Scientist admits Sweden could have battled virus better

Scientist admits Sweden could have battled virus better
State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden speaks during a news conference on a daily update on the coronavirus COVID-19 situation, in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday June 3, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

Scientist admits Sweden could have battled virus better

Scientist admits Sweden could have battled virus better
  • Sweden, a nation of 10.2 million people, has seen 4,468 deaths linked to COVID-19
  • Sweden has become one of the highest death rates per capita in the world

STOCKHOLM: Sweden’s chief epidemiologist showed contrition Wednesday as criticism mounted over the Scandinavian country’s hotly debated method of fighting the coronavirus, which has resulted in one of the highest death rates per capita in the world.
Sweden has stood out among European nations and the world for the way it has handled the pandemic, not shutting down the country or the economy like others but relying on citizens’ sense of civic duty. Swedish authorities have advised people to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants have been kept open the entire time. Only gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.
“I think there is potential for improvement in what we have done in Sweden, quite clearly,” Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency told Swedish radio.
Sweden, a nation of 10.2 million people, has seen 4,468 deaths linked to COVID-19, which is far more than its Nordic neighbors and one of the highest death rates per capita in the world. Denmark has had 580 coronavirus deaths, Finland has seen 320 and Norway has had 237, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
“If we were to encounter the same disease again, knowing precisely what we know about it today, I think we would settle on doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” said Tegnell, considered the architect of the unique Swedish pandemic approach.
Authorities in Sweden, including Tegnell, have been criticized — and have apologized — for failing to protect the country’s elderly and nursing home residents.
But Tegnell said Wednesday it was still unclear what the country should have done differently. He also said other nations are unable to tell exactly what measures affected the outcome of their outbreaks because they threw everything at it in one go.
“Maybe we know that now, when you start easing the measures, we could get some kind of lesson about what else, besides what we did, you could do without a total shutdown,” Tegnell said.
Asked if the country’s high death toll has made him reconsider his unique approach to the pandemic, Tegnell answered “yes, absolutely.”
“I’m not walking around thinking that we have a real disaster here in Sweden,” Jan Arpi, a 58-year-old sales executive, told The Associated Press. “I think we have it more or less under control, but we have to be even more careful now with the learning we have got from how the virus is spread, especially among the elderly people,”
Sweden’s infection rate is 43.24 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants is lower than Spain’s (58.06), and Italy’s (55.39), but is higher than the reported rates in the United States (32.14) and Brazil (14.29), according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Last week, the country’s former state epidemiologist, Annika Linde, said that in retrospect she believes an early lockdown could have saved lives while political pressure has forced the government to bring forward an investigation into the handling of the crisis.
The moves recommended by Tegnell have made Sweden a bit of a local pariah and didn’t spare the Swedish economy. More than 76,000 people have been made redundant since the outbreak began and unemployment, which now stands at 7.9%, is expected to climb higher.
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has said Sweden’s economy, which relies heavily on exports, will shrink 7% in 2020 and the Scandinavian country was headed for “a very deep economic crisis.”
Last week, neighboring Norway and Denmark said they were dropping mutual border controls but would keep Sweden out of a Nordic “travel bubble.”
Danes said they will reopen the border next month to residents of neighboring Germany, as well as to Norway and Iceland, as it accelerates the easing of its coronavirus lockdown. However, Denmark, which has a bridge that goes directly to Sweden, has postponed a decision on whether to reopen to Swedish visitors until after the summer.


Houthi militia fired 55 Iranian-made ballistic missiles at Marib since start of the year — Yemeni info. min.

Houthi militia fired 55 Iranian-made ballistic missiles at Marib since start of the year — Yemeni info. min.
Updated 3 min 57 sec ago

Houthi militia fired 55 Iranian-made ballistic missiles at Marib since start of the year — Yemeni info. min.

Houthi militia fired 55 Iranian-made ballistic missiles at Marib since start of the year — Yemeni info. min.

AMMAN: Yemen’s Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani said on Saturday that the Houthi militia targeted residential neighborhoods and displacement camps in Marib Governorate since the start of the year with more than 55 Iranian-made ballistic missiles, 12 drones, and three Katyusha missiles, six projectiles, and seven explosives.
Developing...


Countdown begins to Egypt-Saudi Arabia power link

Countdown begins to Egypt-Saudi Arabia power link
Updated 4 min 18 sec ago

Countdown begins to Egypt-Saudi Arabia power link

Countdown begins to Egypt-Saudi Arabia power link
CAIRO: Egypt’s electrical interconnection project with Saudi Arabia — a scheme that will increase grid capacity to 2,000 megawatts — will be launched shortly, according to Mohammed Shaker, Egyptian minister of electricity.
Speaking on the sidelines of the first forum of heads of African investment agencies in Sharm El-Sheikh on Saturday, Shaker said that tenders for the implementation of the project have been finalized but the winning company has yet to be announced.
Shaker said that a global consultant will undertake studies to adjust the paths of the power lines.
Transmission lines between the two countries will be established under the DC (direct current) system, the latest in Egypt and the Arab region, he said.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed a cooperation agreement in 2012 to establish the electrical interconnection project. 
The project will be the main axis in the Arab electrical linkage, which aims to create an infrastructure for electricity trade between Arab countries.
Shaker said that Egypt has become a center for electrical interconnection after dramatically increasing its power production, “thanks to the presidential support for plans.”

Plans for movie on New Zealand mosque attacks draw criticism

Hollywood news outlet Deadline reported that Australian actor Rose Byrne (L) was set to play Ardern, with New Zealander Andrew Niccol (R) writing and directing. (AP/File Photos)
Hollywood news outlet Deadline reported that Australian actor Rose Byrne (L) was set to play Ardern, with New Zealander Andrew Niccol (R) writing and directing. (AP/File Photos)
Updated 25 min 27 sec ago

Plans for movie on New Zealand mosque attacks draw criticism

Hollywood news outlet Deadline reported that Australian actor Rose Byrne (L) was set to play Ardern, with New Zealander Andrew Niccol (R) writing and directing. (AP/File Photos)
  • The movie would be set in the days after the 2019 attacks in which 51 people were killed at two Christchurch mosques

WELLINGTON: Tentative plans for a movie that recounts the response of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to a gunman's slaughter of Muslim worshippers drew criticism in New Zealand on Friday for not focusing on the victims of the attacks.
Hollywood news outlet Deadline reported that Australian actor Rose Byrne was set to play Ardern in the movie “They Are Us,” which was being shopped by New York-based FilmNation Entertainment to international buyers.
The movie would be set in the days after the 2019 attacks in which 51 people were killed at two Christchurch mosques.
Deadline said the movie would follow Ardern's response to the attacks and how people rallied behind her message of compassion and unity, and her successful call to ban the deadliest types of semiautomatic weapons.
The title of the movie comes from the words Ardern spoke in a landmark address soon after the attacks. At the time, Ardern was praised around the world for her response.
But many in New Zealand are raising concerns about the movie plans.
Aya Al-Umari, whose older brother Hussein was killed in the attacks, wrote on Twitter simply “Yeah nah,” a New Zealand phrase meaning “No.”
Abdigani Ali, a spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Canterbury, said the community recognized the story of the attacks needed to be told “but we would want to ensure that it’s done in an appropriate, authentic, and sensitive matter.”
Tina Ngata, an author and advocate, was more blunt, tweeting that the slaughter of Muslims should not be the backdrop for a film about "white woman strength. COME ON.”
Ardern’s office said in a brief statement that the prime minister and her government have no involvement with the movie.
Deadline reported that New Zealander Andrew Niccol would write and direct the project and that the script was developed in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy.
Niccol said the film wasn't so much about the attacks but more the response.
“The film addresses our common humanity, which is why I think it will speak to people around the world," Niccol told Deadline. "It is an example of how we should respond when there’s an attack on our fellow human beings.”
Byrne's agents and FilmNation did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The report said the project would be filmed in New Zealand but did not say when.
Niccol is known for writing and directing “Gattaca” and writing “The Terminal" and “The Truman Show,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar.
Byrne is known for roles in “Spy” and “Bridesmaids.”


Emirati, Greek firms launch joint venture to tackle maritime waste

Emirati, Greek firms launch joint venture to tackle maritime waste
Updated 12 June 2021

Emirati, Greek firms launch joint venture to tackle maritime waste

Emirati, Greek firms launch joint venture to tackle maritime waste
  • The joint venture, EvoGreen, will provide advanced maritime waste management services to preserve the region’s oceans

DUBAI: UAE waste management company Bee’ah and Greek sustainability firm Polygreen has launched a new company that will offer marine and environmental management solutions.

The joint venture, EvoGreen, will provide advanced maritime waste management services to preserve the region’s oceans, the UAE state news agency has reported.

“Evogreen will take the lead in promoting best practices in the maritime waste management industry and achieve remarkable outcomes for the UAE and wider region,” Salim bin Mohamed Al-Owais, Bee’ah chairman, said.

The new company has already established an alternative raw material facility in Bee’ah’s Sharjah complex. It processes maritime waste and marine-related hazardous waste to produce alternative materials for industrial use.

EvoGreen is currently building another facility that can process waste streams and convert materials into alternative fuel.

Both facilities will collect, recycle and recover hazardous and non-hazardous waste from ships visiting ports in the UAE.

“The launch of Evogreen is a milestone regarding the global effort to protect the environment and address the challenge of climate change,” Polygreen chief, Athanasios Polychronopoulos, said.

The company will also offer oil spill response services and management of distressed vessels, as well as recycling and recovery solutions.


Saudi Arabia records 16 COVID-19 deaths, 1,077 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 16 COVID-19 deaths, 1,077 new cases
Updated 12 June 2021

Saudi Arabia records 16 COVID-19 deaths, 1,077 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 16 COVID-19 deaths, 1,077 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 906 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • 8 mosques reopened in 3 regions after being sterilized after some people tested positive for coronavirus

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 16 new COVID-19 related deaths on Saturday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,553.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,077 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 464,780 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 10,267 remain active and 1,562 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Makkah with 348, followed by the capital Riyadh with 225, the Eastern Province with 149, Asir recorded 97, and Jazan confirmed 70 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 906 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 446,960.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened eight mosques in three regions after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after some people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 1,555 within 126 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 176 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.80 million.