Global Review – 9th January

‘Deltacron’ identified in Cyprus

US TV network Bloomberg reports a variant of COVID-19, that brings together Delta and Omicronand has been nicknamed ‘Deltacron’, has been discovered in Cyprus. Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the university, told Sigma TV they had identified 25 cases which showed that the presence of Deltacron is higher among hospitalised patients, compared to those with mild symptoms. The genetic sequences have been sent to the international database ‘Gisaid’ for further studies.

Two million COVID cases a day worldwide

The world recorded more than two million daily coronavirus cases on average between January 1 and 7 with figures doubling in 10 days, an AFP tally shows. An average of 2,106,118 new daily infections were reported over the seven-day period, shortly after the one million case threshold was passed in the week of December 23-29, 2021. New global case numbers have soared by 270% since the highly contagious Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa in late November. But COVID-related deaths were at their lowest level since October 2020, with an average of 6,237 per day recorded in the period between January 1 and 7.

France: Massive protests against new vaccine pass

French authorities say more than 105,000 people have taken part in protests across the country against the introduction of a new coronavirus pass. A new draft law would in effect ban unvaccinated people from public life. Interior Ministry officials said 34 people were arrested and at least 10 police officers were injured after protests turned violent in some places. The Bill makes it imperative for people to be fully vaccinated to visit a range of spaces, including bars and restaurants.

‘Omicron spread due to mix of factors’ – WHO

The World Health Organisation has said that the spread of Omicron was down to a combination of factors including the make-up of the COVID-19 variant and increased social mixing. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, said people needed to think about reducing their exposure to the virus and taking control over its transmission. The spread of the virus was also being driven by the context of people mixing more and not adhering to measures such as physical distancing.

Mother Teresa charity gets back access to foreign funds

The Indian government has renewed its permission for Mother Teresa’s charity to receive foreign funds, weeks after rejecting it. On Christmas Day the government moved to cut off foreign funding to the Missionaries of Charity and refused to renew its licence. Last week, Oxfam India said the Indian government had blocked its access to international funds, a move which it said would have severe consequences for its humanitarian work. Amnesty International announced in 2020 that it was halting operations in India after the government froze its bank accounts.

Pakistan: 44 dead frozen in cars trapped in snow

The death toll of the snow storm that hit Murree, a mountain town some 30 km northeast of Islamabad, has risen to 44, including 10 children. Rescue services reported they would have frozen to death in cars trapped in the snow. More than 1,000 vehicles had been extracted and the occupants rescued while about 250 cars were still stranded. Rescue operations are being hampered by the persistent bad weather. 

Ukraine: US and allies working on sanctions against Russia

On the eve of the start of the Geneva talks between Moscow and Washington on the situation in Ukraine, the New York Times reports the Biden administration and its allies are working to develop a series of very harsh financial, technological and military sanctions against Russia. The punitive measures that would take effect immediately after a possible invasion of Ukraine. The newspaper says the sanctions would be aimed at cutting the main Russian financial institutions out of all global transactions, and at imposing an embargo on ‘made in USA’ technology aimed at the defense sectors, aerospace and the consumer industry.

Angry Russian reaction to Blinken comment

Russia responded angrily to comments by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that Kazakhstan might have a hard time getting rid of Russian troops. Russia’s foreign ministry said Blinken should, instead, reflect on US military meddling around the world and analyse its own track record of interventions in countries such as Vietnam and Iraq.

Former Kazakh security chief arrested for treason

The former intelligence chief of Kazakhstan, Karim Masimov, has been arrested on charges of ‘high treason’. Masimov’s arrest is the first measure taken against a senior official of the former Soviet republic in the current crisis. Meanwhile, the Kremlin reports President Putin had a “long conversation” with Kazakh President Tokayev with the aim of “restoring order” in the country.

Tennis: Voracove leaves Australia

Czech tennis player Renata Voracova has left Australia after visa complications. She was detained in the same hotel as men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has challenged his visa cancellation over a COVID vaccine dispute. Like Djokovic, Voracova had arrived in Australia claiming an exemption from the country’s tight vaccine requirements as she had contracted COVID-19 just before Christmas.

Football: Africa Cup kicks off

Africa’s showpiece Cup of Nations kicks off in Cameroon on Sunday against a backdrop of controversy over player call-ups, the tournament’s timing, the host nation’s readiness and the possibility of widespread COVID-19 infections. The hosts will play the first match against Burkina Faso. Fans must be completely vaccinated and venues have been limited to 60% capacity, although this is being raised to 80% when Cameroon take the field.

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