Minister tests for COVID-19
Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has tested positive for COVID-19 and might have caught it at a meeting with his EU counterparts on Monday, a spokeswoman for the ministry said yesterday. Schallenberg’s infection raises the prospect that the EU Foreign Affairs Council was a so-called super-spreader event. His Belgian counterpart Sophie Wilmes on Friday said she was going into self-isolation with suspected symptoms. Schallenberg also attended a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, but cabinet members wore masks, the spokeswoman said.
Whales stranded on beach
Rangers and volunteers were yesterday attempting to rescue 25 whales stranded on a beach on the North Island, the Department of Conservation said. A pod of about 40 whales was sighted swimming close to the shore in shallow muddy water early yesterday before some of them were stranded, the department said in a statement on its Facebook account. The rest remained offshore, but in shallow waters. “We appreciate the public’s concern but at this stage NO FURTHER HELP IS NEEDED,” it said. The next high tide was expected yesterday evening. The whales were stranded on a beach in the Coromandel Peninsula. Late last month, several hundred whales died in shallow waters off the Australian coast in one of the world’s biggest mass whale strandings.
Man faces life for cocaine
A Sydney man faces life in prison after police intercepted cocaine worth A$248 million (US$175.61 million) concealed in frozen fruit products from Brazil. Federal Police and Border Force officers on Friday seized 552kg of the drug hidden in pallets of banana pulp and branded with koala pictures in Sydney. Police said that Mark De Hesselle collected 139 boxes of the pulp and removed the drugs. He has been charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs and possessing a commercial quantity of unlawfully imported border-controlled drugs. Both offenses carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Mass vaccinations planned
India is identifying 300 million people who will receive the initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Times of India reported yesterday. Priority would be given to workers in high-risk sectors such as police, healthcare, sanitation, elderly people and those with co-morbidities, the report said, citing officials it did not identify. The shots, which would include a booster dose, are planned for the initial phase once a vaccine is approved for use, according to the report. The beneficiaries of the vaccine in the first phase would receive an estimated 600 million doses and the implementation plan aims to cover more than 23 percent of the population, the report said. India added 62,212 new cases, taking the total infections in the country to 7.43 million as of yesterday, government data shows.
Forces clash in Borno
Soldiers fighting an insurgency in the restive north have clashed with the Islamic State group’s affiliate in the region, a security source said on Friday. The Islamic State West Africa Province said it had killed 30 soldiers on Thursday, in a statement that could not be independently verified. A security source said that there had been clashes near the village of Doksa, in the Borno State, where the army has launched fresh military operations.
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible adult population within just seven days, the Bhutanese Ministry of Health said on Tuesday. The tiny country, wedged between India and China and home to nearly 800,000 people, began giving out second doses on Tuesday last week in a mass drive that has been hailed by the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as “arguably the fastest vaccination campaign to be executed during a pandemic.” Bhutan grabbed headlines in April when its government said it had inoculated about the same percentage of eligible adults with the first dose
African nations should build capacity to produce vaccines on the continent and work with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the raw materials needed to produce the inoculations are available, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. While a waiver on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights that is being discussed at the WTO is seen as a way to improve the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s least inoculated continent, Okonjo-Iweala said that only a handful of African countries have the capacity to produce the life-saving drugs. “There [are] a handful of countries — maybe Tunisia, Morocco to some extent,
For almost 500 years, the arch that connects the largest Gothic cathedral in the world with its Renaissance sacristy has offered visitors a sumptuous, if little glimpsed — and even less studied — vision of religious bounty. The 68 beautifully carved plates of food that adorn the archway in Seville’s cathedral offer rather more than bread and wine. There are pigs’ trotters and wild strawberries, aubergines, clams and oysters. There are peaches, radishes, a skinned hare with a knife by its side, a squirrel served on a bed of hazelnuts and a plate of lemons across which a small snake slithers. There
‘LIBERATE HONG KONG’: The prosecution argued that the slogan was in the tradition of rallying cries for secession dating back to the Qin and Qing dynasties Three Hong Kong judges are to rule tomorrow whether the protest slogan: “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times” is a call for secession when they deliver a verdict on charges against a man arrested at a demonstration last year. The landmark ruling could have long-term implications for how a Beijing-imposed National Security Law against secession, terrorism, subversion and collusion with foreign forces reshapes the territory’s common law traditions, some legal scholars say. Democracy advocates say that a ruling to outlaw the slogan would tighten limits on free speech. The slogan was last year chanted during democracy protests, posted online, scrawled on walls,