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Special schools in England urgently seek coronavirus advice | The Guardian.

[Mon 31 Aug 2020 12.08 BST]

Institutions awaiting greater clarity over safety rules days before many reopen.

Ben Quinn writes:

Special schools in England are anxiously seeking updated coronavirus advice, only days before many reopen in a sector where social distancing is often impossible.

The most recent guidance was published in July but those running special schools say they need greater clarity, particularly in relation to children with suctioning needs.

Phillip Potter, the headteacher of Oak Grove college in West Sussex, which opens to the first of its pupils on Friday, said he was working on the basis that the guidance was still in preparation. However, he needed further information in order to source and prepare for using the right personal protective equipment, for which the college was already paying “an extortionate amount”.

“There’s also the question of whether we can get enough of it in time, and the need to reassure and prepare our staff, young people and their parents. We need to know the rules we will be following,” added Potter, whose school teaches 260 students with learning difficulties, from years 7 to 14.

For suctioning procedures that may need to be carried out on children with cerebral palsy or chronic lung conditions, his school and others were considering FFp3 masks, which are typically used in the NHS for potentially infectious aerosol-generating procedures.

“I have to to get staff fitted for them, so I need to know what sort of rules we are following, as well as can we access enough of it,” Potter said. “I cannot fathom why detailed and robust guidance is so late in coming out. My fear is that there are people who are unsure on what the guidance should be.”

Jonty Clark, the chief executive of the Beckmead Trust, which specialises in support for traumatised young people with social, emotional and mental health issues as well as autism and challenging behaviour, said the sector was entering “uncharted territory”. He said “absolute terror” had been felt by many children and young people who had been deprived this year of the routine and support they relied on.

Planning at the trust, which operates at eight sites in south London, and an alternative provision school in Harlow, Essex, has included increasing cleaning, shorter lessons and more breaks. But it has also had to remove tools such as Blu Tack, which is used for sensory reasons, and to halt soft play.

Clark said: “A huge challenge for us also is that we have to hold the children when we do physical interventions, and some of the families we work with are quite anxious because those situations will inevitably arise.”

For such interventions, the school had been advised to use visors, rather than face masks, to maintain the intuitive communication of facial expressions.

“For us it’s going to be the usual cycle of anxiety for our children – just to the power of ‘N’ – because they are always anxious about coming back to school,” Clark said. “We have that ski jump every year, in terms of behavioural incidents, but we are confident we will get there.

“We have a wonderful group of staff who are committed to the kids and are desperate to see them again. There’s just the unknown: how long is this going to go on for?”

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Notes from the Field: CDC Polio Surge Response to Expanding Outbreaks of Type 2 Circulating Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus — Africa and Philippines, September 2019–March 2020 | Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

[Open Access] [August 28, 2020 / 69(34);1182–1183]

Opening Paragraph:

In April 2016, a resolution by all members of the 68th World Health Assembly* in coordination with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) resulted in the removal of the Sabin-strain type 2 oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) component from all immunization activities to avert outbreaks of type 2 circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV2). In the first quarter of 2016, house-to-house supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) with trivalent OPV (containing Sabin-strain types 1, 2 and 3) were conducted in 42 at-risk countries in an effort to close type 2 immunity gaps in countries with chronically weak routine childhood immunization systems. However, the quality of SIAs in some countries was inadequate, and pockets of unimmunized and underimmunized children remained. Sabin-strain monovalent OPV type 2 (mOPV2) was then successfully used in response to many cVDPV2 outbreaks; however, some outbreaks in sub-Saharan Africa were not promptly controlled and spread to other countries. Where mOPV2 SIA quality was low, prolonged Sabin-strain type 2 circulation allowed new cVDPV2 outbreaks to emerge. In 2019, 358 cVDPV2 cases were reported, representing a fourfold increase over the 71 cases reported in 2018 and more than tripling the number of countries with outbreaks, from five to 16. As of August 2, a total of 236 cVDPV2 cases in 17 countries have been reported in 2020. Among 33 cVDPV outbreaks reported during July 2018–February 2020, 31 (94%) were caused by cVDPV2.

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Podcast: Video: TWiV 658: Everyone needs a H.E.A.R.T. | This Week in Virolgy.

[August 30, 2020]

Daniel Griffin provides a clinical report on COVID-19, then we discuss CDC softening testing guidelines, Moderna vaccine phase I results in older people, Abbott’s $5 rapid antigen test, and reinfection with a distinct SARS-CoV-2 isolate, followed by listener email.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan DoveDickson Despommier, and Rich Condit

Guest: Daniel Griffin

Watch 'virtual roundtable'; discussion on YouTube video [2:22:41]:


Listen to Podcast via source article


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Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

Send your virology questions and comments to

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Philippines: DOH: 95% of polio vaccination target reached | Philippine Canadian Inquirer.

[August 30, 2020] [Philippine News Agency]

MANILA – The Department of Health’s (DOH) Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (SPKP) campaign continues its efforts across Mindanao, Central Luzon, and Southern Tagalog since resuming last July 20, 2020.

Launched in 2019 when the presence of the polio virus was first detected in the waterways of the National Capital Region (NCR), the next rounds of the SPKP were briefly put on hold due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

A highly infectious but preventable disease, polio is transmitted through the fecal-oral route or through ingesting water or food contaminated with the poliovirus, usually in areas with poor sanitation and poor personal hygiene

In response to the polio outbreak, the DOH has been working closely with local government units, Civil Society Organizations, development partners and other key stakeholders including community members.

“Yan ang susi sa ating tagumpay — and pagtutulungan ng lahat ng (That’s the key to our victory — and cooperation of everybody) stakeholders, what we call ‘whole-of-society’ approach,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire said in a press release issued on Saturday.

Because of the restrictions caused by Covid-19, special preparations like online orientations on polio vaccination and infection prevention and control guidelines and meticulous planning with field teams are being held to ensure a safe and quality immunization campaign.

In the first quarter of 2020, the DOH has immunized over 95 percent of the target children to fully stop the spread of polio. As shared by the World Health Organization (WHO), to successfully stop the outbreak, 95 percent coverage for every round of immunization must be met.

Since resuming the SPKP campaign, 3,408,241 children were vaccinated in Mindanao.

Due to Covid-19 limitations, 1,093,317 out of the 1,347,005 target or only 81.16 percent were vaccinated in Central Luzon.

Meanwhile, in Calabarzon, Laguna province excluding Calamba City and Pakil tallied 81.71 percent in phase 1 (250,577 children out of 306,670 target).

Round 2 of the SPKP will be from September 14-27, targeting 1,185,005 children in the three (3) provinces (Laguna, Cavite, Rizal) in Calabarzon.

“To respond to the delay in barangay immunizations caused by the challenges of the pandemic and the demand for health care workers, we are training volunteers to do vaccinations against polio in close coordination with local community leaders in order to synchronize efforts for both polio and Covid,” said Dr. Maria Wilda Silva, DOH National Immunization Program Manager.

“Aside from vaccination, surveillance is a very important factor in keeping polio at bay. The implementation of the SPKP campaign includes the immunization of children five years old and strengthening of the acute flaccid paralysis surveillance,” she added.

This close partnership with LGUs has allowed for a strong surveillance-driven and proactive case finding approach that includes health information dissemination, capacity building, and filling in the resource gaps for communities most in need.

This best case practice has acted as the blueprint for the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) protocol currently in place for the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With the CODE, we are working and collaborating with our partner LGUs and the people in our communities. If we were able to prevent polio and protect our children, we can also protect our families from Covid-19. We just need to do our part by following the minimum health standards, immediately isolating ourselves when we have symptoms and not wait for confirmation that we are Covid-19-positive, and cooperating with Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams who go house to house,” Vergeire said. (PR)

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Africa declared free from wild polio — but vaccine-derived strains remain | Nature.

[28 AUGUST 2020]

No new cases of wild poliovirus have been recorded on the continent since 2016, but other types of the virus persist.

NICEF health consultant Hadiza Waya tries to immunise a child during vaccination campaign against polio, Nigeria.

A health worker immunizes a child during a polio vaccination campaign in northwest Nigeria in 2017.Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty

Giorgia Guglielmi writes:

Africa is free from wild poliovirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 25 August — leaving just two countries where the virus remains endemic.

The Africa Regional Certification Commission, an independent body responsible for overseeing the eradication of polio, has certified that all 47 countries in the WHO’s Africa Region have eradicated the virus after a long programme of vaccination and surveillance. There is no cure for the disease, which can cause irreversible paralysis and can be fatal if breathing muscles are affected, but vaccination can protect people for life.

The certification is a “historic” achievement, says Pascal Mkanda, coordinator of the polio-eradication programme at the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

A region is certified as free of wild polio after three years have passed without the virus being detected in any of its countries. Africa’s last case of wild polio was recorded four years ago in northeast Nigeria. As recently as 2012, the country accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide. The challenges faced by those working to free Nigeria from wild polio included widespread misinformation about the vaccine, conflict and the difficulty of tracking nomadic populations that risked spreading the disease during their migrations, says Chima Ohuabunwo, an epidemiologist at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Ohuabunwo, who coordinated a project to support polio eradication in Nigeria, says that engaging with traditional and religious leaders was crucial in the effort to persuade parents to vaccinate their children.

Infographic: Polio today: Map showing worldwide polio cases recorded between August 2010 and 2020.

Source: WHO

Despite the eradication of wild poliovirus, Africa’s fight against polio isn’t over. In many countries, vaccination is done with oral drops containing a weakened form of the poliovirus, which sometimes mutates into a strain that can spread in under-immunized communities and cause paralysis. Since August 2019, more than 20 countries worldwide have reported cases of vaccine-derived polio (see ‘Polio today’). Because these outbreaks can usually be brought under control with further immunization, countries should continue to vaccinate as many people as possible, Ohuabunwo says.

Wild polio cases have decreased globally by more than 99% since 1988, but the virus is still endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which report dozens of cases every year. To eradicate the disease, the two countries should focus on peace-building, reducing vaccine hesitancy, and boosting basic medical services and routine immunizations, says Zulfiqar Bhutta, a public-health researcher at Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan.

Ohuabunwo hopes that the experience drawn from Africa will help to support eradication efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, because until wild polio is wiped out worldwide, all countries are at risk of a resurgence. “Polio anywhere is polio everywhere,” he says.

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