UN says Covid will increase the risks associated with drug trafficking

Vienna, Austria (AFP) — The new coronavirus pandemic could hit drug markets just as the 2008 economic crisis did, exacerbating the risks for users, the UN drugs and crime agency warned Thursday. In its 2020 World Drug Report, the agency predicted an overall increase in drug use due to the pandemic, with a shift towards consuming cheaper products and injecting them, which carries greater risks. Countries were also likely to reduce drug-related budgets, it warned. […]

Italy study shows mosquitoes cannot transmit coronavirus

ROME, Italy (AFP) — A new scientific study by Italy’s national health institute ISS shows that mosquitoes are unable to transmit coronavirus to humans, the institute said Thursday. The World Health Organisation had already said there was no evidence that the virus could be transmitted by the blood-sucking insects, which spread dengue and other diseases when they bite humans. But the latest study, performed in collaboration with IZSVe, a research organization for animal health and […]

European Union donates to Guatemala 72,000 test kits to detect COVID-19 cases

EAGLE NEWS —The Republic of Guatemala and its President, Alejandro Giammattei received on June 22, 72,000 RT PCR tests for the detection and diagnosis of the virus causing their respiratory syndrome of COVID-19. This generous donation will serve to strengthen the institutional response of the government of Guatemala to this pandemic. Through this goodwill gesture, President Alejandro Giammattei  said that “They’re friends we have to honor such as the European Union.” These 72,000 tests may […]

Court halts Mexico’s ‘Maya Train’ over indigenous health rights

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — A Mexican court has ordered the suspension of work on the “Maya Train,” a controversial railroad through Mayan lands in the country’s southeast, after an indigenous community filed an injunction. The $6.2 billion rail link is a pet project of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who said Wednesday that while the court challenge had “political overtones,” his government would comply with the ruling. “We will comply with the decisions […]

Russia holds grand WWII parade ahead of vote on Putin reforms

by Jonathan BROWN Agence France-Presse MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Columns of tanks and troops will parade through Red Square on Wednesday as President Vladimir Putin oversees grand World War II commemorations to stir up patriotic fervour ahead of a vote on extending his rule. Forced to postpone the country’s traditional May 9 Victory Day celebrations by the coronavirus pandemic, Putin rescheduled the parade for just a week ahead of a July 1 public vote on […]

Amazon indigenous groups face choice: fight virus or flee

by Florian PLAUCHEUR Agence France-Presse CRUZEIRINHO, Brazil (AFP) — Cruzeirinho, a small indigenous village of wooden shacks deep in the Amazon, is nearly empty these days — all but five of its 32 families have fled into the rainforest to escape the coronavirus pandemic. A week’s trip by boat from there, the inhabitants of the Umariacu indigenous reserve are trying a different strategy against the virus. “Attention: indigenous land. Closed for 15 days,” says a […]

Amazon pledges $2 billion investment to fight climate change

by Rob Lever Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Amazon on Tuesday pledged to invest $2 billion in projects aimed at combatting climate change, stepping up efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of the tech giant and others. The Climate Pledge Fund will back efforts by startups and other firms in multiple sectors to “facilitate the transition to a zero carbon economy,” Amazon said in a statement. The initiative “will look to invest in […]

Machu Picchu July reopening ruled out over fears of virus spread

LIMA, Peru (AFP) — The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, a jewel of Peruvian tourism, will not reopen in July as originally scheduled due to concerns over the coronavirus, local media reported Sunday. The Machu Picchu management group, UGM, made the decision based on reports from authorities in the Cusco region, where the citadel is located. “It has been decided that it will not be opened on July 1,” Machu Picchu district mayor Darwin […]

China cancels flights, classes over new outbreak as India deaths soar

by Jing Xuan Teng and Laurie Chen, with AFP Bureaus Agence France-Presse BEIJING, China (AFP) — China closed schools in Beijing and restricted air travel from the capital on Wednesday to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections, as India’s death toll spiked. The new Chinese cluster and surging infections in Latin America and South Asia have raised fresh doubts about how soon the world can control the pandemic, which has seen more than 8.1 […]

Robots: allies during virus crisis, enemies later?

by Pierrick YVON Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — When human contact needs to be kept to a minimum, robots can save lives and factories. But when the coronavirus crisis is over, will they amplify job losses? It may be a mechanised arm pulling beers in a Seville bar, a dog-like dispenser of hand sanitiser in a Bangkok mall, a cooler on wheels that delivers groceries in Washington, or a vaguely humanoid greeter at a […]

Steroid first drug shown to save lives of severest COVID-19 cases

by Dmitry ZAKS with Patrick GALEY in Paris Agence France-Presse LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — The steroid dexamethasone was shown Tuesday to be the first drug to significantly reduce the risk of death among severe COVID-19 cases, in trial results hailed as a “major breakthrough” in the fight against the disease. Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the widely available drug to more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients. Among […]

Steroid breakthrough raises virus hopes, despite China outbreak

by Dmitry Zaks with Beiyi Seow in Beijing LONDON, United States (AFP) — Britain will start giving seriously ill coronavirus patients a basic steroid treatment hailed as a breakthough to help reduce the global pandemic’s death toll even as worrying new outbreaks surfaced in China and elsewhere. An “extremely severe” cluster of cases in Beijing cast doubt over efforts to get the virus under control although Tuesday’s news from Britain came as a boost after […]