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The head of the World Health Organization says the world is “on the brink of a moral catastrophic failure” for its unequal sharing of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Addressing a WHO executive board meeting in Geneva on Monday, Executive Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is “not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries.”
“More than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries. Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country — not 25 million, not 25,000 — just 25,” he said.
Tedros said if rich countries do not share COVID-19 vaccines with poor countries, “this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods.”
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He said that ultimately, a “me-first approach” in distributing vaccines “will only prolong the pandemic.”
Later Monday, the White House confirmed that U.S. President Donald Trump had lifted coronavirus-related travel bans on most non-U.S. citizens arriving from much of Europe and Brazil, beginning January 26.
“This action is the best way to continue protecting Americans from COVID-19 while enabling travel to resume safely,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
However, President-elect Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, responded a few minutes later on Twitter, saying: “On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
New guidelines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, set to take effect January 26, will require all air passengers entering the U.S. to provide a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight.
Also Monday, an independent panel reviewing the global handling of the COVID-19 pandemic criticized both the World Health Organization and China for their response to the virus.
The panel of experts led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in an interim report that WHO should have declared an international emergency sooner than it did on January 30.
The panel also said China could have applied public health measures more strongly in January. The panel will present its completed report in May.
Earlier Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed to forge ahead with preparations to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer, despite a surge in coronavirus infections in the country.
“We will press ahead with preparations, with determination of building watertight anti-infection measures and holding an event that can bring hope and courage to the world,” Suga said in a speech to Parliament.
A recent surge in cases in Japan has forced the government to close its borders to nonresident foreigners and to declare a state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo.
Recent media polls in Japan show about 80% of the Japanese public think the Olympics will not or should not be held this year.
The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed once because of the pandemic, having originally been scheduled for summer 2020.
In the Czech Republic, health officials say the fast-spreading coronavirus variant first identified in Britain has been detected in the country. Health Minister Jan Blatny said the variant accounts for about 10% of the samples tested. He did not say how many samples were genetically sequenced.
Several variants of the coronavirus have been detected around the world, including ones first identified in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.
Health officials in Brussels say the variant first detected in Britain has begun spreading in Belgium following more cases reported there.
“The variant has settled into our country,” virologist Marc Van Ranst told HLN network.
“Like in other nations, it is getting traction,” he added.
In Switzerland, authorities have placed two hotels in the skiing resort town of St. Moritz under quarantine and ordered all guests to be tested for the coronavirus after a person tested positive for the coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa.
In Italy, officials reported that the country’s daily caseload of coronavirus infections dropped below 10,000 on Monday. Officials confirmed 8,825 new cases.
French health officials began a campaign Monday to vaccinate people older than age 75. They say more than half a million people have registered to get the first of two vaccine shots by mid-February.
Chinese officials Monday recorded more than 100 new cases for the sixth consecutive day. Reuters news agency reported more than 29 million Chinese are now under strict lockdown to control the spread of the virus.
In the United States, the death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 398,000, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, the highest toll in the world.
Brazil and India follow the United States in COVID-19 deaths with more than 209,000 and 152,000, respectively.
Brazil approved two vaccines for emergency use against the coronavirus Sunday as some of its hospitals grappled with an oxygen shortage. (VOA)
As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.
According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.
Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.
Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.
As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.
Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.
Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.
Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.
Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.
Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.
Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.
Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.
The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.
To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.
Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.
The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.
The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.
The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.
Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.
The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.
When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.
"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.
"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.
Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.
On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.
Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.
Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.
The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.
The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.
"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.
"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.
ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.
"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.
"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.
"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."
"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.