Italy PM to quit Tuesday, seeking new govt

by Alice RITCHIE ROME, Italy (AFP) — Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced he will resign Tuesday, in what media reports said was an attempt to build a new government after weeks of political turmoil. He called a cabinet meeting for 9:00am (0800 GMT) when he “will inform the ministers of his desire to go to the Quirinale (President Sergio Mattarella’s office) to resign”, his office said. Media reports suggest Conte will seek a mandate […]

Cyclone Eloise leaves hundreds homeless in Mozambique

MAPUTO, Mozambique (AFP) — A tropical cyclone that hit central Mozambique on the weekend has displaced thousands of people and caused severe flooding in an area battered by two deadly cyclones in 2019, response teams and aid agencies said. Cyclone Eloise made landfall in the early hours of Saturday, bringing high-speed winds of up to 150 km/h followed by torrential rain over the port city of Beira, the capital of Mozambique’s Sofala province, and the […]

Gorilla treated with antibodies recovering from Covid, says US zoo

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — An elderly gorilla was recovering from a serious case of Covid-19 after he was treated with cutting-edge synthetic antibodies, the San Diego Zoo said Monday. Veterinarians are now identifying which animals to inject with the zoo’s limited supply of vaccines. Winston, 48, was one of several gorillas among the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s troop who were confirmed positive for the virus on January 11, based on fecal samples. It […]

Moderna says Covid vaccine effective against UK, S.Africa variants

by Issam AHMED WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US biotechnology firm Moderna on Monday said lab studies showed its Covid-19 vaccine remains effective against variants of the coronavirus first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa. But the positive news was tempered by the finding that there was a sixfold reduction in the level of highly-potent neutralizing antibodies produced against the South African variant, B.1.351. Out of caution, the company will test adding a […]

California ends wide lockdown as Covid hospital strain eases

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — California lifted blanket “stay-at-home” orders across the US state Monday, paving the way for activities such as outdoor dining to return even in worst-hit regions as the pandemic’s strain on hospitals begins to ease. The western state has suffered one of the nation’s worst winter Covid spikes, with hospital intensive care units overwhelmed, ambulances backed up for hours at a time, and cases more than doubling since December to […]

US warships conduct exercises in South China Sea

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A US aircraft carrier group sailed into the South China Sea on a so-called “freedom of navigation” exercise, the first routine operation in the region under new President Joe Biden. Led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier strike group entered the area Saturday, the US Indo-Pacific Command said, the same day Taiwan reported multiple Chinese jets and bombers had flown into its air defense zone. “It’s great to be […]

Biden to reinstate Covid travel bans: White House official

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) –President Joe Biden will re-impose a Covid-19 travel ban on most non-US citizens who have been in Britain, Brazil, Ireland and much of Europe, a White House official said Sunday, as the new administration ramps up its pandemic response. Biden will also on Monday extend the ban to travelers who have recently been to South Africa amid warnings that new, more transmissible coronavirus variants are already establishing themselves in the United […]

Hong Kong lifts first virus lockdown after 13 new cases found

HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Hong Kong lifted its first neighbourhood coronavirus lockdown on Monday morning after testing some 7,000 people and finding 13 cases as debate swirled over the efficacy of the move. Over the weekend police moved in to seal off a poor and densely populated neighbourhood of about 150 apartment blocks where coronavirus clusters had sprung up in recent weeks. Officials went door to door conducting mandatory tests and found 0.17 percent […]

New Zealand’s new Covid-19 case is South African variant

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand’s first case of coronavirus in the community for more than two months has been identified as the South African variant and was likely contracted in hotel quarantine, health minister Chris Hipkins said Monday. The 56-year-old woman, who recently returned from Europe, tested positive on Saturday, 10 days after she completed her compulsory two weeks in isolation. New Zealand has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic, […]

France imposes border controls in scramble to avoid lockdown

PARIS, France (AFP) — New border controls came into force in France on Sunday as part of a massive effort to contain the spread of Covid-19 and avoid another nationwide lockdown. After a slow start to vaccinations, French health authorities reported that a million people had received coronavirus inoculations by Saturday. But stubbornly high new rates for infections, hospitalizations and Covid deaths fuelled fears France may need another full lockdown, which would be the third, […]

Mexican president Lopez Obrador says he has Covid-19

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced Sunday that he was infected with the coronavirus, but said his symptoms are mild and he feels optimistic. “I regret to inform you that I am infected with Covid-19. The symptoms are mild but I am already undergoing medical treatment,” the 67-year-old said in a message on social media. “As always, I am optimistic,” added the leftwing populist, who is rarely seen wearing […]

Dubai slows down Pfizer vaccine rollout amid shipment delays

  DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — The emirate of Dubai has said it was slowing down its rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine due to a temporary delay in global deliveries. Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, began mass inoculations in December after the approval of vaccines by Chinese firm Sinopharm and US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. According to health officials, the UAE has […]