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Lessons for Africa from devastating Mauritius oil spill

The shipwreck of the MV Wakashio has caused one of Mauritiuss worst environmental catastrophes and its devastating impact is expected to last for decades. Over 1 000 tonnes of fuel oil leaked into pristine Mauritian waters, covering the nearby shore in toxic sludge and immersing the ecosystem in a desperate struggle for survival. This environmental crisis couldnt have occurred at a worse time for Mauritius. The spill will seriously impede the recovery of a Mauritian economy highly dependent on coastal tourism and already battered by COVID-19 travel restrictions. Mauritius and other African states need to promptly review their contingency strategies and response capacities so we can start positing immediate lessons to be learnt. The national and international response to the MV Wakashio crisis was commendable. France, India, Japan and the International Maritime Organization cooperated to support local Mauritian efforts in a race against time to pump out the fuel from the vessel, whic..

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More than 100 children killed and injured as violence intensifies in Ituri, DRC – Save the Children

Kinshasa, August 13 – At least 83 children have been killed in the northern province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo between April and July. Save the Children is horrified by the recent escalation of extreme violence, in which also at least 17 children were injured and 12 were sexually abused. In the same period, around sixty schools were attacked, and 17 health facilities – two of which were supported but the charity. “The situation for children is getting worse by the day, in a conflict they should not have a part in. We need to ensure children can return to school, that they and their families can go to health facilities if they need to, and that they are protected”, said Malik Allaouna, Save the Children country director in DRC. “We need more resources, and call upon the international community and the Government of DRC to help alleviate the suffering of these children. We are asking all involved parties to grant unhindered access to humanitarian workers, so they ca..

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Creepy technologies invade European post-pandemic workplaces

Washington, D.C., June 9, 2020 (PAHO)—The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa F. Etienne, said preparing for winter and hurricanes is critical to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Americas. With more than 3.3 million cases of COVID-19 in the region and many areas reporting exponential rises in cases and deaths, “We are concerned by data showing the virus surging in new places that had previously seen a limited number of cases,” Etienne said in a press briefing today. The PAHO Director noted, “In South America, our response to the pandemic will be impacted by the arrival of winter, while hurricane season will complicate our efforts in North and Central America, and especially in the Caribbean.” Preparing for respiratory infections during winter Winter, now starting in South America, “fuels respiratory infections—like seasonal influenza and pneumonia—that can rapidly spread in colder climates and as more people gather indoors to stay warm,” she said. “This..

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GCO responds to Amnesty report on non-payment of salaries by stadium contractor

Office on Wednesday issued a statement in response to an Amnesty report accusing a company operating at the Al Bayt Stadium of not paying salaries to workers. Here is the full statement: In September 2019, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA) was made aware, by the Supreme Committee of Delivery & Legacy, of delayed salary payments by Qatar Meta Coats W.L.L. The company was financially sanctioned, and operations were suspended until all outstanding salaries were paid. Financial insecurity between November 2019 and April 2020 meant that Qatar Meta Coats workforce received irregular salary payments during this period. In May 2020, the issue was partially resolved and all salary payments from February to May were paid in full by the company. There are a small number of outstanding salary payments preceding February, which will be resolved in the coming days. Qatar Meta Coats was recently sold and ADLSA is overseeing the activities of the new ownersh..

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Dozens dead in Pakistan as PIA plane plunges into Karachi houses

Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 85 people have been killed after an Airbus A320 passenger airliner crashed into a residential neighbourhood while on approach to the airport in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, officials say. At least two male passengers of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi survived the crash on Friday, a health ministry spokeswoman told Al Jazeera. There were at least 91 passengers on board the plane, according to an official passenger manifest shared with Al Jazeera by the officials. Health ministry spokeswoman Meeran Yousuf told Al Jazeera by telephone that 85 people have died, with 53 bodies kept at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi’s largest government hospital, and 32 at Civil Hospital Karachi, another major state-run hospital. Yousuf said the two survivors were being treated at the hospitals in Karachi, while 19 bodies have been identified so far. At least six people who were on the..

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UK to introduce quarantine for international arrivals from June 8

Britain will introduce a 14-day quarantine for travellers arriving from abroad from June 8, interior minister Priti Patel said, with the government warning that anyone breaking the rules would face a fine or prosecution. All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will have to self-isolate and provide details of where they will be staying under the plans, which were criticised by airlines, business groups and politicians alike. “Now we are past the peak of this virus, we must take steps to guard against imported cases triggering a resurgence of this deadly disease,” Patel said at a news conference. “We are not shutting down completely. We are not closing our borders.” Those who breached the quarantine in the United Kingdom could be fined 1,000 UK pounds ($1,218), and spot checks would be carried out by health and border officials. The quarantine will not apply to those arriving from the Republic of Ireland, nor to freight drivers, medical professionals or seasonal agr..

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Trump predicts coronavirus vaccine by years end, vows plague will pass

As some states loosen lockdown restrictions in a bid to set the nation’s battered economy on the road to recovery, President Trump endorsed a state-by-state approach while predicting at a Fox News virtual town hall on Sunday that a coronavirus vaccine could be available by December. “I think we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year,” Trump told the moderators, Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, saying he was “very confident” in the assessment. “We’ll have a vaccine much sooner rather than later.” Asked by MacCallum if he was concerned about the potential risks of accelerating a vaccine and human trials, Trump responded: “No, because they’re volunteers. They know what they’re getting into … They want to help the process.” That timeline was dramatically ahead of previous estimates from both public and private sector experts at the outset of the pandemic, which had said a vaccine could take up to 18 months, if not longer. But, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Inst..

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Italy eases out of lockdown as 4 million people head back to work

By Matt Bradley, Bill O’Reilly, Yuliya Talmazan and Lidia Sirna[contfnewc] ROME — Italy is turning “a new page,” the countrys prime minister said ahead of some 4 million Italians returning to work Monday as Europes longest coronavirus lockdown eased. “A new page is beginning, and we will have to write it together with faith and responsibility,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Italians in a Facebook post Sunday. “The risks of having more infections are numerous, but we will be able to avoid them with responsibility.” [contfnewc] With factories and construction sites reopening, the government is enforcing new rules for traveling on public transportation by marking available seats on buses and subways. People flow out of San Giovanni subway station in Rome on Monday as lockdown restrictions are relaxed. Cecilia Fabiano / AP Italians will also have the chance to feel the fresh air with parks and public gardens for the first time in eight weeks. They will be able to travel locally to..

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Coronavirus: UK hospital trials new treatment drug

BBC:A new drug developed by UK scientists to treat Covid-19 patients is being trialled at University Hospital Southampton. Developed by UK bio-tech company Synairgen, it uses a protein called interferon beta, which our bodies produce when we get a viral infection. Initial results from the trial are expected by the end of June. There are currently few effective treatments for coronavirus with doctors relying on patients’ immune systems. What is the new drug? Interferon beta is part of the body’s first line of defence against viruses, warning it to expect a viral attack, explains Richard Marsden, chief executive of Southampton-based Synairgen. He says the coronavirus seems to suppress its production as part of its strategy to evade our immune systems. The drug is a special formulation of interferon beta delivered directly to the airways when the virus is there, with the hope that a direct dose of the protein will trigger a stronger anti-viral response even in patients whose immune ..

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Coronavirus stokes Middle East boiling points

BBC:The Middle East has many reasons to fear the coronavirus pandemic, but it has one big advantage when it comes to resisting it. Most people in the region are young. A rough average is that at least 60% are under the age of 30. That makes them less susceptible to developing Covid-19, the illness that has killed so many people in countries with older populations. Most governments in the region saw what was happening elsewhere and had time to impose curfews and social distancing measures. But that is where the Middle East’s advantages end. Years of strife in the world’s least stable region have left weaknesses that the pandemic is sure to deepen. Medical capabilities vary widely. The best hospitals in Israel are as good as any in the world. The healthcare systems in Yemen, Syria and Libya – never strong – have been severely damaged, and in places destroyed, by years of war. Yemen was already in the grip, the UN said, of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Now it has cases of Co..

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