Vaccinated people in high Covid risk areas need to mask again: US

People vaccinated against Covid-19 in high-risk parts of the United States should resume wearing masks indoors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday. The shift comes as the Delta variant of the coronavirus is driving a sharp surge in cases, with hotspots in regions that have lagged behind in vaccinations. “In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings,” said CDC director Rochelle […]

Flood-hit Belgians struggle to get over ‘nightmares’

by Anne-Laure MONDESERT TROOZ, Belgium It has been two weeks since the torrents of water trapped Nadia Neqrat on the first floor of a house in Belgium’s eastern Trooz district, and she still has nightmares. Now — with the help of relatives, neighbours and volunteers — she is among the residents trying to rebuild their lives. The devastation from the worst floods here in living memory, which left at least 41 dead in Belgium and […]

After Covid jab, BioNTech sets sights on malaria vaccine

FRANKFURT, Germany (AFP) — Germany’s BioNTech, which developed a coronavirus vaccine with US giant Pfizer in record time, said Monday it aimed to start trialling a malaria vaccine next year using the same breakthrough mRNA technology. If successful, the vaccine could be a crucial step in the fight against the mosquito-borne disease, which kills more than 400,000 people a year — mainly young children in Africa. “We will do whatever it takes to develop a […]

One dead, 16 hurt in blast at German chemical park

LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AFP) — One person died and 16 people were injured Tuesday following an explosion at a chemical park in Leverkusen, Germany, the site operator said as residents were urged to stay indoors because of black smoke rising from the area. The blast happened at around 09:40 am (0740 GMT) “for still unknown reasons”, Chempark operator Currenta said. At least two of the injured were in a serious condition, and four workers were missing, […]

Firefighters battle forest blaze near Athens suburbs

ATHENS, Greece (AFP) — A fire scorched forests at the base of Mount Penteli north of Athens Tuesday and was approaching the surrounding suburbs, firefighters and local authorities said. Authorities have sent alerts to mobile phones of residents of the affected area, warning them to “be ready to follow instructions,” but had not issued any evacuation orders. “No one is in danger,” a spokesman for the firefighters, Vassilis Vathrakoyannis, told Skai radio. Earlier, the mayor […]

UK house prices hit record peak on pandemic: data

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — UK property prices hit a record peak last month as Britons sought more space during the pandemic, data showed Tuesday, with demand stimulated also by temporary tax cuts. The average sale price rose by 5.4 percent to a record £230,700 (270,000 euros, $320,000) in June from a year earlier, lifted also by a supply shortage, property listings website Zoopla said in a statement. That was almost a third higher than […]

China’s sea claims have ‘no basis’ in international law: US

by Martin Abbugao SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea have “no basis in international law”, taking aim at China’s growing assertiveness in the hotly contested waters. Austin’s broadside came at the start of his first trip to Southeast Asia as US defense secretary, as he seeks to rally allies in the region as a bulwark to China. President Joe Biden’s administration wants […]

Indonesia reports record 2,069 virus deaths in 24 hours

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia reported a record 2,069 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours Tuesday as the Southeast Asian nation faces its deadliest Covid-19 surge since the pandemic began. Tuesday’s grim tally was nearly 600 deaths higher than the previous day and topped last week’s daily record 1,566 deaths, the health ministry said. New infections also shot up to just over 45,000, from about 28,000 on Monday. The eye-watering data comes after Indonesia this week […]

Death toll from Henan floods rises to 71 as China braces for more rain

BEIJING, China (AFP) — The death toll from floods in central China’s Henan province rose to 71 on Tuesday as a tribute at a subway where 14 people died was sealed off in a sign of sensitivity to public criticism of the government’s handling of the disaster. Torrential downpours dumped a year’s rain in just three days last week on the hardest-hit city of Zhengzhou, flooding subway cars and trapping more than 500 commuters during […]

Several hurt in blast at German chemical site

FRANKFURT, Germany (AFP) — Two people were seriously injured Tuesday in an explosion at a chemical park in Leverkusen, western Germany, the site’s operator said, as police urged residents to shelter indoors. “Several employees were injured in the incident, at least two of them seriously,” Chempark operator Currenta said in a statement. “Five employees are currently missing.” The blast happened at around 09:40 am (0740 GMT) “for still unknown reasons”, it said. The explosion could […]

Sandstorm engulfs desert city in China

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A wall of sand over 100 metres high swallowed a city on the fringes of the Gobi desert in northwestern China, in scenes reminiscent of a disaster film. Dunhuang, a tourist draw with a colourful history as a Silk Road outpost, momentarily disappeared in the dust clouds as the storm hit on Sunday. A resident surnamed Zhang told local media Jimu News that the sandstorm came abruptly and swept through the […]

Melbourne to lift virus lockdown as Delta outbreak contained

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Melbourne’s coronavirus lockdown will be lifted late Tuesday, as authorities signalled a Delta variant outbreak in Australia’s second-biggest city had been contained. Neighbouring South Australia state will also ease stay-at-home rules, but the country’s largest city Sydney was facing a likely extension to a lockdown now in its fifth week. After almost two weeks under stay-at-home orders, millions in Melbourne and surrounding Victoria state will exit their fifth lockdown just before […]