Slovakia to restrict the unvaccinated to tame COVID surge

Slovakia to restrict the unvaccinated to tame COVID surge
Slovakia is planning to limit movement of unvaccinated people in an effort to tame the latest wave of coronavirus infections that has caused a “critical” situation in the country’s hospitals. (AP)
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Updated 16 November 2021

Slovakia to restrict the unvaccinated to tame COVID surge

Slovakia to restrict the unvaccinated to tame COVID surge
  • Among the proposed measures, people who have not been vaccinated will be banned from all non-essential stores
  • Unvaccinated people will be able to get into their workplaces with negative virus tests

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia: Slovakia is planning new restrictions on unvaccinated people in an effort to tame the latest surge of coronavirus infections that has caused a “critical” situation in the country’s hospitals, the prime minister said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his government will vote Thursday on the latest proposals by an advisory group of medical experts that will be effective for three weeks. Among the proposed measures, people who have not been vaccinated will be banned from all non-essential stores, shopping malls, gyms, pools and hotels. They also won’t be allowed to attend any mass public gatherings like sports events.
“The situation in hospitals is critical,” Heger said, adding that some hospitals are already at their limit for COVID-19 patients in their intensive care units and have been transferring new patients to other facilities.
Unvaccinated people will be able to get into their workplaces with negative virus tests.
If the situation doesn’t get any better in the next three weeks, the government is ready to impose even more restrictions, the prime minister said. He urged unvaccinated Slovaks to get their vaccine shots.
The number of COVID-10 patients needing hospital treatment rose to a total of 2,826, with 225 admitted on Monday alone, the Health Ministry said. Over 81 percent of the hospitalized have not been fully vaccinated.
Slovakia, one of the hardest-hit European Union countries, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the 27-nation bloc. Only about 45 percent of its nearly 5.5 million have been fully vaccinated.
In the latest surge, new coronavirus infections in Slovakia hit a record daily high of 7,244 cases on Friday.


Canada police shoot man in Toronto seen with rifle near school

Canada police shoot man in Toronto seen with rifle near school
Updated 25 sec ago

Canada police shoot man in Toronto seen with rifle near school

Canada police shoot man in Toronto seen with rifle near school
MONTREAL: Police in Canada’s largest city Toronto on Thursday fatally shot a man armed with a rifle, local media reported, in an incident that forced several schools into lockdown just two days after a deadly assault on a US primary school.
Bystanders alerted police to the man’s presence in an eastern neighborhood of Toronto, and the circumstances of what transpired next were not immediately clear.
But city police chief James Ramer told reporters that the suspect, described as a man in his late teens or early 20s, was dead after he had “confronted” responding officers, without elaborating.
The police force’s Twitter account said that after officers located the man, a “police firearm” was “discharged.”
A spokeswoman for the Special Investigations Unit told the CBC that preliminary evidence showed that two police officers had fired their weapons, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.
It was not clear if the man was holding the weapon when police shot him.
Ramer said he was unable to offer more details, as the incident was under investigation.
“There’s no threat to public safety,” he said.
“Due to the proximity to a school, I certainly understand the trauma and how traumatic this must have been for staff, students and parents, given recent events that have happened in the United States,” the chief added.
On Tuesday, a shooting at a Texas elementary school left 21 dead — 19 children and two teachers.

Home Office says a quarter of migrants crossing English Channel fleeing Afghanistan

Home Office says a quarter of migrants crossing English Channel fleeing Afghanistan
Updated 26 May 2022

Home Office says a quarter of migrants crossing English Channel fleeing Afghanistan

Home Office says a quarter of migrants crossing English Channel fleeing Afghanistan
  • Iranians and Iraqis combined make up almost a third of those seeking a better life in the UK
  • The BBC reported 1,094 Afghans made the dangerous crossing in the first three months of 2022

LONDON: One in four migrants crossing the English Channel in the first quarter of the year are people fleeing Afghanistan, according to figures released by the UK Home Office.
The BBC reported 1,094 Afghans made the dangerous crossing in the first three months of 2022, almost as many as the 1,323 Afghans that attempted the crossing in the entirety of 2021.
Iranians made up the next highest demographic at 16 percent, with Iraqis the third highest at 15 percent.
While the figures claim 90 percent of Afghans who made it to the UK were granted asylum, they do not include the UK’s two resettlement schemes set up in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the country in August.
The plans have faced criticism from politicians and sections of the public for leaving thousands of UK translators and others who worked for coalition forces behind after the UK withdrawal.
Compounding that failed operation, the numbers of non-Afghan refugees awaiting an asylum decision in the 12 months to March almost doubled from 66,000 to 109,000.
Refugee Council CEO Enver Solomon said: “Increased numbers waiting for a decision is desperately worrying, and it leaves thousands of vulnerable men, women and children trapped in limbo.
“Adults, banned from working, living hand to mouth on less than £6 ($7.55) and left not knowing what their future holds; this simply is not good enough,” he added.
Amnesty International has pointed the finger of blame for the backlog in asylum decisions at the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, accusing her of a “disastrous leadership” over a department that has become “a byword for backlogs and dysfunction”.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said it had “helped thousands” of people fleeing Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.


INTERVIEW: LDP heavyweight Amari reaffirms importance of ties with Middle East

INTERVIEW: LDP heavyweight Amari reaffirms importance of ties with Middle East
Updated 26 May 2022

INTERVIEW: LDP heavyweight Amari reaffirms importance of ties with Middle East

INTERVIEW: LDP heavyweight Amari reaffirms importance of ties with Middle East
  • Amari says Saudi Arabia and UAE are “two irreplaceable countries for Japanese people’s lives and industrial activities”
  • Japan imports almost the same amount of oil from Saudi Arabia and the UAE

TOKYO: Veteran ruling-party politician Amari Akira says Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are “two irreplaceable countries for Japanese people’s lives and industrial activities.”
Amari is the Honorary Chairman of the Parliamentary Friendship Council and has close ties with the Middle East. He has played a key role in Japan’s energy policy, and he emphasized the importance of those ties.
“Japan imports almost the same amount of oil from Saudi Arabia and the UAE; it’s around 35 percent, and the total from both countries amounts to over 70 percent,” he stated. “They are two irreplaceable countries for Japanese people’s lives and industrial activities. A stable energy supply is the lifeblood of Japan. In that sense, the Middle East is connected to this lifeline.”
Amari recalled chairing an international conference in Saudi Arabia.
“I met with current Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, both in Japan and Saudi Arabia when he was deputy minister of Oil,” he said.
“When I was eating with him, I said: “I heard that the starry sky seen in the desert in Saudi Arabia is very beautiful since the air is so clean. I heard it’s as wonderful as to see the stars falling, so I want to see it someday.”
Minister Abdulaziz replied: ‘The next time you come, I will set up a tent in the desert, so please come and let’s see the starry night sky together.’
“I replied to him that it is a good plan, but I can’t eat sheep’s brains, but Minister Abdulaziz told me not to worry. He said, when he is in Japan, he eats everything, so why not try Saudi food; it would not be good manners not to. Of course, he was joking. Through such casual exchanges, I feel that the Middle East is close to me.”
Amari was a key backroom player behind the political success of Prime Minister Kishida, Secretary General Motegi, Foreign Minister Hayashi and the Secretary General of the Upper House and is keen for them to lead Japan forward.
“What we need to do now is to lead a new team once again to make a Japan with innovative power,” he said. “I am doing university reform, which is the source of basic research. I also created a 10 trillion yen fund to promote university reform. We will also create an area in Tokyo for international start-ups representing Asia.”
Amari also talked about his visit 15 to 17 May to the UAE where he was the special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Japan to officially pay respect to the people of the UAE on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the former president of the UAE.
“I was honored to be able to pay my respects to such an important country as a special envoy to the prime minister. President Sheikh Khalifa pushed the UAE forward under the influence of his founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. When Sheikh Khalifa was Crown Prince in 1970, he visited the Osaka Expo, and since then the bond between Japan and the UAE has deepened. Also, UAE is a country with a special relationship that supports Japan’s energy.”


Tokyo government reaffirms connections to Islamic countries

Tokyo government reaffirms connections to Islamic countries
Updated 26 May 2022

Tokyo government reaffirms connections to Islamic countries

Tokyo government reaffirms connections to Islamic countries
  • Japan and the followers of Islam have long enjoyed friendly relations in various fields
  • Forty-nine Islamic countries and regions were invited and 27 attended the meeting

TOKYO: Diplomats from Islamic countries and regions took part in a Tokyo policy briefing and discussion meeting at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office on Wednesday.
Tokyo Gov. KOIKE Yuriko, who has strong ties with Arabic and Islamic countries, made the opening remarks.
“It is a great pleasure and honor to welcome you to the ‘Tokyo Networking.’ I am very pleased to have you here in person this year after two years of cancelations due to COVID-19.
“These two years have been a long battle against the virus. Through regular communication with you, we have been able to keep it from spreading extensively. Thank you everyone for your enormous cooperation,” Governor Koike said.
“Japan and the followers of Islam have long enjoyed friendly relations in various fields. It is my sincere hope that good relations with your countries will continue.”
Forty-nine Islamic countries and regions were invited and 27 attended the meeting.
Palestinian Ambassador Waleed Siam made a speech as a representative of the diplomats.
“Today, we are here to participate and support the Tokyo Metropolitan Initiative for improvement of the environment for the multi-faith community,” he said. “The Muslim community is an important and large part of society as a whole.
“Thanks to Gov. Koike’s efforts who started Iftar in Tokyo 15 years ago, it has since been held every year (except during the pandemic).”


Philippines president-elect says Duterte urged him to uphold ‘war on drugs’

Philippines president-elect says Duterte urged him to uphold ‘war on drugs’
Updated 27 May 2022

Philippines president-elect says Duterte urged him to uphold ‘war on drugs’

Philippines president-elect says Duterte urged him to uphold ‘war on drugs’
  • Outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte began a crackdown on drug suspects when he assumed power in 2016
  • Between 12,000 and 30,000 suspects have been killed since, international rights groups estimate

MANILA: Philippines president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Thursday that his predecessor had asked him to uphold his “war on drugs,” a controversial anti-narcotics campaign that has led to the deaths of thousands of Filipinos.

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte began a crackdown on drug suspects when he assumed power in 2016.

According to official data, over 6,000 Filipinos have been killed in the anti-drug campaign. International rights groups estimate the death toll to be between 12,000 and 30,000.

In the first media address since his proclamation as the next president, Marcos said that Duterte told him it was important that the campaign continue.

“I fully appreciate what he said,“ the new leader told reporters. “The drug problem in the country continues to be a problem and we must continue to look that way.”

He said that Duterte had told him to proceed with the campaign on his own terms.

“‘Continue the anti-drug (war) that I started. Do it your own way. Do what you want with it, just don’t set it aside because it will be the youth who will suffer. Their lives would be ruined,’” he added, quoting Duterte.

The Philippines has come under pressure from the UN to investigate allegations of systematic killings as part of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

International Criminal Court investigators launched a probe into the war on drugs in September last year, saying it appeared to have been “a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population,” and could amount to a crime against humanity.

The inquiry was suspended two months later to assess a deferral request from the Philippines government and has not resumed since.

Marcos, the son and namesake of the late Philippines dictator, and his running mate Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the incumbent president, were declared winners of a May 9 election, succeeding Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo, who will complete their six-year terms on June 30.

It was not immediately clear how Marcos plans to implement the anti-drug campaign, but one of his electoral promises was a continuation of Duterte’s policies.

The incoming administration’s nominated executive and press secretaries did not respond to repeated attempts on Thursday to reach them.