New Zealand COVID-19 death rate at record levels

New Zealand COVID-19 death rate at record levels
New Zealanders are dying from COVID-19 at record rates as the country battles a new wave of the Omicron strain that is particularly affecting the older population. (AFP)
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Updated 22 July 2022

New Zealand COVID-19 death rate at record levels

New Zealand COVID-19 death rate at record levels
  • Deaths from the virus reached 151 in the seven days to July 16
  • In the latest 24 hours, 26 people died from COVID, all aged over 60

WELLINGTON: New Zealanders are dying from COVID-19 at record rates as the country battles a new wave of the omicron strain that is particularly affecting the older population.
Deaths from the virus reached 151 in the seven days to July 16, compared with 115 in the worst week of the previous wave, in March, according to Health Ministry data. In the latest 24 hours, 26 people died from COVID, all aged over 60, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The omicron BA.5 sub-variant is driving the current wave in New Zealand, which has 5.1 million people. There have been 64,780 active cases in the past seven days, although authorities say many infections are unreported.
Once regarded as a model for preventing COVID infection, New Zealand’s swift response to the pandemic and its geographic isolation kept it largely free from the virus until the end of last year.
The government dropped its zero-COVID policy this year once the population was largely vaccinated. Since then the virus has been allowed to spread.
Emergency departments, general practices and medical centers are under pressure. However, Health Ministry data shows hospitalization levels remain below those seen during the March peak.
The government is resisting pressure from some doctors to reinstate curbs on public gatherings or mandate the wearing of masks at schools.
However, Education Ministry chief Iona Holsted said on Thursday the ministry had advised schools to enforce the wearing of masks as much as practicable when children returned from holidays next week.
“We understand that implementing mask policies can be a challenge but ask that you take action to strengthen your mask wearing policy as soon as possible,” she said.


Biden says ‘no’ to US sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

Biden says ‘no’ to US sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine
Updated 24 sec ago

Biden says ‘no’ to US sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

Biden says ‘no’ to US sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine
  • Ukraine’s leaders have said that the F-16s are at the top of their latest weapons wish list
WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden said Monday he will not be sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help its war against Russian invaders.
“No,” he said when asked by reporters at the White House if he was in favor of sending the jets, which Ukraine’s leaders have said are at the top of their latest weapons wish list.

Herders in Ethiopia forced to give up their nomadic existence

Herders in Ethiopia forced to give up their nomadic existence
Updated 31 min 55 sec ago

Herders in Ethiopia forced to give up their nomadic existence

Herders in Ethiopia forced to give up their nomadic existence
  • Drought has plunged 12 million people into ‘acute food insecurity’ in Ethiopia, UN says

KELAFO: Mohammed Hassan Gureh has made up his mind: He’s going to sell the last of his goats and leave his village to find a new life.

Like many herders in the east of Ethiopia, he has been forced to give up his nomadic existence after seeing his livestock decimated by drought.

The 32-year-old says he can no longer bear seeing his animals die. Out of a herd of 250 goats, only 35 are left.

And in his village of El Gel, in a corner of the Somali region of Ethiopia not far from the border with Somalia, two-thirds of the animals have been wiped out.

Gureh, like other nomadic herders across the Horn of Africa, has been waiting desperately for more than two years for rains that have not come.

The last five rainy seasons since the end of 2020 have failed, triggering the worst drought in four decades in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. And the next rainy season, from March to May, is also expected to be below average.

According to the UN, drought has plunged 12 million people into “acute food insecurity” in Ethiopia alone, where a deadly conflict has also ravaged the north of the country.

More than 4.5 million livestock have died since 2021 and another 30 million “weakened and emaciated” animals are at risk, the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA said in a January 18 report.

Gureh waited and prayed, but he has had to face the grim reality. “There is no sign of improvement. I think the drought will continue and get worse over time.” So he has decided to sell his goats before it is too late.

With the small amount of money he’ll make from a sale, he plans to leave El Gel and head to the nearby town of K’elafo, hoping he will finally be able to support his wife, his four children, his blind father and his crippled mother.

His plans are vague: He will probably try to eke out a living as a small-time trader selling charcoal, firewood or incense.

“I also want to start adult education and develop my skills in order to find employment opportunities,” he says.

“It’s a very difficult decision to move from a life as a goatherd to a new way of life that I don’t know ... But I have no other option.”


Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers
Updated 55 min 56 sec ago

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers
  • Fartun Abdirashid, wife of Abdiqadir Mumin, head of the Daesh group, was sentenced on Monday at a military court

MOGADISHU: A military tribunal in Somalia has sentenced the wife of the head of a terrorist organization linked to Daesh to eight years in prison for passing on information and organizing financial transactions for the group, a military official said on Monday.

Fartun Abdirashid, wife of Abdiqadir Mumin, head of the Daesh group, was sentenced on Monday at a military court.

She has been under custody since her arrest in March last year in the capital, Mogadishu.

Abdirashid was accused of frequently transferring $100 to $200 to the group’s members, the public prosecutor’s office said.

She had a working relationship with Bilal Al-Sudaani, a senior Daesh official who was killed on Wednesday in a US raid in Somalia’s northern Bari region.

Mumin, a former Al-Shabab cleric, pledged his allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in 2015.

Daesh holds a smaller footprint in Somalia compared to the Al-Shabab terrorist group that has carried out numerous attacks in the country.

Somalia’s forces are carrying out an offensive against Al-Shabab that has been described at the most significant in more than a decade.

The first US Cabinet member to visit Somalia since 2015 urged the world’s distracted donors to give immediate help to a country facing deadly famine, which she calls “the ultimate failure of the international community.”


Young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Japan by Foreign Ministry

File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
Updated 30 January 2023

Young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Japan by Foreign Ministry

File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
  • Four Israelis and four Palestinians were invited to Japan as part of Japan’s efforts to realize a “two-state solution”

TOKYO: Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is hosting a group of Palestinians and Israelis as part of the 2022 Israeli-Palestinian Joint Youth Invitation Program.

Four Israelis and four Palestinians were invited to Japan as part of Japan’s efforts to realize a “two-state solution” by establishing a future “Palestinian state” alongside Israel.

The program with the youths “aims to provide a forum for building mutual trust and deepen understanding of Japan’s efforts toward peace in the Middle East, foreign policy, economy and culture.”

The invitation program is now in its 23rd year and more than 220 people have been invited from Israel and Palestine.

During their stay, the delegation will visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, exchange opinions with the students, and tour Tokyo and local cities, including Kyoto and Hiroshima.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan. Click here to read it.


Three injured in knife attack near EU Brussels headquarters

Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
Updated 30 January 2023

Three injured in knife attack near EU Brussels headquarters

Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
  • The suspected attacker was known to police for “psychiatric problems,” a source close to the investigation said

BRUSSELS: Three people were injured, one seriously, in a knife attack Monday in a metro station near the European Union headquarters in Brussels, officials said, adding that the attacker had been arrested.
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said the man was speedily detained due to coordinated police action at the Schuman metro station.
Police said one of the injured was in “critical condition.”
The suspected attacker was known to police for “psychiatric problems,” a source close to the investigation said.
The attack took place at rush hour around 6:00 pm.
European Union chief Charles Michel, a former Belgian prime minister, thanked the police in a tweet and said his thoughts were with the victims.
An AFP journalist at the site said a woman told people not to enter the station, saying there was a man inside armed with a knife as police rushed in.
Traffic was interrupted on the line.