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South Africa New Covid Variant: New Covid variant puts India on alert; govt calls for strict screening for travellers from 3 nations | India News



NEW DELHI: In the wake of multiple cases of new Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 reported in Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong, the Centre has asked states to conduct “rigorous screening and testing” of all international travellers coming from and transiting through these countries.
The new variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus has serious public health implications for the country, the health ministry said, especially at a time when visa restrictions have been relaxed and international travel is opening up.

The Centre has also asked states and UTs to closely track and test the contacts of international travellers from these countries. Botswana has so far reported three cases, South Africa six and Hong Kong one case.

“lt is therefore imperative that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the “at risk” country category of international travellers coming to lndia) and also including all other “at risk” countries indicated in the revised guidelines for international arrivals issued by this ministry dated 11.11.2021, are subjected to rigorous screening and testing, as per health ministry guidelines,” health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to all states on Thursday. Bhushan urged states to ensure that samples of travellers turning positive are sent to INSACOG genome sequencing laboratories promptly as per the ministry guidelines.

The state surveillance officers have also been asked to establish close coordination with their designated or tagged genome sequencing labs for expediting results of genomic analysis, to ensure necessary public health measures may be undertaken by the states and UTs in case presence of variants of concern is reported.


Territory rights: Labor shock plot to put McMahon bill on agenda | The Canberra Times



news, federal-politics, voluntary assisted dying, canberra, Katy Gallagher, Zed Seselja, Sam McMahon, Senate, Federal Parliament, Territory Rights

The push to restore the ACT’s right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying could reach the Federal Parliament as soon as Monday, under a shock Labor plot which threatens to stir further disruption in the Coalition in the final sitting week of the year. The Canberra Times can reveal Labor wants to take the rare step of forfeiting a slot allocated to one of its pieces of legislation to allow debate on Coalition Senator Sam McMahon’s bill to let the Northern Territory once again make assisted dying laws. If the debate goes ahead and clears key early hurdles, Labor’s Katy Gallagher will attempt to amend the bill to include the ACT. Senator McMahon chose to controversially exclude the ACT from her legislation after local senator and assisted dying opponent Zed Seselja signalled he wouldn’t support it. The chances of Senator Gallagher having the opportunity to amend the bill – let alone it reaching a final vote in the Senate on Monday – are small, given time constraints. But a debate would at least help to flush out where parliamentarians stand on the contentious issue. “The government should support this debate to occur and Zed should be standing up for his constituents and at least allowing the debate to happen – even if he remains opposed to the bill,” Senator Gallagher told The Canberra Times. The government has to agree to Labor’s surprise request, raising the prospect of more controversy on the floor of the Senate if it blocks debate on its Country Liberal colleagues’ bill for the second time in two weeks. The government last week overlooked Senator McMahon’s bill, choosing instead to allow debate on Pauline Hanson’s proposed anti-vaccine mandate laws. Senator McMahon was angered by the decision, accusing the One Nation leader of hijacking the government’s agenda with her threat to vote against all of its legislation unless it allowed debate on her bill. The NT senator, who will exit federal politics at the next election, had earlier been considering crossing the floor if her own bill was snubbed. She eventually made good on that threat when it came to the One Nation bill, siding with four of her Coalition colleagues to vote against the government’s position. It was a preclude to a chaotic week for the Morrison government, which saw seven Coalition members cross the floor over various pieces of legislation. The government’s decision to overlook the territory rights bill for debate last week seemingly ended all hope that it could be put to a vote before the looming federal election. But that was before Labor’s surprise intervention. READ MORE: Labor caucus had resolved to oppose Senator McMahon’s bill, although that was before she dumped the provisions it opposed related to land acquisitions and workplace laws. The federal Opposition has promised to prioritise debate on a repeal of the 1997 laws which block both territories from making assisted dying laws, if it wins the next election. The Canberra Times has this year been calling for a repeal of the so-called Andrews Bill as part of its Our Right to Decide campaign. Senator Gallagher had previously rebuffed Senator McMahon’s invitations to amend her bill to include the ACT, arguing a straight repeal of the 1997 laws was the “only way” to restore territory rights. But the Labor frontbencher’s position has softened. “If the Morrison government really cared about territories’ democratic rights they would have listed their own senator’s bill in their allocated slot last Monday,” Senator Gallagher said. “As we are nearing the end of this parliamentary term and as Senator McMahon is leaving the Senate at the election it made sense for two territory senators to work together to progress the debate on territory rights.” The Morrison government has previously indicated it had no plans to repeal the Andrews Bill. The Canberra Times understands Senator McMahon spoke up during last Tuesday’s Coalition party room meeting to push for a conscience vote on her bill. She did not respond to The Canberra Times’ requests for comment on Labor’s latest plan. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:



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Yellowstone season 4, episode 5 cast: Who guest stars in episode 5? | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV



Emily – Kathryn Kelly

Emily is another major new character for the season, stepping onto Dutton Ranch as a young vet tech.

Played by Kathryn Kelly, it isn’t long before Emily establishes a relationship with one of the ranch’s cowboys, but her overall arc remains to be revealed.

Kelly is best known for her portrayal of Angela McPherson in the final season of Nashville from 2018.

She has also made appearances in The Originals, Powers, Local Talent, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

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China could see over 6.30 lakh Covid cases daily, warns study



“The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly put an unbearable burden on the medical system,” the report said.

The country on Saturday reported 23 new COVID-19 cases, including 20 imported ones as the country appears to have contained a recent spike of infections in Beijing and other cities.

According to a report by the Peking University mathematicians, China could face more than 630,000 coronavirus infections a day if it dropped its zero-tolerance approach and followed other countries by lifting travel bans.

China, where the coronavirus first surfaced in Wuhan in late 2019 before it turned into a pandemic, has so far reported 98,631 cases and 4,636 deaths, the National Health Commission said on Sunday.

This included 785 patients still receiving treatment.

On Saturday, Chinese top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan warned that the new and more contagious coronavirus variant Omicron, reported in South Africa causing global alarm, may cause more challenges to the work of preventing and controlling the pandemic as the World Health Organization (WHO) said it carries a large number of mutations.

He said that about 76.8 per cent of China’s population have been vaccinated, laying a good basis for the country to reach the target of 80 per cent vaccination to build herd immunity by year end.

One of China’s major vaccine producers, Sinovac Biotech, told state-run Global Times that the company is paying close attention to Omicron and have tapped into a global partner network to collect and obtain information and samples specific to the mutant virus.

As the outbreak turned into a pandemic, China shut itself mostly with flight bans to most of the countries, including India, and did not permit thousands of foreign students, including 23,000 from India, studying in Chinese universities despite scathing criticism.

Earlier China had no option but to aim for zero infections because the coronavirus was replicating quickly and the global death rate of about 2 per cent was unacceptable, Zhong told state-run CGTN-TV.

In a report published in China CDC Weekly by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the four mathematicians from Peking University argued that China was not ready and could not afford to lift entry-exit quarantine measures without more efficient vaccinations or specific treatment.

Currently, people arriving from abroad have to undergo 21-day quarantine in designated hotels.

Using data for August from the US, Britain, Israel, Spain and France, the mathematicians looked at the potential results if China adopted similar pandemic response strategies to those used in the selected countries.

In August, most of these countries had presented higher vaccination rates than China, where 54 per cent of the eligible population were inoculated.

These countries also had a higher natural immunity ratio, despite having lower population densities than China.

The researchers estimated that China would have more than 637,155 daily confirmed cases if it went down the same pandemic strategy path as the US, which had an average of 150,098 daily cases towards the end of August.

The report said China would have had 275,793 cases if it took the same approach as Britain and 454,198 cases if it followed France.

“Our findings have raised a clear warning that, for the time being, we are not ready to embrace ‘opening-up strategies and rely solely on the hypothesis of herd immunity induced by vaccination advocated by certain Western countries,” Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted the report.

However, the study did acknowledge the estimates were based on basic arithmetic calculations and that more sophisticated dynamic models were needed to study the evolution of the pandemic if travel restrictions were lifted.

The researchers said that China would need a range of preparations in place – including more efficient vaccination coverage and specific treatment, different levels of non-pharmaceutical interventions and more hospital beds – before it could safely transition to opening-up strategies. 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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