Contact tracing apps can be a lifesaver in this pandemic age. Contact tracing has a proven record in preventing the spread of disease outbreaks. It is a simple yet effective technique based on notifying all the people who have been in contact with the infected person. The World Health Organization has reiterated that “tracing every contact must be the backbone of the response in every country.”
Contact tracing apps are a digital version of this technique. Worldwide, governments use these apps to keep track of infected persons and their contacts. BLE and other technologies help authorities to fetch and share the data. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea has successfully implemented a contact tracing system to keep the infection rate under control. Several other countries including France and Germany have also created apps of their own.
Challenges of Contact Tracing Apps
Let’s face it. For using the contact tracing app, users need a smartphone with a Bluetooth system. As per one survey, around 2 billion smartphones are not compatible with the contact tracing app based on BLE technology. Another nail in the coffin is it is necessary that people who are interacting with one another should use the system to get an accurate result. What’s more, many people have raised privacy concerns because of the permissions such apps need.
There is no exaggeration in mentioning that due to these major and some minor hurdles, digital contact tracing is just not sufficient to prevent everyone from being infected. Talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, it takes a long time to show symptoms and many people remain asymptomatic without being tested. Therefore, social distancing will remain the main for citizens to protect themselves even if many countries have brought contact tracing apps.
Countries like the UK and India asks people to stay more than two meters away from everyone. The UK guidance also includes avoidance of non-essential journeys in public transport vehicles and other social activities. But, as a social animal, social distancing is a bit challenging for us, especially after lockdowns are lifted. A UK-based firm’s report on social distancing has revealed that an essential factor in people being willing to follow social distance was they thought they could do it. But, as the necessity for maintaining social distance increases for a longer period, people will feel that they cannot maintain it.
Simply put, people fail to maintain the norms of social distancing even if they have the best intentions. Enthusiasm fades away gradually and people start compromising norms. Here, contact tracing apps lend a helping hand but then, it is necessary to focus on making these more apps more effective. Let’s understand the mechanism of the contact tracing app to find how we can make the app more efficient.
How Contact Tracing Apps Work
These apps store the Bluetooth identifier transmitted from every phone they encounter. They also store the received signal strength to get a rough approximation of the distance between two smartphones or say, two persons. The app
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, is the latest leader at the forefront of battling the coronavirus crisis to go into self-isolation, after being identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for the disease.
Tedros tweeted late on Sunday: “I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for #COVID19. I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home.”
The biologist and public health authority, who has headed up the WHO’s effort to fight Covid-19 since it first emerged last December, added it was “critically important” to comply with health guidance in order to suppress the virus.
WHO guidance indicates that close contacts of people infected with Covid-19 self-quarantine in a facility or at home for 14 days.
Tedros, 55, joins a list of global leaders who have self-isolated in recent months after either coming into contact with someone with Covid-19, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or after contracting it themselves, such as U.S. President Donald Trump. The timing of Tedros’ self-isolation comes as the outbreak, first reported to the WHO from Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31 2019, surges again across Europe and the U.S., prompting fresh lockdowns. In June, as a number of governments opted to lift months-long restrictions on movement and businesses, Tedros warned that the worst of the virus was “yet to come” as he slammed the absence of a joined-up, global strategy and inadequate test and trace systems.
At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, and, despite the U.S. accounting for 9.2 million of 46 million infected worldwide, President Trump moved to take the U.S. out of the WHO, with the withdrawal set to be effective from July 2021. In May, Trump halted payments to the global public health body, accusing it of mismanaging the pandemic and being “China-centric”, as Trump’s own spat with China over trade and the coronavirus, worsened.
England Will Go On New Lockdown After Coronavirus Spike (Forbes)
France Follows Germany In Second Wave Of Lockdowns (Forbes)
Here’s Why The WHO Thinks ‘The Worst Is Yet To Come’ From Coronavirus (Forbes)
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The World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced late Sunday he was self-quarantining after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for #COVID19,” Tedros wrote on Twitter. “I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home.”
The announcement comes as the coronavirus has totaled at least 46,426,677 worldwide cases and more than 1,199,684 deaths, as of Sunday night, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
4 CORONAVIRUS TREATMENTS, INCLUDING REMDESIVIR, HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE, FLOP IN LARGE WHO STUDY
Tedros is currently in Geneva, which is home to WHO headquarters, according to his Twitter bio. On Sunday, the city announced a partial lockdown, following an outbreak of cases and hospitalizations due to the virus.
“On November 1, 474 people are being treated by the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), including 56 in intensive care beds (intensive and intermediate care). As a reminder, in mid-October, the HUG had 78 hospitalizations, including 13 in intensive care beds,” a statement by the cantonal government said.
“The figures show that the situation is severely worsening. Over the past few days, more than 1,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus on a daily basis,” the statement continued.
According to WHO guidelines cited by Tedros, the agency “recommends that all contacts of individuals with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 be quarantined in a designated facility or at home for 14 days from their last exposure.”
HEALTHY YOUNG PEOPLE MAY WAIT FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE UNTIL 2022, WHO OFFICIAL SAYS
On Sunday, he wrote that it was “critically important that we all comply with health guidance.”
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“This is how we will break chains of #COVID19 transmission, suppress the virus, and protect health systems,” Tedros added. “My @WHO colleagues and I will continue to engage with partners in solidarity to save lives and protect the vulnerable. Together!”
Multiple senior aides to the vice president have recently tested positive for COVID-19
While a number of people in Mike Pence‘s inner circle recently tested positive for COVID-19, the vice president reportedly has no plans to cancel his scheduled campaign events with the General Election drawing within a week away.
Pence apparently does not plan to self-quarantine to be sure not to spread coronavirus under the guise of being an essential worker, should he have unknowingly contracted the virus from one of his staff members. He and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative on Saturday and Sunday, as reported by The New York Times.
According to spokesman Devin O’Malley, Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short tested positive for the disease on Saturday. In addition to Short, four other members of his staff have also contracted the virus that has caused a global pandemic. Marty Obst, one of Pence’s advisors, also tested positive earlier this week, a person familiar with the matter said.
“While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with the C.D.C. guidelines for essential personnel,” O’Malley stated.
Pence, under his role as second in command to President Donald Trump, is in charge of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
READ MORE: Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t think he can get COVID-19: ‘It’s mutual respect’
Despite these positive tests affecting people so near to him, Pence is choosing to continue traveling around the nation under his separate capacity as a vice presidential candidate and surrogate for the Trump reelection campaign, less than 10 days out from the Nov. 3 election. This comes weeks after Trump and First Lady Melania Trump contracted coronavirus earlier this month. The disease hospitalized the president for days.
Since the President’s diagnosis, it was reported that several other members of the Administration had contracted COVID-19. This includes former political advisor Kellyanne Conway, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, policy advisor Stephen Miller and campaign manager Bill Stepien.
Questions surrounding the safety protocols at the White House concerning coronavirus have been raised heavily since it penetrated to heavily weeks ago. President Trump has also returned to holding public campaign rallies, and the Washington Post reported that during the first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden, guests of Trump opted not to wear masks during the broadcast.
Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite an apparent outbreak of the coronavirus among his senior aides, the White House says. O’Malley said the vice president and his wife “remain in good health.”
READ MORE: Fauci advocates mask mandate amid COVID-19 surge across US
Trump commented on Short early Sunday after his plane landed at Joint Base Andrews, outside Washington.
“I did hear about it just now,” he said. “And I think he’s quarantining. Yeah. I did hear
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter
SUNDAY, Oct. 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Halloween is risky enough this year with the coronavirus pandemic, so don’t risk your vision as well by wearing costume contact lenses, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says.
Costume contact lens packaging that claims “one-size-fits-all” or “no need to see an eye doctor” is false, the academy said.
Poorly fitted contact lenses can scrape the cornea (the outer layer of the eye), making the eye more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses that can cause infections.
People who buy contacts without a prescription have a 16-fold increased risk of developing an eye infection, research shows.
“As we follow new precautions to keep our families safe in this abnormal year, it’s important not to forget about the normal hazards that can occur during Halloween,” Dr. Dianna Seldomridge, a clinical spokesperson for the AAO, said in an academy news release. “Whatever you plan, please follow these tips to protect your eyes this Halloween.”
- Get an Rx. Buy only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved contact lenses. Color contacts or other decorative lenses are sometimes sold at corner shops or online, but such sales are illegal. Contact lenses must be bought with a doctor’s prescription.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands before putting your contacts in or touching the skin around your eye. Cleaning and disinfecting your contact lenses as instructed minimizes the risk of an eye infection. See an ophthalmologist immediately if you notice any swelling, redness, pain or discharge from the eye when using eye makeup or contacts.
- Watch the clock. Don’t wear costume contact lenses longer than four or five hours. The dye in them can restrict oxygen flow to the cornea. Never sleep in contact lenses.
- Keep them to yourself. Never share contact lenses or eye makeup. Doing so can spread germs and bacteria, which can cause infections.
- Take safety precautions. If you’re decorating for Halloween, wear protective eyewear.
Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite his exposure to a top aide who tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said Saturday.
Pence himself tested negative, his office said. Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, the vice president is considered a “close contact” of his chief of staff, Marc Short, but will not quarantine, said spokesman Devin O’Malley.Read More
The Centers for Disease Control has changed its definition of who is considered a “close contact” with someone who has coronvirus.
Previously, CDC defined close contact as being within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. That definition was used to determine when a person should be quarantined. Now, a “close contact” is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person or persons for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period, indicating multiple brief encounters can contribute to spread of COVID-19.
While the CDC said data on the subject was limited, “15 cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of 6 feet or less can be used as an operational definition (of a close contact) for contact investigation,” the guidance noted.
The change comes after a study looked at the spread of coronavirus at a Vermont prison when an employee contracted the virus after brief, close contact with infected incarcerated people that added up to more than 15 minutes over the course of an 8-hour shift.
Time of exposure does contribute to rate of transmission, however, CDC said.
“In general, the longer you are around a person with COVID-19 (even if they do not have symptoms), the more likely you are to get infected,” CDC said.
People who have come into close contact with a coronavirus-infected person are supposed to quarantine and be tested.
According to the CDC, the number of cases in the country are on an upswing with 70% of health districts experiencing an increase. The average daily case county in the past week was 13% higher than the previous 7 days, CDC said.
After changing its definition of a “close contact,” New Braunfels ISD reported a sharp decrease in the number of students and faculty exposed to COVID-19.Read More
By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
THURSDAY, Oct. 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) — In a move that widens the pool of people considered at risk for coronavirus infection, U.S. health officials released new guidance on Wednesday that redefines who’s considered a “close contact” of an infected individual.
The change, issued by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, will likely have the biggest impact in group settings where people are in repeated contact with others for brief periods over the course of a day, such as schools and workplaces, the Washington Post reported.
The CDC had previously defined a “close contact” as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. Now, a close contact will be defined as someone who was within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. State and local health departments rely on this definition to conduct contact tracing, the Post reported.
The new guidance arrives just as the country is “unfortunately seeing a distressing trend, with cases increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country,” Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, said during a rare media briefing Wednesday at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, the Post reported.
CDC scientists had been discussing the new guidance for several weeks, said an agency official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Post reported. Then came unsettling evidence in a government report published Wednesday: CDC and Vermont health officials had discovered the virus was contracted by a 20-year-old prison employee who in an eight-hour shift had 22 interactions — for a total of over 17 minutes — with individuals who later tested positive for the virus.
“Available data suggests that at least one of the asymptomatic [infectious detainees] transmitted” the virus during these brief encounters over the course of the employee’s workday, the report said.
Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, called the updated guidance an important change.
“It’s easy to accumulate 15 minutes in small increments when you spend all day together — a few minutes at the water cooler, a few minutes in the elevator, and so on,” Rivers told the Post. “I expect this will result in many more people being identified as close contacts.”
At the same time, it’s not clear whether the multiple brief encounters were the only explanation for how the prison employee became infected, Rivers added. Other possibilities might have included airborne or surface transmission of the virus. She also noted that the new guidance “will be difficult for contact tracing programs to implement, and schools and businesses will have a difficult time operating under this guidance.”
Third COVID Surge Spreads Across the Country
Meanwhile, a third surge of coronavirus cases now has a firm grip on the United States, with an average of 59,000 new infections being reported across the country every day.
That tally is
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the United States has recorded more than 8.2 million cases of COVID-19 and over 220,000 deaths.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that, since the coronavirus pandemic began, the U.S. has seen nearly 300,000 more deaths than in recent years.
Usually about 1.9 million deaths are reported from February to September. This year, it’s closer to 2.2 million. The largest increase – 54% – was among Hispanic Americans.
COVID-19 was involved in about two-thirds of the excess deaths, the CDC reported. That appears in line with Johns Hopkins University data putting the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus at more than 222,000.
The CDC also released updated definitions of the parameters of close contact with someone with COVID-19, which shows the coronavirus spreads much easier than previously believed.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Senate failed by a 51-44 vote on Wednesday to pass a $500 billion emergency aid package that didn’t include $1,200 stimulus checks but would have given a federal boost to weekly unemployment benefits, sent $100 billion to schools and allocated funding for testing and vaccine development. The vote was 51-44, short of the 60 votes required to allow the legislation to move forward. Nearly all Democrats opposed it over concerns that more money was needed to combat the virus and help Americans.
Some significant developments:
- USA TODAY’s experts foresee that at least one COVID vaccine will be approved in coming months. Then comes the hard part: Distribution.
- Idaho is seeing its largest spike in cases since the pandemic began. In the past two weeks, infections are up 46.5%. The governor’s plan urges personal responsibility.
- First lady Melania Trump canceled her first campaign rally in months, citing a “lingering cough” from her coronavirus infection earlier this month.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.3 million cases and 222,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 41.1 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
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Puerto Rico shutters 911 call centers amid coronavirus outbreak
Both of Puerto Rico’s 911 call centers were shut down Wednesday night after several employees tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced.
Public Safety Secretary Pedro Janer said people should call the island’s emergency management agency at 787-724-0124 or police at 787-343-2020 in an emergency. He said both agencies are operating 24 hours a day.
“This is serious,” said Nazario Lugo, president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Emergency Managers, adding he was shocked at the government’s temporary plan to handle emergencies in the U.S. territory of 3.2 million people.
It is the first time Puerto Rico has shut down its primary and secondary 911 call centers. Janer said the buildings will be thoroughly cleaned and that he will soon announce when operations