ECDC-WHO warn of Delta variant’s dominance in Europe
In a joint note, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have warned that the COVID Delta variant is dominant in Europe. They urged priority groups, such as the elderly, people with chronic diseases and health care workers, to receive a full course of COVID-19 vaccination to protect themselves and the vulnerable people they come in contact with. Johns Hopkins University reported 140,800 new cases in Europe on Friday. Worst hit was the UK (36,389), Spain (31,171), Russia (23,811), France (19,561) and the Netherlands (6,395). Meanwhile, WHO called for all countries to work together to investigate the origins of the virus that caused COVID-19. The appeal came a day after China rejected plans for more checks on labs and markets in its territory.
Low-key ceremony kicks off Olympics
Labelled as “the covid games” and “the silent games”, the Tokyo Olympics were declared open in an eerily empty stadium on Friday after defying a year’s pandemic delay and lingering coronavirus threats that will make them perhaps the most unusual Games in history. Wearing a white surgical mask, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito said, “I declare open the Games of Tokyo”. The announcement was made against the backdrop of thousands of vacant seats at Tokyo’s 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium. IOC president Thomas Bach acknowledged the Games would be “very different from what all of us had imagined.” But “today is a moment of hope”, he said. The first medals were won on the first day: gold went to the Chinese, Yang Qian, in the women’s 10-meter rifle competition. Silver went to the Russian Anastasiia Galashina, while Swiss Nina Christen won bronze.
China OKs G20 Environment deal on energy and climate
China has OK’d a deal on energy and climate at the G20 Envirnoment summit in Naples after US climate envoy John Kerry and Italian Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani pressed each country’s delegates towards the agreement. The agreement was held up for several hours by a squabble over decarbonization. The deal was greeted with applause from the delegates.
45 migrants drown off Turkey
A boat carrying 45 migrants sank off southwestern Turkey and the coast guard is on a search and rescue mission. There is no information on the nationalities of the migrants. Illegal immigrants often use Turkey as a gateway to reach prosperous EU states, mainly through Greece.
Australia avoids UNESCO downgrade of Great Barrier Reef
Australia on Friday garnered enough international support to defer for two years an attempt by UNESCO to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status. UNESCO had recommended they be put on the danger list, mainly due to rising ocean temperatures. But Australian-proposed amendments to the draft decision deferred the “in danger” question until 2023.
Stonhenge may lose World Heritage status
Stonehenge may also lose its coveted World Heritage status. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has communicated to the British government that the famous Neolithic site of Wiltshire will be included in its “in danger” list should construction of a £1.7 billion road tunnel go ahead as planned.
Women gondoliers protest lower prize money than men
Female gondoliers set to take part in Venice’s iconic ‘Historical Regatta’ are protesting about the lower prize money they are awarded compared to their male counterparts. “The hard work is the same but the prizes are a lot less,” they said. There has yet to be a female winner of the historic rowing contest.
17 Italian cities bid to host Eurovision Song Contest
Seventeen Italian cities are bidding to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest after Roman rockers Maneskin’s win this year. RAI and the European Broadcasting Union will choose the host city by the end of August. The contest will take place in May 2022.