Partial lockdown in Beijing as UK virus variant detected

BEIJING, China (AFP) — 1.6 million residents were banned from leaving Beijing on Wednesday as two Covid-19 cases linked to a new UK virus variant were found in the Chinese capital. China has lauded its response to the pandemic, which emerged in the central city of Wuhan just over a year ago but has been broadly brought to heel, officially killing fewer than 5,000 Chinese people. Authorities have been swift to stamp out local clusters […]

Partial lockdown in Beijing over Covid-19 outbreak

  BEIJING, China (AFP) — A partial lockdown was imposed on the Chinese capital Wednesday, with 1.6 million residents banned from leaving Beijing, after a handful of cases were detected. Seven cases were reported in the city on Wednesday, including six in southern Daxing district. All 1.6 million residents of Daxing must not leave Beijing unless they have received special permission from the authorities and tested negative for Covid-19 in the past three days, the […]

Israel extends Covid lockdown despite vaccination drive

JERUSALEM, Undefined (AFP) — The Israeli government decided Tuesday to extend the country’s coronavirus lockdown to the end of the month after a spike in infections, despite an intensive vaccination campaign. Israel began its third lockdown in late December and tightened it on January 8, with officials saying at the time it would be lifted after two weeks if the daily caseload decreased sufficiently. Since the rollout of vaccinations one month ago, the Jewish state […]

China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners

  BEIJING, China (AFP) — Chinese miners trapped underground for nine days are recovering strength after food and medical supplies were lowered to them, rescuers said Tuesday, as authorities raced to save the workers. Some 22 workers were trapped at the Hushan mine near Yantai in east China’s Shandong province after an explosion damaged the entrance. One group of the miners managed to send a note attached to a metal wire which rescuers had dropped […]

Chinese city rushes to build massive Covid-19 quarantine centre

  BEIJING, China (AFP) — Thousands of prefabricated rooms fill a vast field on the outskirts of China’s Shijiazhuang city as construction crews work around the clock to erect a large quarantine facility to curb the city’s growing Covid-19 outbreak. China has largely brought the virus under control even as the rest of the world struggles with mounting deaths and overburdened hospitals. But a spate of small, localised outbreaks has prompted Chinese officials to order […]

‘Arson’ destroys four UNICEF schools in Rohingya camps

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AFP) — Four UNICEF schools for Rohingya children in refugee camps in Bangladesh have been destroyed in a fire, officials said Tuesday, with the UN children’s agency calling it arson. It was unclear who might attack the schools, which were empty at the time, but the security situation in the camps housing around a million people has worsened in recent months. Last week a blaze thought to have been started by a […]

Out-of-control truck kills 15 on Indian roadside

AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) — An out-of-control dumper truck crushed fifteen people to death as they slept by the roadside early Tuesday in western India, authorities said. The dead included a baby girl, eight women and six men, said police official Usha Rada in the Suraj district of Gujarat state. Six others were injured. The truck collided with a tractor carrying sugarcane just after midnight at a crossroads. “The dumper driver… lost control of the vehicle […]

Biden team says US will not lift travel bans, despite Trump statement

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President-elect Joe Biden’s spokeswoman quickly dismissed Donald Trump’s announcement Monday that a Covid-19 ban on travelers arriving from much of Europe and Brazil would be lifted, underlining the fractious transition of power. “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” tweeted Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary. “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in […]

WHO, China could have acted faster on pandemic: experts

by Nina LARSON GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — China and the World Health Organization could have acted faster to avert catastrophe during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, a panel of independent experts has concluded. The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said its evaluation of the start of the crisis in China “suggests that there was potential for early signs to have been acted on more rapidly”. Containment measures should have been implemented […]

Japan PM vows to tackle virus as public support plunges

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged Monday to tackle surging coronavirus cases and restore normal life “as soon as possible” as polls showed plunging support for his government. Suga, who was speaking at the opening of a new parliament session, has only been in office since September, but has seen approval ratings nosedive over his government’s handling of a third wave of infections. The latest wave in Japan and abroad has […]

Samsung chief jailed for 2.5 years over corruption scandal

by Sunghee Hwang SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — The de facto chief of South Korea’s Samsung business empire was convicted Monday over a huge corruption scandal and jailed for two and a half years, in a ruling that deprives the tech giant of its top decision-maker. Lee Jae-yong, vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest smartphone and memory chip maker, was found guilty of bribery and embezzlement in connection with the scandal that brought down […]

Escaping coronavirus lockdowns, tourists flock to Dubai

by Shatha Yaish Agence France Presse DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — As much of the world tightens lockdowns to stem coronavirus, Dubai has flung its doors open, branding itself as a sunny, quarantine-free escape — despite a sharp rise in cases. While mask-wearing and social distancing are strictly enforced, life in the tourism-reliant emirate looks much like normal, with its restaurants, hotels and mega-malls open for business. Images of sports stars and television personalities […]