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Delta COVID variant 60 percent more transmissible, UK gov’t says | Coronavirus pandemic News

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The variant first identified in India currently accounts for more than 90 percent of Britain’s new COVID-19 cases.

Health authorities in Britain have said the new Delta coronavirus variant is 60 percent more transmissible in households than the previous dominant Alpha variant that forced the United Kingdom to lock down in January.

The Delta variant, which first emerged in India, has caused a rise in cases in Britain, prompting questions about whether physical distancing restrictions will be lifted as planned from June 21.

New research on Friday from Public Health England “suggests that the Delta variant is associated with an approximately 60 percent increased risk of household transmission” compared with the Alpha variant first identified in southeast England.

So far there have been 42,323 identified cases of the Delta variant in the UK, according to Public Health England’s data, up from 29,892 on June 2. The variant currently accounts for more than 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases.

The Alpha variant caused a surge of COVID-19 cases in January before a mass vaccine campaign, leading to a three-month lockdown as hospitals were stretched to near-capacity.

The government has since ramped up its vaccine drive, and has now administered nearly 41 million first doses and nearly 29 million second doses to adults over 25.

This means 43 percent of the total population are fully vaccinated and 18 percent are half vaccinated.

But cases are rising again, with new daily infections hitting 7,393 on Thursday, a level not seen since February. More than 90 percent of new cases were of the Delta variant, the government said.

However, the number of patients in hospital remains low, at just more than 1,000 on Thursday, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said most in-patients are people who are unvaccinated.

The government said this suggested the vaccination programme is mitigating the effect of the Delta variant, urging the public to get both jabs.

Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said that “two doses provide significantly more protection” against the Delta variant than one.

The UK has reported 127,867 deaths from the virus, the highest toll in Europe.

Under the government road map, England plans to drop rules on numbers at social gatherings and allow large weddings and the reopening of nightclubs from June 21.

But officials have stressed that they are open to changing this date if the virus situation changes as many businesses push for full reopening.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to announce on Monday whether the planned lifting of restrictions, which would see an end to limits on social contact, can go ahead on time.

“We have to be really careful. We had a very big opening on the 17th of May where people could meet friends indoors, in a restaurant, in a pub, and socialise indoors as well,” Nadhim Zahawi, COVID-19 vaccines minister, told Times Radio.

“And I think it’s important that we look at the data very carefully over this weekend and then share it with the nation.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed: The Nobel Prize winner who went to war

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This feeling of marginalisation, particularly among the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, fuelled a wave of demonstrations. Mr Abiy, an Oromo himself, was promoted to the top job and immediately set about addressing concerns in a dizzying period of reforms.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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600 doses of stolen COVID-19 vaccines recovered at 2 private clinics

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Police have recovered 600 doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from two private pharmacies in Kampala. 10 suspects were also arrested in the two-day operation following a tip-off from a concerned citizen.    

A police officer, who was involved in the operation, intimated to URN that they carried out raids on First Pharmacy Mulago-Wandegeya and Victoria Pharmacy in Ntinda. He explains that they first sent operatives to both facilities under the disguise that they were travellers looking for Covid-19 vaccination and certificates and got assurance that the service was available.    

“We swiftly stormed these places in Wandegeya and Ntinda, and the stolen vaccines were found there and of course arrested some suspects from there,” he said.

He says that during the raid on First Pharmacy, they intercepted one of the employees who was running away with some materials in the bag.  

“We forced him to open the bag for searching. Upon opening, documents that looked like Covid-19 vaccination certificates dropped down,” he said.

He says that they searched the pharmacy where they recovered some exhibits and arrested some suspects. According to police, they also conducted another raid on Victoria Pharmacy, recovered several doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and arrested five suspects. 

Kampala Metropolitan deputy police spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire confirmed the arrests but declined to reveal the identities of the suspects. 

“It’s true about that operation intelligence in Bukoto, we found 600 doses of the vaccine, in these two pharmacies and also ministry of Health vaccination cards and other documents” said Owoyesigyire’’. 

He says the suspects are locked up at the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Kireka. According to police, similar operations are still ongoing after discovering that unscrupulous people stole Covid-19 vaccines from the ministry of Health storage facility and are now busy selling them to the public on the black market.

At a press conference held today, however, First pharmacy demanded an apology from the police, claiming no raid was conducted at their facility or vaccines recovered. 

More than 50 pe rcent of the 964,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines donated by Covax Facility and India have already been used. Recently, President Museveni in his televised address said that the government is preparing to get Johnson and Johnson vaccines from the USA and Cuba since India suspended exports. Unicef announced that another 170,000 doses would be arriving in the country in two weeks. 

 



Source – observer.ug

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Pakistan FM accuses previous gov’t of ‘mishandling’ Jadhav case | India News

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Shah Mehmood Qureshi says the bill passed by Parliament last week aims at bringing Pakistani laws in line with orders from the International Court of Justice.

Pakistan’s foreign minister has blamed the country’s previous government for “mishandling” the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national convicted for spying by a Pakistani military court four years ago, as legislation related to the cases passes up to Pakistan’s Senate.

Speaking to the media in the Pakistani city of Multan on Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said a bill passed by the lower house of parliament last week was aimed at complying with orders from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to deprive India of an opportunity to have Pakistan “dragged back” to the court.

“The PML-N are the ones who mishandled the Kulbhushan Jadhav case,” he said, referring to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, a main opposition political party.

“The steps we have taken are in order to comply with the International Court of Justice’s orders and recommendations.”

Qureshi’s comments follow a noisy debate on the bill in Parliament on Thursday, with both treasury and opposition benches accusing each other of incompetence in the handling of the case.

Jadhav was arrested by Pakistani security forces in March 2016, and convicted a year later by a military court for espionage and facilitating attacks by armed groups on Pakistani soil.

At the time of his arrest, the military released a video of Jadhav appearing to confess to having operated a network of operatives to conduct attacks in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province.

In July 2019, after a petition lodged by India, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to allow Jadhav full and unimpeded consular access to Indian officials but rejected an Indian plea for his conviction to be dismissed.

The court also ordered that Jadhav be given the right of review and reconsideration of his conviction before a civilian court.

The bill passed by Pakistan’s lower house of parliament on Thursday gives foreign nationals convicted by military courts in Pakistan the right to file an appeal before a high court, as well as to file petitions seeking consular access.

India’s government has not so far remarked on the passage of the bill, which will also have to be voted on by the upper house of parliament before it becomes law.

In August 2020, India’s foreign ministry said New Delhi had asked Pakistan to allow an Indian lawyer to represent Jadhav in his appeals.

In defence of the bill, on Sunday, Qureshi said: “India wants that [Jadhav] not be given consular access, and on that excuse, Pakistan be dragged back into the International Court of Justice,” he said.

“This is what India wants. I hope that our opposition members will not misunderstand things and will understand India’s plan.”

India’s foreign ministry has not commented on Qureshi’s accusation.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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