First documented coronavirus reinfection reported in Hong Kong
A man in his 30’s is reported to have become reinfected with coronavirus more than 4 months after his first diagnosis.
Hong Kong scientists say that the two strains of the virus are “clearly different”, making it the world’s first proven case of reinfection
The World Health Organization warns it is important not to jump to conclusions based on the case of one patient, and experts say reinfections may be rare and not necessarily serious. It is fully expected that the virus will mutate over time.
Usain Bolt tested positive for COVID-19 following his birthday celebrations.
Usain Bolt, world sprinting superstar, has tested positive for COVID-19 just days following his “big, mask-free” birthday party.
The Jamaican 100m and 200m sprint world record holder is said to be isolating at his home in Jamaica, and has so far not displayed any symptoms of the illness.
Main image: Hong Kong, November 2011, MojoBaron, Flickr Creative Commons
Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 5, 2020
Come Fly With Me
Virgin has unveilled designs for a new supersonic plane capable of travelling three-times faster than the speed of sound. A flight leaving London could reach Sydney in just 5 hours, though the jet would remain very exclusive, carrying only a handful of passengers, and is obviously not on 2020’s list of priorities. Back in the real world, uncertainty in the industry is causing Virgin huge financial worries, leading them to file for chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US this week, in the fear that cash reserves will dry up if a rescue deal isn’t struck on August 25th.
While demand for long haul flights looks very uncertain, short trips around Europe appear to be on the uptick, with budget airline Easy Jet laying on more flights to meet demand for holidays. This comes in spite of the extremely volatile and quick-changing travel guidance issued by governments. All this swivel-hips, flip-flop, u-turn madness has taken its toll on citizens, leading people to make their own decisions and take the risks into their own hands!
Departures and arrivals are still pretty much nonexistent in Australia, even for travel within its own shores, as lockdowns continue to intensify. In fact, our award for world’s strangest lockdown this week goes to Aussie state of Queensland which has banned People from travelling to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) where there are no cases
According to Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s first cruise sailing of 2020 departed Juneau on Saturday, carrying 30 crew and 37 passengers, for a weeklong voyage in Southeast Alaska. The cruise operators are planning a handful of additional voyages for the remained of 2020.
Tag; you’re it!
Singapore has introduced a tagging system to help assist in enforcing quarantine, whereby foreign visitors must wear a tagging device to ensure that they do not break the rules. Current rules dictate that only business and official travel is permitted to the country, subject to testing. It is reported that 2,200 vistors entered Singapore in June, down from 1.6 million the same month last year.
Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics
According to a report by the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 has provided the perfect opportunity for Suriname to identify its health industry’s shortcomings, and to put a plan in place to address them.
The International Finance Corporation’s (World Bank Group) new $4 billion financing platform will help increase the supply to developing countries of health supplies needed to fight the pandemic.
After months gone by with no coronavirus deaths, Vietnam have reported a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.
Main image: Melbourne Airport Flight Information… Non-existent! Pilot Productions
Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 24, 2020
Japan Launches Worlds Most Powerful Supercomputer To Find Cure
Japan’s new so-called ‘Fugaku’ supercomputer, which has this week been declared the most powerful in the world, is to be used to search for a potential cure for the coronavirus.
The machine is capable of performing 513 quadrillion complicated mathematical operations every second. Fugaku requires 28 megawatts to run – more than two Eurostar trains!
Although it won’t be fully operational until next year, the team leading the project have already used it to run simulations on how cough and sneeze droplets spread through office spaces and public transport.
The White House’s expert on infectious diseases has warned the US is experiencing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr Fauci has highlighted recent spikes in states such as Florida and Texas, which are largely reopening businesses despite reporting thousands of cases per day.
Dr Fauci’s comments come following President Trump’s apparent desire to slow testing in order to slow the reporting of new cases.
Speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday, the President remarked: “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” the president said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”
Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics
IMF expects global economic activity to decline by 5% in 2020, owing to the damage caused by large scale economic shut downs and the compromises that must be made by surviving businesses away from efficiency and in favour of heightened workplace safety and hygiene measures.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants in England will be allowed to reopen on 4 July.The government and the industry hope that gyms can reopen in mid-July, subject to health guidance.
A sharp increase in cases in Latin America in the second half of May led the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the Americas were the new centre of the pandemic. But there have also been new spikes in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Main image: Discover Supercomputer 3, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Flickr Creative Commons
Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 17, 2020
The Results Are In: Oxford Team Discover Existing Medication Capable of Helping COVID-19 Patients
In the quest to find a drug that can be used to treat the most unwell coronavirus patients, Oxford researchers have discovered that a cheap and widely available corticosteroid medicine called Dexamethasone cuts the risk of death by a third. Dexamethasone is used in the treatment of various illnesses involving inflammation in the body.
Chief investigator Prof Peter Horby said: “This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough.”
Brits Bring the Virus Back to New Zealand
Two travellers from the UK arrived in New Zealand and have subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. This follows a period of no-new-cases which last week meant that New Zealand could ease restrictions within their own borders. New Zealand’s Prime Minister has requested that the army keep a tighter control on the quarantine measures at the border.
Beijing Prepares to Contain Potential Second Outbreak
This week, Beijing has once again returned to a state of lockdown following 106 new cases which appear to have spread within the city’s largest wholesale market. City officials have contacted over 200,000 people in order to test them to help get the the bottom of how the virus has spiked again.
Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics
US Airlines have threatened to ban passengers who refuse to wear a face mask in a bid to encourage people to comply with government advice and to slow the spread of the virus. Figures suggest that more than a quarter of confirmed global cases have occurred in the USA.
France’s phased removal of lockdown restrictions was unexpectedly extended to Paris on Sunday, allowing cafes and restaurants in the capital to open their doors for trade so long as workers and patrons follow WHO guidelines of keeping a 1m distance from each other.
According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea and are unable to go home, while relief crews cannot be brought in.
The UK Chamber of Shipping said up to 2,000 – or around one in 13 – of the UK’s 25,750 seafarers were among the stranded.
In a letter written to Shipping Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the trade association has asked the UK government to sign up to and acknowledge the International Maritime Organisation COVID-19 guidance for personal protective equipment and for interactions between ship and shore-based personnel to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Getting them home is “increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension”, it adds.
Working at sea often entails consecutive shifts over weeks or even months with few days off, followed by a rest period of weeks or months between trips. While these seafarers are unable to return, work will resume even for those in need of a break.
Main image: Container ship leaving bay area, Derell Licht, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Summers
Tips For Coping During Lockdown
It would be fair to say that more of us than usual are facing stress and/or anxiety this month, and with looming uncertainty as to when we will return to normal, it is important to look after your wellbeing. The good news is that most of us have got plenty of time on our hands to take proper care of ourselves, but if you’re struggling for ideas we’ve put together a list of tips and resources for remaining calm and staving off Coronavirus anxiety – and dare we say – using this awkward time wisely!
John Krasinski of The Office has launched aYouTube channel aptly named “Some Good News“, covering any and all positive news that the world has to offer. Spare 30 minutes from your week (preferably minutes which you may have been spending ‘terror scrolling’), and check in with John every Monday for his mood boosting show.
The mental health tech sector has experienced a boom in the past month, with more and more people seeking help from online and app-based sources. App based services such as Better Help offer an affordable and easy way to access a professional ear to chew on. If you’d prefer to deal with your stressors on your own, services such as Headspace use meditation to build awareness alongside a healthy sense of perspective.
70’s cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70’s by Pilot Productions
Schedule video calls with loved ones
Whether its a quiz night, a cup of coffee and a chin-wag or a shared takeaway, utilise video calling to maintain meaningful connections with people you care about. Aside from the obvious boost this will provide to your mood, it will also give you the opportunity to take your mind off your own problems and check in with everyone else.
Set an allocated time every day where you turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet and close your laptop. Use this time to read, practice journalling, meditate or some other activity aside from your chores. Actively unwinding can help your frantic thoughts to slow down, inspire creativity and help you let go of factors which are beyond your control. Aside from the benefits of the activities themselves, less screen time will help slow down your consumption of negative information, give your eyes a break from harmful blue-light and help you recognise when you are simply scrolling because you are bored.
In most places, lockdown laws enable individuals to partake in an hour of physical activity each day. This is for good reason – exercise generates feel-good hormones! It’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air, vitamin D, and connect with nature. Don’t forget that walking counts as exercise too, and now would be a great time to take in some of your local sights!
If you cant go out, ensure to do something physical at home. Yoga is a great way to relax your body and mind. Isometric (such as a plank) and isotonic exercises (such as squats and push-ups) are great if you do not have much space and are confined to home.
Preparing and preserving your bedroom as a place for sleep can be very important when trying to minimise disruption to sleep! In the morning, make your bed and air your bedroom; and in the evening light a candle or spray some calming linen spray. Stay away from your bedroom until it is time for bed. Also, Mr. Sandman is not a fan of the blue-light from your phone either, so make sure to leave it aside for a restful nights’ kip!
Set a time for bed each night and stick to it, set an alarm each morning and avoid sleeping-in. Is your sleep pattern already busted? Try to move your bedtime and wake-up back by 10 minutes each day. Even so much as paying attention to your sleep pattern and making a concerted effort towards maintaining a routine will help you feel more in control.
Sleeping in a yurt… Pilot Productions
Make a zero-sum budget
Do you know where your money goes each month? Knowing where every penny has gone, and where every penny should be will help restore a sense of control in these financially stressful period. There are some fantastic online tools to help you draw up this budget, and many computers come with a pre-loaded budget templates!
If things aren’t looking too rosy, then don’t bury your head in the sand. As well as finding out if there are any state benefits which you may be entitled to receive, you should look to temporarily reduce your obligations where possible. Many lenders are offering payment holidays as well as adjustments to repayment schedules, so call your lenders and discuss ways to ease your situation. Remember, it is in their interest for you not to default! Institutions such as Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK can provide some clarity on where to find help, and help you seek it. In the US, assistance generally varies from state to state, so do some digging and find out if there is anything you can do to ease the burden for even a short period.
It is that time of year, after all. What better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning your house from top to bottom, and ‘putting winter away’. Having a clean and tidy environment in the spring time is important, especially when you’re spending so much time at home.
Clean out your closet
Take inventory of your closet! Set aside anything you no longer wear ready to donate it to a charity shop or a clothes bank. Alternatively, to generate some cash, you could sell them online! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”. Apply this principle to other cupboards, too. Perhaps you have a pile of paperwork stashed away that you’ve been meaning to sort through, old electronics which have been sat in a box collecting dust, or a bathroom cabinet full of lotions and potions – get rid of what you no longer want and organise what you do!
Get creative in the kitchen
Empty out your food cupboard and fridge and get creative! Not only will this help with efforts to cut down on your spending, but cooking can also be a great way to release some stress. There is a plethora of recipes using just about any ingredients on the internet, but we would recommend checking out our Ten Great Global Recipes for inspiration!
We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you’re done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons
Working from home
Pilot HQ’s tried and tested tips:
Stick to a routine: Clock in and out at roughly the same time each day where your role permits!
Make the most of not commuting: Go for a walk and/or eat a good breakfast!
Keep your work area as separate from your living area as possible: As tempting as it might be, taking your laptop to bed is not as productive as you think it is!
Take a lunch break!
Get dressed properly: Not just for that ever impending surprise video call, but getting dressed for work will help you focus on work, and keep work and home tasks separate.
Furloughed or on leave
Devote work-time to professional development or other activities which will help to enrich your career and and add value to your employers or your business. This is not limited to simply seeking out online courses; a more holistic approach to enrichment will enhance your life and your career. We love activities such as learning a language, or exploring the plethora of lessons that history has to offer. Why not check out our Study Guides to get a taste for what you might be interested in pursuing.
As much as finding gainful employment is your priority here, it may also be useful to take this time to reflect on your career so far to help determine what your next move might be. If you were already looking to make a change in your career, then there is literally no time like the present. Those who have lost their jobs could also engage in enriching activities to keep the mind as sharp as possible for when that interview finally comes your way.
Have you already engaged in any of the above, or do you have your own coping strategies? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
Main Image: Ned Kelly‘s First Home in Beveridge, Pilot Productions
Where in the Wild has the Coronavirus Come From?
Following the outbreak of Coronavirus which is currently spreading from its source in Asia accross the world, scientists are trying to figure out where it has come from, and exactly how it transferred from the animal kingdom to humans.
So far, scientists have ascertained that the virus has been transmitted inter-species – or that is has ‘host jumped’ – from animals to humans, making it a ‘Zoonotic’ virus. Whilst widely reported that this likely came from a bat, it has not been confirmed. Bats are believed to be the original carrier of the former SARS virus and of many other ‘coronaviruses’ due to their particular animal behaviours, such as living in large colonies and covering large distance by flight.
Providing that the virus was originally carried by bats, scientists believe that it unlikely that its first human transmission arose out of direct contact with the notoriously tricky-to-catch mammals. Rather, it is understood that the bats may have transmitted the disease among other wild species more likely to be handled by humans.
Pangolin, Adam Tusk, Flickr Creative Commons
In fact, it has been suggested by some that bats may have passed the virus on to pangolins, which are poached from the wild to be illegally trafficked to places where their scales and meat are either considered a delicacy, or a form of medicine. This black market trade is completely unregulated and so it would be difficult to trace the transaction where the transmission occurred. It is believed that of the many places that pangolins are trafficked to, Wuhan in China is one, and is also – perhaps coincidentally – where the virus first presented in humans.
Scientists are attempting to prove the truth of this scenario as they work to find wild animals carrying the virus but finding the sequence of events is “a bit of a detective story”, according to Prof Andrew Cunningham of Zoological Society London (ZSL).
Main Image: Ground Pangolin at Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, David Brossard, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Summers
Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research
7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.
The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.
Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.
The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.
This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.
The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.
Main Image: Emma Maersk, Roy, Flickr Creative Commons
Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025
Chinese bus and truck manufacturer Beiqi Foton Motor plans to put 200,000 ‘new energy’ vehicles on the road by 2025. The $2.6 billion (¥18 billion) initiative hopes to develop new road transportation vehicles with hybrid-electric, fully-electric, and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Hydrogen as fuel is created by the electrolysis of water, which splits the oxygen from the hydrogen. The electrolysis process can use wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, fossil fuels, biomass or nuclear energy to generate the electricity required in a ‘green’ manner.
The vehicles will mostly be used for commercial purposes, such as public transportation and road haulage, in a bid to improve air quality and help China to battle pollution in its economic and industrial hubs.
Beijing Air Pollution, Kentaro Iemoto, Flickr Creative Commons
Atmospheric Pollution is a well documented issue in China, and is estimated to be responsible for 1.6 million deaths a year. Many large national companies are beginning to make the commitment to developing greener practices to help combat the problem.
This level of commitment to innovation is a responsible and economically feasible way for industry leaders around the world to tackle some of the environmental damage caused by industrialisation. Environmental damage has largely been caused by ‘innovation’, but could be solved by it too.
China, despite being the worlds 4th largest producer of oil, produces just 5% of the world’s supply which is not enough to meet the demand of the nation. In 2017, China surpassed the United States as the worlds number one importer of oil. In the future, a move towards renewable energy and hydrogen as a source of fuel could see China’s crude oil consumption, among other fossil fuels, fall dramatically.
Main image: Toyota hydrogen fuel cell at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, Joseph Brent, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Summers
Rare Mouse-Deer Caught on Camera in Vietnam
One of our greatest pleasures is discovering cute, exotic animals that we never knew existed, and this Mouse-deer is no exception. Especially considering nobody has seen one since the 90’s!
‘Chevrotain’ otherwise known as mouse-deer (though not belonging to either family), are the smallest hoofed mammals in the world, originating in forests in South and South-East Asia, and forested parts of West Africa. The Silver-Backed Chevrotain is native to Vietnam and had not been sighted for around 30 years – until now.
The Vietnamese Chevrotain had made it onto the Global Wildlife Conservation’s 25 most wanted missing species list, with specialists unsure as to whether these creatures had become extinct.
Chevrotain originating in Asia can weigh between 0.7 and 8.0 kg. In other words, their size ranges from a small Guinea Pig up to a Jack Russell dog. They lack antlers or horns, but have long canine teeth used for fighting. Chevrotain live mostly on plants, live in couples and give birth to one (very cute) baby Chevrotain at at time.
Cameras were set in forested areas by zoologists in order to find out, and fortunately there were multiple sightings of the mousy-looking critter. The Silver-Backed Chevrotain is the first of 25 missing species that the organisation hopes to find.