First virus case confirmed
The country yesterday announced its first case of COVID-19, as the pandemic continued to spread to previously untouched Pacific island nations. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi called for calm in the nation of 200,000 after confirming that a man who arrived in the country on Friday last week had tested positive while under quarantine. “We now have one case and will be added to the countries of the world that have the coronavirus,” the mask-wearing leader said during a televised address.
Graduates mark clashes
Dozens of Chinese University of Hong Kong students yesterday turned their graduation ceremony into a march to commemorate protests last year that included clashes with police. Wearing black graduation robes and Guy Fawkes masks, the students marched across the campus. They said that they were organizing their own graduation after the university decided to hold one online. “I want to pass on the spirit ... so the next generation of students doesn’t forget what happened,” said Philip, a social sciences graduate, who declined to give his last name.
Climate emergency declared
Lawmakers yesterday declared a climate emergency in a symbolic vote aimed at increasing pressure for action to combat global climate change after the government last month committed to a firm timetable for net-zero emissions. With the vote by parliament’s lower chamber, the world’s fifth-biggest carbon emitter joins fellow G7 members Britain, Canada and France in similar resolutions. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last month announced that the country would aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, a major shift for the world’s third-largest economy.
Lawmaker bites raw fish
A former fisheries minister bit into a raw fish at a news conference in Colombo on Tuesday to encourage sales following a slump during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fish sales in the country have cratered after a major COVID-19 cluster emerged at the Central Fish Market on the outskirts of the capital last month. “Our people who are in the fisheries industry cannot sell their fish. People of this country are not eating fish,” said Dilip Wedaarachchi, gesticulating with a medium-sized fish. Wedaarachchi, an opposition lawmaker, served as fisheries minister until last year. “I brought this fish to show you. I am making an appeal to the people of this country to eat this fish. Don’t be afraid. You will not get infected by the coronavirus,” he said, before taking a bite out of the whole fish.
Santa candles get masks
A candlemaker has come up with a novel way of highlighting the need to wear masks to curb the spread of COVID-19: putting them on his Santa candles. Alexios Gerakis in the northern town of Thessaloniki has made candles of Father Christmas wearing a big blue mask over his white beard. “Because of the times, we are trying to convey a message that health comes first, then everything else,” Gerakis, 37, told Reuters television. “Christmas is a bit of a question mark for all of us this year I think, we don’t know how this will end. We have to be optimistic, but it’s uncertain what will happen.” His snowmen also sport masks.
Iota’s death toll rises
Iota’s death toll on Wednesday rose to more than 30 after the storm unleashed mudslides, smashed infrastructure and left thousands homeless in its wake across Central America. Nicaragua has so far suffered the highest death toll from Iota’s sweep on Monday: 18. Another 14 were killed in Honduras, including five members of the same family whose home was swept away in a landslide. Two people died on Colombia’s offshore islands, two more were recorded dead in Guatemala, and one woman was killed in an indigenous community in Panama. By early on Wednesday, Iota had dissipated over El Salvador, but the storm’s torrential rains remained a threat. Salvadoran presidential official Carolina Recinos said timely evacuations prevented the country suffering a higher toll.
Canaries’ migrants increase
The government was under fire on Wednesday over its handling of a surge in migrant arrivals on the Canary Islands, which has overwhelmed local authorities’ capacity to house them. Conservative opposition parties called for Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska to resign after police late on Tuesday allowed about 200 migrants to leave a camp set up in Arguineguin port on the island of Gran Canaria. The migrants were later bussed to the capital, but left there with nowhere to go. Rights groups say about 2,000 people have been sleeping at the port, many in the rough.
Virus toll passes 250,000
Deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday passed a quarter of a million people to reach 250,426, as New York City announced it would close schools to battle a rise in infections. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s 1,800 public schools would revert to remote learning beginning yesterday after the city recorded a seven-day average positivity rate of 3 percent. “We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19,” he said.
Judge blocks White House
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the federal district court in Washington on Wednesday ruled that President Donald Trump’s administration could not immediately expel immigrant minors who arrive alone at the border, a policy the White House said was necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sullivan ruled in a preliminary injunction that unaccompanied children arrested at the border with Mexico could not be deported without due process. The ruling came as part of a lawsuit brought by rights groups on behalf of affected minors. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped a Guatemalan teenager challenge the rule, 13,000 minors have since been sent back to Mexico or their countries of origin without being able to file asylum requests.
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,
MISINFORMATION: The digital giant said there were ‘numerous’ offending videos that were removed from the channel, which has 1.85 million subscribers Sky News Australia has been banned from uploading content to YouTube for seven days after contravening its medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos that denied the existence of COVID-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin. The ban was imposed by the digital giant on Thursday afternoon, the day after the UK’s Daily Telegraph ended Alan Jones’ regular column amid controversy about his COVID-19 commentary, which included calling the New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant a village idiot on his Sky News program. YouTube has not disclosed which Sky News program the videos were from, but said there
Dozens of Afghan soldiers fled across the border into northwestern Pakistan after their border post was overrun, apparently by the Taliban, the Pakistani army said on Monday. The statement said 46 members of the Afghan forces, including five officers, slipped across the border late on Sunday near the Pakistani border town of Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Afghan soldiers “have been provided food, shelter and necessary medical care as per established military norms,” the Pakistani army said, adding that it had informed Afghan authorities of the development. The Afghan government on Monday denied its troops crossed into Pakistan. “This issue is