Australian Museum crowdsourcing website DigiVol sees spike in volunteers during COVID-19

The coronavirus lockdown has had a curious effect on the Australian Museum collections in Sydney.

While the doors were shut and visitors were no longer able to see, say, a creepy crawly from 1929, the museum’s crowdsourcing website DigiVol exploded with volunteers.

DigiVol was developed by the museum in collaboration with the Atlas Of Living Australia to help it and other institutions worldwide digitise and analyse their collections.

Thousands of volunteers, or citizen scientists as they are sometimes called, have recorded information about collections ranging from specimen labels and scientific documents to images of animals captured by field cameras.

Since the website was launched in 2011, 4.4 million items from the museum and other institutions have been analysed by volunteers.

Two million of those have been submitted since March.

Volunteers transcribed field notes written between 1975 and 1993 by butterfly collector Graeme D Rushworth.(Supplied: Australian Museum)

“People have more time on their hands with not being able to get out and about,” said Paul Flemons, creator and manager of DigiVol.

“It gives people something to do every day that is structured, particularly at this time during COVID-19.

“It’s something where they are interacting with other people and making a contribution.”

The highest number of transcriptions in a single month occurred in June, with more than 500,000 being completed.

Can you spot a dunnart?

In the first year of DigiVol, less than 100 citizen scientists took part.

Today, there is a global network of 7,522 volunteers aiding researchers and scientists with their work.

Camera image of a dunnart on Kangaroo Island
Scientists need help recording when the critically endangered dunnart is caught on camera.(Supplied: SA DEW)

Expeditions or projects for which people can volunteer range from transcribing 1958 Finnish/Latin labels on botanical prints for the National History Museum of Utah, to one of the more popular activities — spotting animals in images captured by field cameras.

One such project is the Kangaroo Island Dunnart Survey, which asks volunteers to help record native and feral species in thousands of images.

Researchers are trying to understand survivor populations to aide the recovery effort following the summer bushfires.

“To see many of these animals, like marsupials which usually come out at night, is such an exciting thing,” Mr Flemons said.

“It’s a very rewarding thing to do.

“The number one importance is that they [citizens] are making a difference.”

More than a hobby

Volunteers like Ron Lovett have spent countless hours taking photographs of the Australian Museum’s specimens and transcribing information on the DigiVol website.

He is the longest serving volunteer and since 2011 has spent at least 10 hours a week working with the collections.

Photograph of a dragon fly specimen
A dragonfly specimen from the Australian Museum digitised for the world to see.(Supplied: Ron Lovett/Australian Museum)

“What we do is aiding the scientist to do their work, and it means the specimens don’t have to be handled as much,” Mr Lovett said.

“All the notes and diaries taken by scientists back in the 1800s are there [online] now for people to study because they’ve been transcribed.”

Mr Lovett is one of the original 12 volunteers who signed up to digitise the museum’s collection nine years ago.

Eleven are still with the team, which now boasts 65 volunteers who go onsite to the museum each week to take photographs and upload them to DigiVol for analysis.

“I really enjoy it and I’ve really missed it because of the lockdown,” Mr Lovett said.

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Motorbike enthusiasts gather in South Dakota despite COVID-19 spike

An annual biker event takes place over 10 days in Sturgis, South Dakota. Even as health officials warned of a major coronavirus spike, around 250,000 bikers gathered at the event.

“We come out here, and we express our freedom, our American right to be free, not wear a mask, not being told what to do,’ one biker said.

“This is pretty free out here. Just with all the COVID thing and everything in lockdown, it’s good to see it’s open and we are getting our country back to normal,” said another.

“I’m not scared of the virus, no. I’m counting myself as the 99% that won’t get it,” a further bike enthusiast added.

It’s the 80th anniversary of this large-scale rally in Sturgis, and a majority of attendees say they support President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

“I never see signs for Joe Biden here. Is that a coincidence? – (laughs) That’s kind of a Midwest thing probably,” one participant said.

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Spike in cases due to high daily tests, trend may continue for 45 days: Govt | India News

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NEW DELHI: With daily testing hitting a new high of 7.2 lakh a day, the government said more testing will result in a high number of daily positive cases even as officials said detection was helping manage the disease and the current trend of cases was expected to continue over the next month and a half or so.
A doubling rate of 20 days was helping ensure medical facilities were not overwhelmed and government sources said there was greater focus on tier II and III cities and towns where cases were being detected in increasing numbers. Efforts are on to work with high case load states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka to implement containment strategies and step up testing of sections of population seen to be at risk of exposure to the virus.
The daily count of new cases has been rising — it was 62,482 on August 6; 61,163 on August 7 and 65,410 on August
8. This was a function of more testing and reflected an evolving strategy which, given limited resources and an evaluation of risks, initially focussed on foreign travellers returning to India, sources said. The trend is likely to continue for several more weeks before a tapering off can be expected.
A total of 2.4 crore tests have been carried out so far with the increasing use of rapid antigen tests helping boost testing. “India has recorded the highest number of recoveries in a single day with 53,879 Covid-19 patients having recovered and discharged on Saturday. With this, the total number of recovered cases touched another high of 14,80,884 on Sunday. This is more than twice the number of active cases (6,28,747 Sunday),” a health ministry release said.
The difference between recovered and active cases, indicative of higher number of recoveries as compared to those either in hospitals or in home isolation, was 8,52,137 on Sunday. The case fatality rate has further fallen, touching 2% on Sunday. Sources said these indicatorswere positive signs though the trajectory of the Covid-19 curve will depend on implementation of testing and containment strategies along with people’s compliance on use of masks and observance of social distancing.
With concerns expressed over rapid antigen tests delivering a high number of false negatives, the government has advised states on proper procedures as collection of samples has to be done carefully with a nasal swab collected from deep inside the nostril with a 10 second rotation. Clinical observation of the tested person is also important besides following up a negative test with an RT-PCR test.
Overall, the number of recovered cases was at 2.4 times the active cases, which were all under medical attention either in home isolation or in hospitals. As per health ministry, with a higher number of recovered patients, the recovery rate, which has continued on its growth graph, stood at 68.7% on Sunday.
The government said 7,19,364 tests were carried out in the last 24 hours.

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Vets see 50 per cent spike in pet injuries

Australia’s pets — particularly dogs — are visiting the vet twice as much during the COVID-19 pandemic as they were before.

Veterinarians are seeing an increase in musculoskeletal injuries such as torn cruciate ligaments in dogs, consistent with over-exercising.

Dr Sam Jones from My Local Vet in Alexandra Hills in Brisbane’s southeast said it appeared business had increased significantly at veterinary practices around the country.

“There has been a 50 per cent increase in patients at veterinary practices across Australia,” Dr Jones said.

“Personally, I have my own theory: people have been working from home and they have more time with their pet, so they’re probably more inclined to exercise and be outdoors because there is a bit more flexibility.

“And when restrictions were strongly enforced (in Queensland) people potentially had more disposable income, so they were more inclined to get their pets checked out.”

But he warned there was a danger of owners spending more time with their pets, with an increase in injuries relating to extra exercising.

“Now that restrictions are easing people are out and about more exercising with their pets,” Dr Jones said.

“But we are seeing an increase in the number of musculoskeletal injuries from exercise and an increase in dogs with trauma to their nails and paw pads.”

He suggested another reason for the uptake in vet presentations could be that more people had bought or adopted a “fur baby” in the last few months.

“We saw a huge demand for rescue pets and people going out and buying more pets (during the pandemic) because people felt they could have one and give them the time they deserve while they were working from home,” he said.

While exercise is important for pets, Dr Jones warned owners to be wary of the side effects of potential over-exercising.

“We know you can kill a dog if you exercise it too much on a hot day, but heat comes with the territory,” he said.

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“The other thing is if you’re going to increase your level of activity, it’s like in humans you are going to need to factor in physio because of injuries, the same needs to be done with dogs.

“Dogs don’t really think about whether or not they should continue to jump around if they have horrendous injuries, they’re just living their best lives … dogs will push through pain and not show it.

“We rely on owners being aware of changes in behaviour, and if you are exercising your pet more, they will need more regular checks.”

So how much exercise should your dog be getting a day?

“If you can exercise your dog 20-30 minutes twice a day that will provide a level of exercise to encourage fitness,” Dr Jones said.

“Just as importantly, that provides stimulation they need to enrich their lives, which is so important.”

For those considering bringing a new pet into their family home, Dr Jones urges two “major things” be considered.

“You need to be aware of what is your necessary commitment to this pet to provide a good quality of life,” he said.

“You also need to consider what is your financial commitment to make sure this pet has adequate medical care.”

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Japan braces for coronavirus spike amid domestic travel campaign

Japan is bracing for a surge in the amount of coronavirus infections right after new day by day circumstances exceeded 1,000 for a 2nd straight working day, a week just after the start off of a nationwide vacation campaign to revive the tourism industry.

The state experienced 1,266 new scenarios on Thursday, according to a tally by nationwide broadcaster NHK, surpassing the previous file of 1,264, with bacterial infections spreading swiftly not only in Tokyo, but also in other areas which include remote islands.

Northern Japan’s Iwate prefecture, which had been the final-remaining prefecture cost-free from coronavirus infection, had its 1st scenarios on Wednesday, when the southern island of Okinawa experienced 44 infections, hitting a report for the third working day in a row.

Key Minister Shinzo Abe’s govt released a nationwide vacation campaign on July 22 that aimed to revive a battered tourism industry even with a resurgence in coronavirus scenarios.

Tokyo’s governor is looking at asking restaurants and karaoke parlours to near earlier in the evening in an endeavor to to prevent more spread of the virus.

Getty Visuals AsiaPac

A member of the World Well being Organization’s influenza panel explained the campaign was ill-timed, and it has created a problem for these who anxiety the spread of the virus but are in desperate have to have of small business.

“It is really turn out to be a routine for me to look at the number plates of vehicles to see no matter whether they arrive from outside the house the prefecture. I am not likely to lie, I get a little bit shocked when I see that someone’s viewing from far absent,” reported Keiko Tsukahara, the co-supervisor of an inn in the very hot springs city of Nikko, north of Tokyo.

“But we have experienced zero revenue for the previous couple months and we require buyers.”

Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita, on the other hand, purchased 21 city buildings and other metropolis-owned vacationer points of interest to be shut about the prolonged getaway previous weekend as he prioritised overall health above business.

The little city in northern Japan’s Aomori prefecture has only 1 clinic, with just 4 beds for patients with infectious disorders. It has so considerably reported no COVID-19 conditions.

“As we practical experience the second wave of conditions, it shouldn’t be a choice concerning our lives or the economic climate. Our only selection is regardless of whether we can safeguard and save lives,” stated Miyashita.

He additional that any travel subsidy programme should really have been rolled out at a later on phase when the problem experienced stabilised.

‘Clearly a mistake’

The WHO panel’s Norio Sugaya criticised the timing of Abe’s campaign.

“I’m all for supporting the tourism field … But we must not do that when infection is resurgent. The virus spreads as folks shift. This is obviously a slip-up,” Mr Sugaya said.

“Medical professionals will quickly be signalling the red light-weight. Hospitals will shortly be loaded, so will ICUs (intense treatment models).”

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urged shorter functioning hrs for places to eat which serve liquor and karaoke parlours upcoming thirty day period to deal with the latest spike in bacterial infections.

The metropolitan federal government will supply compensation of 200,000 yen ($1,900) to merchants that comply with its ask for to near at 10 p.m. from Monday until Aug. 31.

Apart from advertising and marketing domestic outings, Japan is gradually reopening to foreigners.

The authorities strategies to allow foreign learners and staff to return beginning Aug. 5, the overseas ministry said.

The measure will be used to some 90,000 individuals who remaining Japan ahead of their desired destination was named as a single of the 146 nations around the world from which Japan is banning visits, the ministry reported.

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Coronavirus live updates: Covid deaths cross 30,000 with record spike of 750 on Thursday : Mexico reports 370,712 total cases of coronavirus, 41,908 deaths (Reuters)

Deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic in India crossed 30,000 and India’s toll rose to the sixth highest in the world on Thursday, even as fresh cases surged to another new high, crossing 48,000 for the first time. Stay with TOI for the latest developments

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India reports biggest single-day coronavirus spike in excess of 40,000

India has registered 40,425 new coronavirus situations and 681 fatalities in a refreshing one-day document soar in the nation.

The new conditions on Monday put the total tally in India – among the worst-strike by the pandemic – at 1,118,043, the federal overall health ministry reported on its website.

The most recent deaths convey the complete fatalities to 27,497.

The COVID-19 fatality rate in India, the 2nd-most populous country in the earth, is at this time at 2.49 per cent.


The COVID-19 fatality fee in India, the 2nd-most populous place in the planet, is at present at 2.49 per cent, which is between the cheapest in the environment, the ministry mentioned.

The level was “progressively falling” owing to efficient medical management, containment methods and screening.

The restoration rate stood at 62.61 for each cent, with 700,087 folks acquiring fought again the sickness, it reported.

The price of bacterial infections has been growing at its swiftest rate following India began easing its lockdown in mid-May well. India has additional a million cases considering the fact that then.

At the identical time, India has ramped up tests with in excess of 250,000 assessments day-to-day and a full of 14 million tests so considerably.

With the the latest surge in instances, a number of locations like the IT hub of Bengaluru and the vacation resort point out of Goa have announced clean lockdowns and limits.

Nationwide money New Delhi and the financial hub of Mumbai emerged as the epicentres of the outbreak, while infections in the towns have proven a drop in the current times.

India is the country third worst hit by COVID-19. Its caseload lags powering only the United States, which has a lot more than 3.7 million situations, and Brazil with more than two million cases.

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