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Australia’s COVID-19 Delta outbreak worsens despite Sydney lockdown



A woman wearing a protective mask walks past restaurant tables in the city center during a lockdown to help contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia on July 5, 2021, according to public health regulations for Seating are closed. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

  • Sydney faces an extension of the lockdown
  • Record daily cases, total infections close to 700
  • Changes to public vaccination recommendations

SYDNEY, July 12 (Reuters) – The prospect of an extended lockdown in Sydney loomed on Monday as Australian health officials reported another record daily increase in COVID-19 cases for the year, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant .

The state of New South Wales reported 112 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, almost all in Sydney, despite the country’s largest city entering its third week of lockdown. The number of cases has been at a record level for at least three days.

There was a ray of hope, however, when the number of newly infected people who stayed in the community while they were infectious fell from 45 on Sunday to 34.

Minister of State Gladys Berejiklian said progress on that number in the coming days will determine whether to extend the Sydney lockdown, which is slated to end on Friday.

“This is the number we need to get as close to zero as possible,” said Berejiklian during her daily television briefing. “It’s really up to us. The advice of health professionals is based on what these numbers look like. I can’t be any clearer.”

Berejiklian said the majority of cases on Monday were family members or close friends of people already infected and pleaded with residents to abide by lockdown rules, which were tightened over the weekend.

Schools in Sydney, home to a fifth of Australia’s 25 million population, are closed, public gatherings are limited to two people, and residents are only allowed out of their homes for essential business, including work and grocery shopping. Continue reading

Australia has previously successfully suppressed Covid-19 outbreaks through quick bans, quick contact tracing and strict social distancing rules. With a total of around 31,200 cases and 911 deaths since the pandemic began, the country has outperformed many other developed economies.

However, the Sydney outbreak caused by the Delta variant has developed rapidly. The total number of infections is approaching 700 since it was first discovered in mid-June. 63 people are in the hospital, 18 in intensive care, officials said, while a woman in her 90s was the first COVID-19 death for the country this year.


The Sydney outbreak has put Australia’s sluggish vaccine adoption under the microscope. Only about 11% of Australia’s adult population of just over 20.5 million are fully vaccinated. Continue reading

Critics have pointed to confusing public advice and vaccine shortages.

Official federal health guidelines recommend that the locally made AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine be restricted to people over 60 years of age due to blood clot concerns, while the imported Pfizer (PFE.N) vaccine is currently limited to people over the age of 40 up to 60 years is limited due to supply shortages.

However, New South Wales officials said Monday that the state’s vaccination centers and pharmacies would be authorized to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over 40. The federal government has since said that anyone under 40 who wants to get the AstraZeneca vaccine can speak to their doctor.

Lt. Gen. John Frewen, head of the COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force, defended a newly released ad Monday showing a teen-looking intubated woman in a hospital bed struggling to breathe and urging people to get vaccinated.

“We believed the conditions in Sydney at the moment for this commercial,” said Frewen. “It’s utterly confrontational and we didn’t take it lightly.”

The federal government doubled its order for Pfizer shots to 40 million in April, enough for four-fifths of the population. It has received around 4.4 million doses to date, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Starting next week, around one million cans will be delivered every week. Continue reading

Australia has also ordered 10 million doses of the Moderna vaccine (MRNA.O), with the first million expected to be delivered in September.

Reporting from Renju Jose; Editing by Jane Wardell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Disabled workers fear COVID-19 silver lining to fade as ‘old normal’ returns



  • Remote work opened “Window of Opportunity”
  • Some fear temporary changes in the workplace
  • Disabled workers deserve job security – activists
  • Drawing lessons from the pandemic, right-wing groups say

PORTO, Portugal, July 26 (Reuters) – As the world of work shifted to flexible hours and remote offices during the COVID-19 pandemic, some disabled people saw years of pushing companies to create more accessible and inclusive workplaces , a chance .

With more people being vaccinated and offices reopening, some fear that the policies that made their working lives easier will be rolled back and calls for long-term change ignored.

“The changes are temporary … I thought we’d get off better, but that’s not the case,” said Miguel Azevedo, coordinator of the Cidadao Diferente disability movement in Porto. “The problems remain.”

The list of barriers people with disabilities face when looking for work is long, ranging from discriminatory attitudes to poorly designed office space.

Some disabled people see their flexible working requests denied, making it harder to keep medical appointments or avoid overcrowded trains and buses during rush hour, said Haydyn Hammersley, social policy officer at the European Disability Forum (EDF) based in Brussels.

For others, especially those with debilitating chronic illnesses, being able to work from home is essential to deal with it. But not all companies are ready to make adjustments.

When the pandemic broke out and millions of workers stayed at home, companies quickly adapted. Remote working became the “new normal” and some employees were given more freedom to manage their day – there was a “window of opportunity” to sustain such changes over the long term, Hammersley said.

Maintaining the possibility of digital events and meetings beyond the pandemic would allow disabled people to attend when the physical space in which they take place is inaccessible.

“Working from home is something people have asked about … ironically, companies said it was impossible,” Hammersley said. “It wasn’t until everyone was affected that we suddenly could work miracles. We learned a lot of things during the pandemic, so let’s not forget them.”


However, normalizing remote working could deter companies from making physical office space accessible, EDF warned. “This contradicts inclusion and carries the risk that workers with disabilities are marginalized,” it said.

Teleworking opened “doors” for 47-year-old Rui Brito, who lost his arm in a machine accident at the age of 16, but said it was important that companies give disabled people the choice of their jobs.

Brito, who got a job last year during the pandemic, prefers to work from his office in the Portuguese city of Porto as it helps him integrate with colleagues.

But he said, “When cities and public transport are inaccessible, we create barriers and people give up.”

Disabled people and human rights activists also pointed to an increase in economic uncertainty as a result of the pandemic.

The number of disabled people registered as unemployed in Portugal rose from 21,847 in 2019 to 23,646 in 2020 and to around 24,500 in the first five months of 2021, according to the latest available figures.

“We are fighting the economic downturn,” said Brito.

Only 50.8% of people with disabilities are employed across the European Union, compared with 74.8% of non-disabled people.

One of the reasons so many disabled people lost their jobs was because many have low-paying, fixed-term contracts, which makes them easy targets, said Azevedo of Cidadao Diferente.

He said governments need to do more to encourage businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to hire disabled workers, and a quota system in several European countries is not enough.

According to a 2018 report, the EU could lose up to 1.2 billion euros in GDP annually because not all people with disabilities of working age are employed.

EDF said many disabled people fear the prospect of “going back to normal – where they are marginalized and jobs are inaccessible to them”.

Additional coverage by Violeta Moura Santos; Edited by Victoria Waldersee and Janet Lawrence

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Florida Leads U.S. In New Covid-19 Coronavirus Cases, Yet Sticks With Weekly Not Daily Reporting



Florida now accounts for one of five newly reported Covid-19 coronavirus infections in the United States … [+] USA Pictured here is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. (Photo by Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

A lot can happen in a week.

From July 16 to 23, Florida counted 73,199 new Covid-19 coronavirus cases. That’s an increase of over 60% from the previous week, based on data from Florida Health. During this period, Florida had more reported new infections than any other state in the United States. In fact, Florida now accounts for about one in five newly reported Covid-19 coronavirus infections across the United States

There have also been at least 282 Covid-19-related deaths in Florida in the past week, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. All of this happened in a state where less than half the population (48.5%) is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and vaccination rates are slowing, as this News4JAX segment showed:

So it doesn’t seem to be doing very well in Florida unless you’re a virus that looks like a prickly massage ball.

With all that said, the Florida state government doesn’t seem to be deviating from its June 4 switch from daily to weekly reporting of Covid-19 stats for the state, according to Forrest Saunders, who works for WPTV, West Palm’s NBC subsidiary. reports Beach, Florida. Florida is one of several states that have decided in the past few months to give up daily reporting in favor of less frequent reporting. But as Arielle Mitropoulos described in her July 2 ABC News article titled “Dozen of States End Daily COVID-19 Data Reports Ending What Makes Experts Fear Hidden Outbreaks”, many public health experts weren’t too happy with this move away from daily reporting on Covid -19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths amid a pandemic.

Imagine what would happen if you told the public that they could only get sports, stock market, or celebrity news on a weekly basis. It probably wouldn’t go that well. After all, society has gotten used to real-time updates and smartphone notifications on all sorts of things like “Kim Kardashian clears out while wakeboarding on July 4th weekend”. Right now, Florida residents may still have more real-time information about what the Kardashians are doing than what a potentially deadly virus is doing that is spreading around them.

That makes about as much sense as a one-legged cat suit for a dog. Florida is fighting the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In general, it is better to know where your opponent is and may be moving in any fight, whether you are playing sports or video games, conducting a military operation, participating in a beatboxing competition, or trying to control an infectious disease. You can’t just blindfold and use the Force, as Obi-Wan Kenobi once said Luke Skywalker in the movie Star Wars.

In the middle of a goddamn pandemic, the daily updates are far from TMI (too much information). In fact, the daily updates provided over the course of 2020 were still a TLI (too little information) or a TWTHIGO (also what the hell is going on) because they couldn’t give you a timely feel of where the virus was headed . That’s partly because last year Covid-19 testing in the US was about as well coordinated as a marmot-organized Dancing with the Stars episode. Many people couldn’t even get tested when they wanted to get tested. Or they had to contend with delays. Even after the tests are run, there may be delays before the results are reported to the state. It’s not clear how many of these issues have been fixed since the US shifted from “testing, testing, testing” to “face masks, face masks, face masks” to “vaccine, vaccine, vaccine”, although all three should continue to do so important. Hence, even the daily reporting on any given day can only show what the virus did a few weeks ago and not what the virus is currently doing.

Delaying the reporting delay by another week hampers the ability of health professionals, county and community leaders, schools, businesses, transport companies, and many other segments of society to coordinate their response. By opting for weekly coverage only, Florida is essentially saying “stay tuned until next week” as the virus continues to spread.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not implemented consistent Covid-19 prevention measures such as face masks and social distancing requirements across the state. In fact, as Alison Durkee reported for Forbes, DeSantis actually resisted such measures. It is up to organizations, schools, companies, municipalities and counties to decide which precautions they have to take themselves. And this requires monitoring information to know where and when the virus might swell. If they wait for the next weekly report, they could be in the middle of a high level of viral activity without knowing it, the opposite of sexy so to speak and knowing it. This could leave them in garden chairs like birds: ducks sitting down.

Not knowing how much virus activity is increasing day by day can also fail health professionals. Chances are they want to know beforehand whether a day could be a bad day, a very bad day, a really bad day, or a super really bad day.

States like Florida could also use more advance warning to avoid a repeat of 2020. Remember when states were forced to take more drastic measures like school and job closings to curb a runaway situation. It so happened because the US hasn’t taken less drastic measures to stop the virus sooner, such as social distancing and the use of face masks to keep the daily rate of cases from rising so quickly.

Despite the prevalence of the delta variant, only a few festival-goers seem to practice social here … [+] Distancing or wearing face masks at Hard Rock Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rich Fury / Getty Images)

Getty Images

The implications of Florida’s decisions extend well beyond this state. What happens in Florida doesn’t necessarily stay in Florida. As long as people continue to travel to and from the Sunshine State, the virus can continue to hitchhike trips to other states like drunk people using Ubers.

Of course, some may argue that there is not enough time, staff, or resources to prepare and issue daily Covid-19 reports. This argument is as valid as net underwear. States must make monitoring of the Covid-19 coronavirus a priority as failing to contain the virus affects everyone and every industry. Think how much companies regularly spend to get information about what their customers and competitors are doing and then adjust accordingly. They realize how powerful information can be and how it can guide their actions. Because of this, ads for thigh-high boots, bondage harnesses, and chastity belts can appear in your browsers shortly after you’ve done your typical daily internet search and website visit.

Based on information gathered by Facebook and other platforms, companies can know and foresee what you’re going to do before you even know what you’re going to do yourself. This anticipation can give such companies a competitive advantage. And that is exactly what is needed in the fight against SARS-CoV-2, some competitive advantages. Unfortunately, without sufficient monitoring information, this cannot happen when you are trying to control the Covid-19 coronavirus. Just like with John Doe in the movie Se7en, the Covid-19 coronavirus gets the upper hand if you don’t know enough about what the virus is doing. Or at least the top tip.

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Covid-19 pandemic in the US is ‘spiraling out of control’ due to unvaccinated people, Trump administration official says



“There is more weakening to come. Whether it is about masking or closure or whether your children have to return to virtual learning, this is coming, ”the surgeon general of the Trump administration told CBS on Sunday to“ Face the Nation ”.

“And it’s coming because this pandemic is spiraling out of control again. And it’s getting out of hand because we don’t get enough people vaccinated. “

In 48 states, the rate of new Covid-19 cases increased by at least 10% in the past week compared to the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In 34 of these states, the incidence rate increased by more than 50%.

Hospitals are filling up with Covid-19 patients again – except now, patients are younger than before, doctors in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Missouri said.

“The thing that makes this possible is the fact that we are dealing with the most transmissible version of Covid-19 that we have seen so far,” said current US surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Eligible Americans who want to prevent more masking obligations, business closings and a return to distance learning must do their part and get vaccinated, said Adams, the Trump administration official.

“It will help every single American enjoy the freedoms we want to return to,” he said.

Immunocompromised people may be the first to receive an extra dose

The Covid-19 vaccines used in the US do not contain coronavirus, but they do require an immune system response to function. Millions of Americans who are immunocompromised or taking drugs that suppress the immune system may not get as much help from a vaccine as others do.Why immunocompromised people count on others to be vaccinatedWhile there has been much speculation as to whether (or when) booster vaccinations might be needed, the CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration said earlier this month that “Americans who have been fully vaccinated currently do not need a booster vaccination.”

But that could change as the data evolves, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

If a booster shot is needed, people with suppressed immune systems could be the first to get one, Fauci told CNN on Sunday.

Those with suppressed immune systems may include transplant patients, those undergoing cancer chemotherapy, people with autoimmune diseases, and those taking immunosuppressive drugs, Fauci said.

As with many other vaccines, a small proportion of those vaccinated have developed breakthrough infections. But more than 97% of people hospitalized with Covid-19 are unvaccinated, said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky last week. How concerned should vaccinated people be about breakthrough infections?

Within the tiny percentage of fully vaccinated Covid-19 patients in the US who were hospitalized, a study found that 44% of them were immunocompromised people.

The CDC and FDA are “studying several options” to allow immunocompromised people a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine if needed, a statement made Friday.

“New data shows that there is an increased antibody response in some immunocompromised people after an additional dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine,” the CDC said in a statement to CNN on Friday.

“While early data show the potential benefit of administering an additional dose, more evidence is needed to determine safety and efficacy in immunocompromised people.”

Those who are immunocompromised and vaccinated against Covid-19 may want to keep wearing masks, Murthy said.

Rising Covid-19 numbers

In California, San Diego County and Los Angeles County both reported their highest case numbers since February, and LA County’s hospital admissions more than doubled in two weeks.

In Florida, state health data shows that the positivity of new cases nearly doubled in two weeks, from 7.8% in the week of July 2 to 15.1%.

She thought living in a rural area would protect her from Covid-19.  Now she is in the hospital

And Louisiana now has the highest increase in cases per capita in the US, state officials said Friday.

“We know that more than 80% of this is the Delta variant – that’s why this has increased,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

“And what is making the increase is a very small percentage of people who have been vaccinated.”

In the rare event that a fully vaccinated person later becomes infected, that infection is likely to cause mild or no symptoms, Murthy said.

“If you get a breakthrough infection – which itself will be unusual – the more likely it is mild or asymptomatic,” said the surgeon general.

Vaccines offered at a music festival

As the vaccination rate in Florida drops, the rate of new infections with Covid-19 has skyrocketed.

The state reported 73,199 new Covid-19 cases last week – up from 45,603 the previous week, according to the Florida Department of Health.Traveling to the Caribbean During Covid-19: What You Need To Know Before You Travel

And the number of new vaccinations has fallen by more than two thirds in the last few months, from more than 769,000 vaccine doses in the week of May 14 to around 245,000 last week.

Miami-Dade County’s Mayoress Daniella Levine Cava urged concertgoers at the three-day Rolling Loud Festival this weekend to slow the spread. The vaccine site was set up in partnership with the state Department of Health and will offer both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines through midnight Sunday, according to the county website. “Our community is experiencing a dangerous spike in COVID cases,” tweeted the mayor, “and if you aren’t vaccinated you can get the vaccination at Rolling Loud all weekend.”

CNN’s John Bonifield, Elizabeth Cohen, Lauren Mascarenhas, Melissa Alonso, Chuck Johnston, Alexandra Meeks and Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.

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