International

China’s Taiwan jet incursions at second-highest level in November

by Amber Wang with Jerome Taylor in Hong Kong TAIPEI, Taiwan (AFP) — Chinese warplanes made 159 incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone in November according to AFP’s database, the second-highest month on record as Beijing continues to pile military pressure on the democratic island. Self-ruled Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which views the island as its own territory and has vowed to seize it one day, by force if […]

Biden to review Covid travel ban ‘week to week’

MINNEAPOLIS, United States (AFP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he would decide on a weekly basis whether to extend US travel bans on southern Africa, depending what happens with the worrying new Omicron variant of Covid-19. Asked how long travel restrictions that took effect Monday on South Africa and seven other southern African countries would remain in place, Biden said it “kind of depends.” The US president, who was boarding Air Force One […]

SAfrica’s Aspen inks deal with J&J for African anti-Covid jab

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) — South African pharma giant Aspen said Tuesday it has reached an agreement in principle with US-based Johnson & Johnson paving the way for an anti-Covid vaccine “made in Africa for Africa”. “Today we are pleased to announce the intention for Johnson & Johnson to grant Aspen the rights to manufacture and sell Aspen’s own brand of the vaccine in Africa,” Aspen CEO Stephen Saad said in a statement. The preliminary […]

Over-60s, vulnerable should postpone travel due to Omicron: WHO

GENEVA, Switzerland  (AFP) — Brazil’s health regulator on Tuesday reported the discovery of two “preliminary” cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in a traveler from South Africa, where it was first detected, and his wife. Positive samples from the two Brazilians will now be sent for further laboratory analysis for confirmation, the Anvisa regulator said in a statement. If confirmed, they would be the first Omicron cases in Latin America. The passenger arrived at the […]

Brazil reports two ‘preliminary’ Omicron cases

BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil’s health regulator on Tuesday reported the discovery of two “preliminary” cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in a traveler from South Africa, where it was first detected, and his wife. Positive samples from the two Brazilians will now be sent for further laboratory analysis for confirmation, the Anvisa regulator said in a statement. If confirmed, they would be the first Omicron cases in Latin America. The passenger arrived at the […]

Three students killed in US high school shooting: police

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Three students were killed and six other people including a teacher were wounded Tuesday in a shooting at a high school in rural Oxford, Michigan, local police said. A 15-year-old student was taken into custody and a handgun was seized after the shooting at Oxford High School, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “There was no resistance during the arrest and the suspect has asked for a […]

Dutch find Omicron a week earlier than thought

  THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) — Dutch health authorities said Tuesday that the new Covid-19 variant was present in the Netherlands a week earlier than previously believed and checks are underway to see how far it has spread. The RIVM National Health and Environment Institute said it “has found the corona variant Omicron in two test samples that had already been taken in the Netherlands… on November 19 and 23”. The first cases in the […]

Uganda air strikes target rebels in DR Congo

KINSHASA, DR Congo (AFP) – Uganda launched air strikes and artillery attacks targeting the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group in eastern DR Congo on Tuesday, in an operation agreed with Congolese forces, both sides said. “As announced, targeted and concerted action with the Ugandan army started today with air strikes and artillery fire from Uganda against positions of the terrorist ADF in the DRC,” Congolese government spokesman and Communications Minister Patrick Muyaya wrote on […]

Barcelona fire kills four, including two children

BARCELONA, Spain (AFP) – A fire ripped through an abandoned bank occupied by squatters in central Barcelona on Tuesday, killing four people, including a baby and a three-year-old boy, Spanish firefighters said. “While we were battling the fire, we found four people. Emergency services tried to revive them but unfortunately they failed, they could not do anything to save them,” the head of the firefighting operation, Angel Lopez, told reporters. Firefighters rescued four other people who […]

Lowering the queen’s flag — Barbados becomes a republic

by Kareem Smith Agence France-Presse BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AFP) – The Caribbean island nation of Barbados will on Monday night sever centuries-old ties to the British monarchy, ditching Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and declaring itself the world’s newest republic. The Royal Standard flag that represents the queen will be lowered in the capital Bridgetown and — at midnight (0400 GMT) — the current governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason, will be inaugurated as the first president. […]

Asian markets hit by Moderna vaccine warning over Omicron

  HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Asian equity and oil traders were sent running Tuesday after the head of Moderna warned current coronavirus vaccines might be less effective at fending off the Omicron variant, fuelling fears that countries could be forced back into economically painful lockdowns. Stocks had mostly been edging up after a two-day sell-off that followed news Friday of the new variant, which some observers said was overdone as billions of people have […]

First Omicron case detected in Japan

  TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japan on Tuesday confirmed its first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant, a day after authorities announced new Covid border restrictions. “Regarding the traveller arriving from Namibia, it was confirmed to be a case of Omicron after analysis at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases,” government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. “This is the first Omicron case confirmed in Japan,” he said, adding that the infected traveller, a man in […]