the Hawthorn Bar in Aberdeen. NHS Grampian said contact tracing efforts were continuing to find all those associated with the outbreak and 123 people had now been contacted. The pub said cases were linked to customers who visited on 26 July.
3rd Aug 2020 - BBC News

Philippines to reimpose stricter coronavirus lockdown in capital as cases spike

The Philippines will reimpose a stricter coronavirus lockdown in and around the capital for two weeks from Tuesday, authorities said on Sunday, as the country struggles to contain infections that have jumped to more than 100,000 cases. President Rodrigo Duterte has approved placing Metro Manila and nearby provinces such as Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan under so-called “Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine” (MECQ) until Aug. 18, his spokesman Harry Roque told reporters. Some businesses and public transport are expected to be closed in the capital, which is currently under the less restrictive General Community Quarantine classification.
3rd Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Smartphones and COVID-19 transmission: What we know so far

As uncertainty around COVID-19 transmission continues, experts say it's unlikely you'll be infected by your smartphone -- but you should probably sanitize it anyway. Although there haven't been any documented cases of transmission through a smartphone, experts say that sanitizing your phone is just good hygiene, akin to washing your hands.
18th Jul 2020 - ABCNews.go.com


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Can you get Covid-19 through your eyes? Possibly. Should we all be wearing goggles? Probably not.

We know that the coronavirus can enter the body through the nose and mouth -- hence the constant recommendations from doctors to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. But what about the eyes? Should we all be wearing goggles or face shields as well? It's certainly possible that a person could get Covid-19 through the eyes, said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. There is "emerging evidence" that people are catching the virus from droplets floating in the air, the World Health Organization confirmed earlier this month. One of the ways those droplets can enter your body is through the eyes. It's also possible to get infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
31st Jul 2020 - CNN

Aboard the Diamond Princess, a Case Study in Aerosol Transmission

Technology has tried to tease out the ways in which the virus passed from person to person in the staterooms, corridors and common areas of the Diamond Princess. It found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets that were light enough to float in the air, for several minutes or much longer. The new paper has been posted on a preprint server and submitted to a journal; it has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it was shown by Times reporters to nearly a dozen experts in aerosols and infectious disease. The new findings, if confirmed, would have major implications for making indoor spaces safer and choosing among a panoply of personal protective gear.
30th Jul 2020 - The New York Times

The Coronavirus Infected Hundreds at a Georgia Summer Camp

The staff and counselors gathered at the overnight camp in late June. Within a week of the camp orientation, a teenage counselor developed chills and went home. The camp, which the C.D.C. did not name, started sending campers home the next day, and shut down a few days later. By then, 76 percent of the 344 campers and staffers whose test results were available to C.D.C. researchers had been infected with the virus — nearly half the camp. The study is notable because few outbreaks in schools or child care settings have been described to date, said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The study affirms that group settings can lead to large outbreaks, even when they are primarily attended by children,” she said. “The fact that so many children at this camp were infected after just a few days together underscores the importance of mitigation measures in schools that do reopen for in person learning,” Dr. Rivers added.
31st Jul 2020 - The New York Times

Northern Ireland launches UK's first COVID-19 tracker app

Northern Ireland on Friday launched the United Kingdom’s first COVID-19 tracing app, and the first one that can also trace users in another country, Ireland, who have been in contact with someone suffering from the disease. The developer NearForm, which hopes the app will become a blueprint eventually synching up all of Europe, launched a similar app in Ireland on July 8, and cases can now be traced across the island’s open border by two separate health services. NearForm’s technical director Colm Harte said the technical approach it used in developing StopCovid NI would work with apps across the rest of the UK and that it could apply across Europe if countries agree how to share and store data.
31st Jul 2020 - Reuters UK

Greece extends mask-wearing requirement as coronavirus infections flare up

Greece will make mask-wearing compulsory in all indoor public spaces and also in outdoor spaces where proper social distancing cannot be observed, its deputy civil protection minister said on Friday, following a further rise in COVID-19 infections. Greece reported 78 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections on Friday, its highest tally in about two months. Overall, it has so far confirmed 4,447 COVID-19 cases with 202 deaths, a relatively low number compared to many European countries, after imposing an early lockdown in the spring. “The decisive factor in successfully confronting the pandemic in the first phase was citizens’ responsibility, the individual responsibility of every one,” Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said in a televised address. “This was the ‘secret’ of Greece’s success and we must all show the same responsibility and alertness in this phase.”
1st Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Germany adds 3 coronavirus-hit Spanish regions to quarantine list

Germany on Friday (July 31) added three northern Spanish regions to its list of high-risk destinations, meaning anyone arriving from those areas will have to produce a negative coronavirus test or go into quarantine for 14 days. Germany's Foreign Ministry said it had toughened up its warning against travel to the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon following a spike in Covid-19 cases there. The move comes after Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control added the three regions to its high-risk list.
31st Jul 2020 - The Straits Times

Vietnam braces for a fresh wave of coronavirus despite earlier success in containing the outbreak

Vietnam, once praised for its success in containing the coronavirus outbreak, is now battling a resurgence in cases and has warned that the disease could spread wider across the country. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned that every province and city in the country is at risk of further infections, reported Reuters, citing state broadcaster Vietnam Television. Authorities have tightened containment measures in Danang, such as stepping up contact tracing, limiting crowd sizes and halting non-essential services. Flights to and from the city have also been temporarily suspended.
31st Jul 2020 - CNBC


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Coronavirus: Under-5s spread infection as easily as older kids

Children under five years old can transmit the novel coronavirus just as easily as older kids can, a new study suggests. Researchers found that although youngsters only develop a mild illness, they have viral loads in their noses up to 100 times greater than adults. The team, from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, says the ability of younger children to spread COVID-19 has likely been under-recognized because most schools and daycares closed by late March due to the pandemic. Children kindergarten-age or younger had viral loads between 10-fold and 100-fold greater amount in their upper respiratory tract. 'We found that children under five with COVID-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see with respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV,' said lead author Dr Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Lurie Children's. 'This has important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safety of reopening schools and daycare.'
30th Jul 2020 - Daily Mail

As a Covid-19 survivor, I don't have blind faith in health experts. Here's why

When WHO officials walked back their statement that asymptomatic transmission was “very rare”, Andy Slavitt, a former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, tweeted that WHO officials should “stop expressing certainty when you don’t have it.”. It is equally important that the media and public retain a critical eye when seeking to understand information from WHO officials. Scientists have been criticized before for being bad communicators, but as Slavitt points out, “public health communication isn’t ancillary to public health. It is the central component in battling it.” Unfortunately, a knowledge gap still exists between scientists, public health officials and the public they are supposed to serve.
30th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

The U.S. Can Control Covid Without a Second Lockdown

It’s also time to stop blaming each other — which is tearing us apart. As Sandman pointed out, “all public health failures are policy failures.” If people don’t follow a policy, it’s because it’s the wrong policy or was badly communicated. This is what policy makers are supposed to think through. A few brave souls in the public health community, trying to help people find a level of much-needed balance, have come forward to say that some activities are relatively low risk. Being around other people outdoors is safer than indoors, and short exposures are safer than long ones. If everyone wears a mask, getting a haircut is OK. Getting exercise outdoors is reasonable. Outdoor restaurant tables are safer than indoor ones.
30th Jul 2020 - BloombergQuint

Wisconsin Mandates Masks, Declares Public Health Emergency

Wisconsin's governor on Thursday ordered residents wear masks when indoors and not in a private residence, joining dozens of other U.S. state leaders mandating face coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus. In a statement, Governor Tony Evers said Wisconsin was seeing an increase in significant community spread and rise in COVID-19 cases which required he declare a new public health emergency and require face coverings statewide.
30th Jul 2020 - The New York Times

After the surge, the psychological impact of Covid-19 is hitting home

Having dealt with the months-long terror of crammed ICUs, unavailable PPE and the fear of getting infected, the coronavirus crisis is taking its toll on healthcare workers' mental health
30th Jul 2020 - Wired.co.uk

Dutch government will not advise public to wear masks: minister

The Dutch government on Wednesday said it will not advise the public to wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus, asserting that their effectiveness has not been proven. The decision was announced by Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark after a review by the country’s National Institute for Health (RIVM). The government will instead seek better adherence to social distancing rules after a surge in coronavirus cases in the country this week, Van Ark said at a press conference in The Hague. “Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the Cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks” Van Ark said.
30th Jul 2020 - Reuters

Scotland expected to have Covid-19 tracker app by autumn

Scotland is at an “advanced stage” in developing a coronavirus proximity tracing app to be available by the autumn, the First Minister has said. Nicola Sturgeon revealed she hopes to give more details about the software soon after a question from Gillian Martin MSP on Thursday.
30th Jul 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Australian state makes masks compulsory as COVID-19 spreads

Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, Victoria state, will make wearing masks compulsory after reporting a record 723 new cases on Thursday, mostly among the vulnerable residents of aged care homes. Masks have been compulsory for the past week in the state capital, Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city with 5 million people, and a neighboring semi-rural district. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said masks or similar face coverings will become compulsory across the state starting late Sunday. Residents around the city of Geelong will not be allowed to have visitors in their homes from late Thursday in a second measure aimed at slowing the spread of the virus from the city.
30th Jul 2020 - Yahoo News UK


Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Jul 2020

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'One big wave' – why the Covid-19 second wave may not exist

The Covid-19 pandemic is currently unfolding in “one big wave” with no evidence that it follows seasonal variations common to influenza and other coronaviruses, such as the common cold, the World Health Organization has warned. Amid continued debates over what constitutes a second wave, a resurgence or seasonal return of the disease, Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson, insisted that these discussions are not a helpful way to understand the spread of the disease. “People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and this one is behaving differently,” Harris told a virtual briefing in Geneva, urging vigilance in applying measures to slow transmission that appears to be accelerated by mass gatherings
29th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 news: Young people may be driving spikes in cases, says WHO

Rising coronavirus infections among young people could be driving recent spikes in cases across Europe, said Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s Europe regional director, in a BBC report today. Kluge said he has two daughters and understands that young people “do not want to miss a summer,” but added that they have a responsibility toward themselves, their family members and their communities. The Netherlands is among countries which have reported higher infection rates among younger people, with about a quarter of people who tested positive there last week aged 20 to 29. Earlier this week, officials in Brittany, France ordered curfews on beaches, parks and gardens in an attempt to prevent large gatherings of young people in particular, according to local leaders. Officials in Spain have also imposed similar curfews, with bars and nightclubs in Catalonia required to close by midnight since Friday.
29th Jul 2020 - New Scientist

Italy 'walking a fine line' on coronavirus infections

Italy was the first European nation to be engulfed by coronavirus, but as the prospect of another lockdown looms in some of its neighbours, the country has managed to avoid a resurgence of infections. At least so far. Three experts who spoke to the Guardian p