UAE reports 2,950 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

Emiratis shop at the Dubai grand market, in the Gulf city of Dubai, on Jan. 6, 2021. (AFP)
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Emiratis shop at the Dubai grand market, in the Gulf city of Dubai, on Jan. 6, 2021. (AFP)
Members of UAE Team Emirates, including Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar (pictured), received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UAE. (WAM)
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Members of UAE Team Emirates, including Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar (pictured), received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UAE. (WAM)
Members of UAE Team Emirates received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UAE. (WAM)
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Members of UAE Team Emirates received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UAE. (WAM)
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Updated 09 January 2021

UAE reports 2,950 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

UAE reports 2,950 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
  • UAE says 2,218 have recovered over the past 24 hours
  • Kuwait records 495 cases and 2 deaths, Bahrain reports 397 cases and 1 death

DUBAI: The UAE on Friday recorded 2,950 new coronavirus cases and three virus-related deaths.
Officials from the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) said the total number of cases since the pandemic began had reached 224,704, while the death toll rose to 697.
It also said that 2,218 people had recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours. The total number of recoveries is 201,396.
G42 Healthcare, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Group 42, has conducted a genome sequencing study that has identified the genomic source of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The new expanded study contributes to monitoring and identifying patterns of spread and developments of the virus since its first cases were recorded in the UAE. The full study will be published after its preparation as a comprehensive research paper,” the artificial intelligence company said on its website.
Ashish Koshy, CEO of G42 Healthcare, said: “Our genomics technology and scalable expertise strongly support the UAE’s national genome project, while also underpinning our groundbreaking work during the pandemic, which has enabled us to create unmatched solutions that will change the face of the health care sector for the better.”
The study provides additional information and data that will help monitor changes of the virus genome, “which will positively affect the country’s capabilities in facing any future epidemics.”
MoHAP said that 53,859 people had received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 941,556, in line with the Emirate’s plan to inoculate more than half the country’s population, especially the elderly and individuals with chronic diseases.
Meanwhile, riders and staff members of UAE Team Emirates, the cycling team that won Tour de France 2020, received the first dose of China’s Sinopharm vaccine approved by MoHAP, following successful trials of the 4Humanity campaign sponsored by G42 Healthcare.

So far, 27 cyclists have received the vaccine, including Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar, who won the 2020 Tour de France, along with 32 members of staff.
“As a UAE team we are enormously proud of the efforts the nation and its leadership have taken at every level to both combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to be a leader in the efforts to bring life back to normal,” said Mauro Gianetti, principal of the UAE team.

During daily inspection tours, Dubai Economy issued a fine to one commercial establishment for failing to adhere to anti-COVID-19 measures. Inspection teams found 566 other businesses to be compliant.
The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Police, distributed 150,000 face masks and more than 16,000 jackets to workers at industrial cities, as part of efforts to support community segments that were most affected by the pandemic.

Elsewhere, Kuwait reported 495 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number to 153,473. The death toll rose to 940 after two coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the previous 24 hours.

In Bahrain, one death was reported, raising the death toll to 354, while 397 new infected cases were confirmed.


Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border
Updated 58 min 58 sec ago

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border
  • Poland has sealed off the region along its frontier with Belarus to outsiders as it has sought to keep out thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa
  • Humanitarian groups reported that the Iraqi girl was separated from her parents after they breached the border into Poland on Monday

WARSAW: A four-year-old Iraqi migrant girl went missing in an icy forest after being separated from her parents in a scuffle with Polish border guards, humanitarian groups said as they pressed for access to the border region to help find the child.
Poland has sealed off the region along its frontier with Belarus to outsiders as it has sought to keep out thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa who traveled to Belarus in the hope of crossing into European Union territory.
The EU accuses Belarus of flying them into the country and then pushing them to cross into Poland and — to a lesser extent — Lithuania and Latvia in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Minsk over human rights abuses.
Humanitarian groups reported on Wednesday that the Iraqi girl, called Eileen, was separated from her parents after they breached the border into Poland on Monday night.
They said the parents handed their daughter to another adult migrant when Polish border guards approached and pushed them back into Belarus, and the girl was last seen with the person accompanying her near the Polish frontier village of Nowy Dwor.
“This girl is probably either already dead or will die very soon. The most dramatic thing is that if it was a Polish child, the whole country would be looking for her,” Kasia Kosciesza from the Families without Borders charity group said.
“The search should have started as soon as they knew of the situation...Chances are diminishing, night is setting in again and temperatures will start falling, so if we want to rescue her, it needs to happen immediately.”
Border Guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska said servicemen started searching for the girl as soon as they received information she was missing around midday on Tuesday.
“Extra patrols were directed to the area where the girl was supposed to be. We also searched from the air using helicopters, but we found no one,” Michalska said.
Campaigners said the authorities’ efforts were inadequate.
Under new rules introduced after a state of emergency in the migrant crisis expired last week, activists who are not resident in the border area cannot enter to help with any search.
International organizations have accused Poland’s right-wing nationalist government of breaching humanitarian standards in forcing some migrants back into Belarus, a charge Warsaw denies.


Iraq takes back 100 IS fighters from Syria Kurdish forces

Iraq takes back 100 IS fighters from Syria Kurdish forces
Updated 08 December 2021

Iraq takes back 100 IS fighters from Syria Kurdish forces

Iraq takes back 100 IS fighters from Syria Kurdish forces
  • “This morning we collected 100 terrorists” held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, General Abdul Amir Al-Shammari told AFP
  • The SDF alliance has led the anti-Daesh fight with the support of a coalition led by Washington

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities Wednesday repatriated 100 Iraqi fighters from the Daesh group who were being held by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, a senior Iraqi security official said.
“This morning we collected 100 terrorists” held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters in Syria, General Abdul Amir Al-Shammari told AFP.
The militants “have been handed over to the intelligence services for questioning,” said Shammari, deputy commander of Joint Operations which coordinates between Iraqi security forces and the international anti-militant coalition.
The SDF alliance has led the anti-Daesh fight with the support of a coalition led by Washington.
It previously handed over about 100 Iraqi Daesh fighters to Baghdad in February and again in September, according to Iraqi security sources.
The Syrian Kurdish administration, which controls large swathes of northeast Syria, has at times been reluctant to communicate on issues related to Daesh fighters or their families held by Kurdish forces in prisons or camps in Syria.
In 2019, the SDF had handed over about 900 Iraqis to Baghdad, most of them captured while trying to flee the last remaining Daesh strongholds in Syria, according to Iraqi judicial sources.
Daesh, after occupying vast territories in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2017, suffered one setback after another.
In late 2017, Iraq announced “victory” after driving the Daesh from all urban areas. By March 2019, the Daesh had lost all its strongholds in Syria.
Some 1,600 Iraqis suspected of having fought for Daesh are still being held by the SDF, according to a UN report.
Thousands of civilians are also being held in internally displaced people’s camps such as Al-Hol, which houses more than 60,000 people, half of whom are Iraqis.
Iraq has already prosecuted thousands of its nationals for membership in the Daesh, a crime punishable by death under an anti-terrorism law.
Hundreds have been sentenced to death, but few executions have been carried out as the prison administration has to obtain a presidential order to put them to death.


Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal
Updated 08 December 2021

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal
  • "This is really the last chance for Iran to sign up,” said Liz Truss

LONDON: British foreign minister Liz Truss urged Iran on Wednesday to sign up to the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it was “the last chance” to do, just a day before talks were expected to resume.
“This is really the last chance for Iran to sign up and I strongly urge them to do that because we are determined to work with our allies to prevent Iran securing nuclear weapons,” she told the Chatham House think tank.
“So they do need to sign up to the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) agreement, it’s in their interests to do so.”


Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace
Updated 08 December 2021

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace
  • The coalition also carried out 16 operations in Marib, killing over 95 Houthi fighters

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Wednesday it intercepted and destroyed two drones in Yemeni airspace, one of which was monitored and launched from Sanaa airport.
“We are in the process of implementing strict operational measures to deal with the sources of the threat,” Saudi state TV reported citing the coalition.
Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said it carried out 16 operations targeting the Houthi militia in Marib in the last 24 hours.
It said 95 militants were killed and 11 Houthi military vehicles were destroyed during the operation.
The coalition has stepped up operations targeting Houthi military targets after an increase in cross-border attacks in recent days aimed at Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom’s defense ministry said Saudi air defenses intercepted and destroyed a hostile air target in the early hours of the morning that was headed toward the western region.
Spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said that the ministry “is taking all necessary measures and precautions to protect the security and safety of the Kingdom and protect its national capabilities, as well as civilians and civilian objects.”
He also said that the ministry “will take deterrent and resolute measures to stop such cross-border hostilities.” a statement on Saudi Press Agency reported.


Libyan political body calls for election delay as disputes grow

Libyan political body calls for election delay as disputes grow
Updated 08 December 2021

Libyan political body calls for election delay as disputes grow

Libyan political body calls for election delay as disputes grow
  • The High State Council’s statement comes less than three weeks before the vote
  • The electoral commission has not yet announced a final list of candidates for the presidential race

TRIPOLI: A Libyan political body on Wednesday called for a Dec. 24 presidential election to be delayed to February amid growing jostling over the rules and legal basis of a vote aimed at ending a decade of instability.
The statement by the High State Council (HSC), an advisory body installed through a 2015 peace agreement but not recognized by all other Libyan political entities, comes less than three weeks before the vote.
In Libya’s complex, fractured political environment the extent of the HSC’s powers is debated, but its statement adds to the doubts surrounding the election.
The electoral commission has not yet announced a final list of candidates for the presidential race following a fractious process of court appeals over the eligibility of the 98 who registered to run.
The arguments over some highly divisive candidates, including major figures from Libya’s conflict, have already threatened to torpedo the contest.
Those disputes revealed deeper disagreements over the basis for a voting process that has already diverged from both the UN-backed roadmap that set the vote and a controversial election law issued in September by the parliament speaker.
The roadmap envisaged the election as a way to end disputes over the legitimacy of Libya’s rival political bodies, which were formed during earlier transitional periods following the 2011 revolution that ousted Muammar Qaddafi.
The HSC was drawn from members of a national assembly elected in 2012 who rejected the results of a 2014 election that created the current parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR).
Despite the 2015 political agreement that enshrined a legislative role for the HoR and an advisory role for the HSC, they do not formally recognize each other, though they have held sporadic peace negotiations in Morocco.
Some Libyans fear the disputes over the current election process could trigger a similar crisis to that surrounding the 2014 vote, when Libya split between warring eastern and western factions with parallel administrations in Tripoli and Benghazi.
The HSC statement on Wednesday said the presidential and parliamentary elections should both take place on the same day, as was originally demanded by the UN roadmap.
Laws issued in September and October by HoR speaker Aguila Saleh, a presidential candidate, set a first round presidential vote for Dec. 24 but delayed the parliamentary vote.
Saleh’s critics accuse him of issuing the laws without a quorum or a proper vote in parliament and after intimidation against some members. Saleh and his allies deny wrongdoing and say the laws were passed properly.