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COVID-19

France donates 144,000 doses of AstraZeneca to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2021)

A consignment of AstraZeneca, donated by France to Afghanistan, was handed over to the Ministry of Public Health on Sunday.

The shipment includes 144,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which was donated through Kovacs.

Representing the Afghan government, Wazhma Salemi, Deputy Minister of Finance, thanked France for its assistance and said vaccinating the people against COVID-19 was the most effective way to reduce the number of infections.

Salemi added that this consignment of vaccine would be be used for the second round of vaccines for people who have already had their first shot.

She said coronavirus is a global problem and requires public mobilization. She called on all international partners and countries to cooperate with Afghanistan in the fight against the virus.

On the other hand, Thomas Guibert, Chargé d’Affaires of the French Embassy in Kabul, said that France decided to help after the start of the deadly third wave in the country.

Guibert added that his country has also cooperated with Afghan doctors in the field of vocational training, which will continue in the future.

This comes after the Afghan government also recently took delivery of vaccines from the United States, China, Sweden and India.

COVID-19

WHO urges Asia-Pacific to ready for Omicron-driven surge in infections

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(Last Updated On: December 3, 2021)

Asia-Pacific countries should boost their healthcare capacity and fully vaccinate their people to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases fuelled by the Omicron variant, Reuters quoting officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

First detected in southern Africa last month and dubbed a “variant of concern” by the WHO, scientists are still gathering data to establish how contagious Omicron is, and the severity of the illness it causes.

It has been reported in at least two dozen countries, and started gaining a foothold in Asia this week, with cases reported from Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and India. Many governments have responded by tightening travel rules, read the report.

“Border controls can buy time but every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases,” Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the western Pacific, told a virtual media briefing.

“People should not only rely on border measures. What is most important is to prepare for these variants with potential high transmissibility. So far the information available suggests we don’t have to change our approach,” Kasai said.

Kasai said countries must utilise lessons learned from dealing with the Delta variant and urged them to fully vaccinate vulnerable groups and implement preventive measures such as mask wearing and social distancing rules.

According to Reuters despite restrictions on international visitors, Australia became the latest country on Friday to report community transmission of Omicron, a day after it was found locally in five U.S. states.

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COVID-19

US braces as Omicron ‘almost definitely here’

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2021)

Americans have been advised to prepare to eventually encounter the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, but US health officials on Sunday said the travel ban starting Monday on most travelers from southern Africa should help buy time to assess any new risk.

“Well, it’s almost definitely here already, just looking at the number of cases coming off planes this weekend. It’s almost a certainty that there have been cases that have gotten into the United States.”

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday that while much is not known about the variant, vaccination remains key, Reuters reported.

“If you talk to people in vaccine circles, people who are working on a vaccine, they have a pretty good degree of confidence that a booster vaccine, so three full doses of vaccine, is going to be fairly protective against this new variant.”

Thirty percent of the US population remains unvaccinated – possibly undermining the nation’s recovery nearly two years after COVID-19’s emergence.

Rising cases as colder weather forces more people indoors have already overwhelmed some hospital systems and led some US states, including New York, to declare emergencies.

Omicron was first detected in southern Africa, igniting a flurry of travel bans restricting passengers from several southern African countries – something South African President Cyril Ramaphosa strongly pushed back against in a speech on Sunday.

“These restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries.”

The variant has now also been confirmed in Australia, Hong Kong, the U.K., Europe and the middle east.

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COVID-19

New coronavirus variant Omicron keeps spreading, Australia detects cases

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(Last Updated On: November 28, 2021)

The new Omicron coronavirus variant kept spreading around the world on Sunday, with two cases detected in Australia, even as more countries tried to seal themselves off by imposing travel restrictions.

Health officials in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, said two passengers who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday evening had tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Both people were asymptomatic, fully vaccinated and in quarantine, NSW Health said. Another 12 passengers from southern Africa were also in 14 days of hotel quarantine, while around 260 other passengers and aircrew have been directed to isolate.

The Australian cases were the latest indication that the variant may prove hard to contain. First discovered in South Africa, it has since been detected in Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong. Austria was investigating a suspected case on Sunday.

The discovery of Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” last week by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic.

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

Many countries have imposed a wave of travel bans.

In the most far-reaching effort to keep the variant at bay, Israel announced late on Saturday it would ban the entry of all foreigners and reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days. Officials hope that within that period there will be more information on how effective vaccines are against Omicron.

Many countries have imposed or are planning restrictions on travel from southern Africa. The South African government denounced this on Saturday as unfair and potentially harmful to its economy – saying it is being punished for its scientific ability to identify coronavirus variants early.

In Britain, where two linked cases of Omicron identified on Saturday were connected to travel to southern Africa, the government announced measures to try to contain the spread, including stricter testing rules for people arriving in the country and requiring mask wearing in some settings.

The German state of Bavaria also announced two confirmed cases of the variant on Saturday. In Italy, the National Health Institute said a case of the new variant had been detected in Milan in a person coming from Mozambique.

Although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating, many countries – including the United States, Brazil, Canada, European Union nation

Hanafi says that during 20 years of occupation there are 5 million addicts, among them 1 million are women and children.

Hanafi says that if TAPI project is implemented, Afghanistan will earn annually around $1 billion dollars through its transit rights.

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