Fires ‘poisoning air’ in Amazon: study

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Rampant fires in the Amazon are “poisoning the air” of the world’s biggest rainforest, causing a sharp rise in respiratory emergencies in a region already hit hard by Covid-19, said a study published Wednesday. The fires that engulfed the Brazilian Amazon last year to global outcry caused an estimated 2,195 people in the region to be hospitalized for respiratory distress driven by inhaling smoke-polluted air, found the study by […]

Women may mount stronger Covid-19 immune response

by Kelly MACNAMARA Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — A new study looking at male and female immune responses to the new coronavirus may shed new light on why men are more likely to become seriously ill with Covid-19, researchers said Wednesday. Since early in the pandemic it has been clear that men, particularly older men, are at a far higher risk of dying from the virus than women of a similar age, but scientists […]

Hong Kong: first ‘proven’ case of COVID reinfection

by Marlowe HOOD Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Researchers in Hong Kong Monday identified what they said was the first confirmed case worldwide of COVID-19 reinfection, raising questions about the durability of immunity, whether acquired naturally or with a vaccine. “Our study proves that immunity for COVID infection is not lifelong — in fact, reinfection can occur quite quickly,” said Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a microbiologist at Hong Kong University’s Faculty of Medicine and lead […]

Amazon indigenous protesters vow indefinite roadblock

NOVO PROGRESSO, Brazil (AFP) — Armed with spears and bows, dozens of indigenous protesters in Brazil vowed Thursday to maintain a roadblock on a key highway until the authorities listen to their demands for help fighting COVID-19 and deforestation. Members of the Kayapo Mekranoti ethnic group have been blocking highway BR-163 through the Amazon since Monday outside the northern town of Novo Progresso. But they vowed that they would no longer lift their blockade periodically to […]

Brazil indigenous protesters defy court, resume roadblock

NOVO PROGRESSO, Brazil (AFP) — Indigenous protesters in Brazil defied a court order Tuesday and resumed a roadblock of a key highway through the Amazon rainforest, demanding help against the new coronavirus and an end to illegal mining and deforestation. Brandishing bows and wearing traditional feather headdresses and body paint, dozens of protesters from the Kayapo Mekranoti ethnic group have been blocking highway BR-163 through the Amazon rainforest since Monday morning. They briefly lifted their […]

Vietnam suspends wildlife trade as pandemic prods action

HANOI, Vietnam (AFP) — Vietnam, one of Asia’s biggest consumers of wildlife products, has suspended all imports of wild animal species “dead or alive” and vowed to “eliminate” illegal markets across the country. The directive signed by the leader of the Communist country follows an international scandal over the sale of wildlife, which has been blamed as the origin of the coronavirus pandemic in neighbouring China. It is a major victory for conservation groups who […]

Israeli firm developing 30-second coronavirus breath test

by Jonah Mandel Agence France-Presse MISGAV, Israel (AFP) — An Israeli company is developing a coronavirus breathalyser test that gives results in 30 seconds, billing it as a “front line” tool that can help restore a sense of normality during the pandemic. NanoScent, the firm making the test kits, said an extensive trial in Israel for the presence of live virus delivered results with 85 percent accuracy, and the product could receive regulatory approval within […]

Much maligned elsewhere, bats get star treatment in central France

by Maxime MAMET Agence France-Presse BOURGES, France (AFP) — At a museum in central France, researchers tenderly feed insects and kitten milk formula to tiny orphaned bats — creatures widely reviled for their role in human disease outbreaks, most recently COVID-19. The pandemic has triggered bat-killing sprees in communities from India and Peru to Cuba and Rwanda, but the mission of the team at the Bourges natural history museum is to protect the misunderstood winged mammals. […]

Virus-hit Singapore plunges into recession as economy shrinks 41%

SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — Singapore plunged into recession in the second quarter as growth fell 41.2 percent quarter-on-quarter with the trade-dependent economy hammered by the coronavirus, preliminary data showed Tuesday. Year-on-year, the economy shrank 12.6 percent between April and June, according to the data from the trade ministry, as strict curbs were imposed to fight the virus. It marks the second consecutive quarter of contraction, meaning that the city state — which has one of the […]

Flying back to the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic: what to expect in the “new normal”

by Emily Manuel Contributor, Eagle News AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands (Eagle News) — With no end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to join 391 stranded Filipino seafarers, workers, and tourists in a repatriation flight organized by the Philippine Embassy in the The Hague last July 3, 2020. KL 875 would take us from Amsterdam to Manila via Bangkok in approximately 15 hours and 45 minutes. – Check-in – Schiphol Airport stands eerily quiet. […]

Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands helps repatriate 392 Filipinos including 367 seafarers

by Emily Manuel Contributor, Eagle News THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (Eagle News) – The Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands assisted a total of 392 overseas Filipinos in a repatriation flight from Amsterdam to Manila last July 3, 2020. The flight included 367 seafarers, 3 land-based workers, 10 stranded tourists, 7 au pairs, 2 students, and 3 other returning Filipinos. – Stranded Filipinos – Due to the daily limit of inbound passengers allowed to enter the […]

Australia starts virus testing blitz to curb surge in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Health workers fanned out across suburbs of Melbourne Friday in a testing blitz aimed at choking off a surge in coronavirus cases in Australia’s second-biggest city. Officials reported another 30 new COVID-19 infections in the city overnight in a continuing outbreak that has raised fears of a second wave in Australia, which looked like it had successfully contained the epidemic. It was the 10th straight day of double-digit rises in new […]