WHO special meeting over new COVID-19 variant
The World Health Organization will hold a special meeting amid concerns about a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa, officials said on Thursday. “Our technical advisory group on virus evolution is discussing this with our colleagues in South Africa,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the COVID-19 Technical Lead for WHO, said during a livestreamed Q&A session. “We’re also meeting again on Friday. We’re calling a special meeting to discuss this, not to cause alarm, but just because we have this system in place. We can bring these scientists together and discuss ‘What does it mean?’ and also set the timeline for how long it will take for us to get those answers,” she added. Scientists say the new coronavirus variant is of concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people. Currently identified as B.1.1.529, the new variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travellers from South Africa.
UK puts six African countries on red list
Flights from six southern African countries to the UK will be suspended as of mid-day today and the nations will be added to the travel red list, following the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant which one health official called the “worst one we’ve seen so far”. From 4am on Sunday, anyone who arrives in the UK from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at a cost of £2,285 for one adult.
France expands Channel monitoring
France has pledged to step up surveillance of its northern shores, but migrants huddling in makeshift camps said neither that nor a tragic drowning the day before would stop them from trying to cross the Channel to Britain. Twenty-seven migrants died on Wednesday when their dinghy deflated in the Channel. Their deaths deepened animosity between Britain and France, already at odds over Brexit. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said France was at fault and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Britain of “bad immigration management”. Johnson later announced that he had offered to meet Macron and other European leaders to discuss steps that could reduce the crossings.
Thousands join global outcry over violence against women
Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Europe and Latin America on Thursday to demand an end to violence against women, with police in Turkey firing teargas to disperse demonstrators. The rallies took place to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. But things turned ugly in Istanbul after riot police fired tear gas to break up a protest march by hundreds of protesters urging the government to rejoin an international treaty designed to protect women.
Siberian coal mine fire kills 52 miners, rescuers
A fire at a Siberian coal mine has killed 52 miners and rescuers. Officials previously said that rescuers found 14 bodies and the search for 38 people missing was halted for safety reasons, because of a build-up of explosive methane gas and a high concentration of toxic fumes from the fire. Earlier, rescuers led to the surface 239 miners, 49 of whom were injured.
Interpol elects new president despite torture accusations
Interpol on Thursday elected a contentious official from the United Arab Emirates as its new president.Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, inspector general at the UAE’s interior ministry, was chosen for one four-year term, despite having been accused of involvement in torture and arbitrary detentions by human rights groups in five countries, including Turkey and France.
World Cup 2022: European play-off draw today
The draw to determine the final European encounters in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 preliminary competition will be held in Zurich, today at 5 pm (Malta time). The draw, which will be streamed live on FIFA.com and on TVM news+, will split the 12 European play-off teams into three different brackets. The teams (10 group runners-up and two Nations League group winners) are seeded: the six teams with the best qualifying record (points and goal difference) are allocated to Pot 1 and the other six will go into Pot 2. Italy, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sweden and Wales are in Pot 1 while Pot 2 consists of Austria, the Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine. The nations will then be split into three four-team paths, with semi-finals and a final ensuing in each. The three triumphant sides will join the 10 group winners from the first round in representing Europe at the World Cup, starting on 21 November 2022.