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COVID-19 is not just seasonal, as ‘first wave’ continues

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coronavirus people

The COVID-19 virus is likely not impacted by the changing seasons like other respiratory diseases, the UN health agency said on Tuesday, before urging much greater respect for physical distancing measures to stop it spreading.

“The season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus”, said Dr. Margaret Harris, World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson, highlighting many people’s “fixed” belief to the contrary.

“What is affecting the transmission is mass gatherings, it’s people coming together, and people not social distancing, not taking the precautions to ensure they are not in close contact.”

Globally, WHO has reported as on Tuesday morning Geneva time, 16,301,736 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 650,069 deaths.

Hotspots

The Americas remains the epicentre by region, with more than 8.7 million cases, followed by Europe (3.2 million), South-East Asia (1.8 million), Eastern Mediterranean (1.5 million), Africa (712,920) and Western Pacific (291,993).

During a scheduled virtual press conference, Dr. Harris noted that the biggest outbreak “with the most intense, the highest numbers”, remained the US, where it is the middle of summer.

Brazil had also seen high infection rates, despite being an equatorial country, the WHO spokesperson continued.

‘Later’ flu season in Global South

Turning to countries in the global south, Dr Harris noted that winter was underway there, with samples tested, indicating “high” COVID infection rates but low influenza traces. “Now the interesting thing is we are seeing from those samples, high levels of COVID, but we’re not seeing high levels of influenza at the moment. So, we’re expecting a later flu season in the southern hemisphere.”

The development is in line with WHO’s latest influenza update indicating that globally, influenza activity is currently at lower-than-expected levels.

In temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, influenza activity has “returned to inter-seasonal levels”.

In Caribbean, Central American, South American, tropical African, Southern Asia and South East Asia countries, the WHO bulletin reported that there have been only sporadic or no cases detected.

Assessing the impact on countries finding themselves having to tackle both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time, the WHO spokesperson debated whether a “melange” of respiratory diseases might prove problematic.

“That would be a concern, because if you have an increase in respiratory illness when you already have a very high burden of respiratory illness, that puts even more pressure on the health system,” she said.

‘One big wave’

Dr Harris also pushed back on the perception that a respiratory illness might come and go in several waves.

“It’s going to be one big wave”, she said. “It’s going to go up and down a bit…the best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something that is lapping at your feet. But at the moment, first, second, third wave, these things don’t really make sense and we’re not really defining it that way.”

Asked about the WHO’s stance on charging for COVID-19 testing, the WHO official explained that this was a decision governed by countries alone. “Now we do everything we can to encourage all countries to test, because testing is absolutely essential,” she said. “You don’t know where your outbreak is if you’re not testing people. And we also encourage all countries to make access to testing wide and available”.

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Human Rights

UN: Stop evictions in East Jerusalem neighbourhood immediately

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A little boy stands on the remains of his family's demolished home in the West Bank. (file photo) UNRWA/Lara Jonasdottir

The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR), on Friday, called on Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions, including those in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, as well as to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force while ensuring safety and security there.

Eight Palestinian refugee families residing in Sheikh Jarrah are facing forced eviction due to a legal challenge by the Nahalat Shimon settler organization, with the risk “imminent” for four of the families, according to the office.

OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said that the evictions, if ordered and implemented, would violate Israel’s obligations under international law.

“Given the disturbing scenes in Sheikh Jarrah over the past few days, we wish to emphasize that East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which International Humanitarian Law applies. The occupying Power must respect and cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory, and must respect, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.”

He went on to note that Israel cannot impose its own set of laws in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, to evict Palestinians from their homes.

On Thursday, Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, also urged Israel to stop demolitions and evictions in the neighbourhood, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.

Prohibited under international law

“In addition, the Absentee Property Law and the Legal and Administrative Matters Law are applied in an inherently discriminatory manner, based solely on the nationality or origin of the owner”, OHCHR spokesperson Colville said.

“In practice, the implementation of these laws facilitates the transfer by Israel of its population into occupied East Jerusalem. The transfer of parts of an occupying Power’s civilian population into the territory that it occupies is prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime”, he added.

Violation of right to adequate housing

The OHCHR spokesperson also said that forced evictions could violate the rights to adequate housing and to privacy and other human rights of those who are evicted.

“Forced evictions are a key factor in creating a coercive environment that may lead to forcible transfer, which is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a grave breach of the Convention.”

Mr. Colville also called on Israel to respect freedom of expression and assembly, including of those who are protesting against the evictions, and to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force while ensuring safety and security in East Jerusalem.

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Health & Wellness

WHO approves Chinese COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

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A COVID-19 vaccine produced in China has been given the green light for global rollout, potentially paving the way for its use in underserved countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday. 

The UN agency has approved the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use, which is a prerequisite for inclusion in the global vaccine solidarity initiative, COVAX.  

The vaccine is easy to store, making it suitable for locations with limited resources, and proved 79 per cent effective in clinical trials. 

“The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk”, said Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products.  

“We urge the manufacturer to participate in the COVAX Facility and contribute to the goal of more equitable vaccine distribution.” 

A vaccine first 

The Sinopharm vaccine is produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG).   

It is the first vaccine to carry a vaccine vial monitor. The vials have a small sticker that changes colour as the vaccine is exposed to heat, so health workers know whether it can be safely used. 

The vaccine is recommended for adults 18 and older, with a two-dose schedule spaced over a period of three to four weeks. 

Although few people over 60 participated in the clinical trials, WHO did not recommend an upper age limit for use as data suggests the vaccine is likely to have a protective effect in older persons.   

Safely expediting vaccines 

WHO emergency use listing (EUL) allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines. 

The EUL process assesses the suitability of new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics during public health emergencies.  

The goal is to make them available as rapidly as possible, while maintaining strict criteria of safety, efficacy and quality. 

The Sinopharm vaccine is the sixth to receive the EUL approval.  The others are by Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) and Moderna.

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Finance

Reasons for Choosing Temporary and Permanent Industrial Buildings

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Professional temporary solution providers have become very innovative in designing industrial buildings. While temporary industrial structures are made of lighter materials such as aluminum and fabric or PVC covers, permanent solutions are made of steel or metal frames and sheets. All of them require good preparation of the ground, pre-fabrication of the frames and sheets, and proper installation to serve their purpose well.

Most beneficiaries of these structures are processing factories, manufacturing plants, sports clubs, schools, and many other organizations and companies. Choosing temporary and permanent industrial buildings from a reputable supplier has many perks.

So, let us dive into the reasons for choosing temporary and permanent industrial buildings to understand this topic better.

Amazing Speed of Constructions

Bye-bye brick and mortar industrial buildings that are time-consuming. Temporary and permanent industrial buildings are the way to go because they are fast and easy to fabricate and install using modern technology.

According to experts, these structures save a lot of time, especially if the frames and panels are already fabricated in the factory. Companies that need to set up new companies or expand the current ones will have everything ready in a matter of a few weeks.

Excellent Cost Saving

The economy is hard enough and the investor needs to save on capital when setting up companies or doing expansions. The good news is that temporary and permanent industrial buildings save costs by up to 30% when done by a professional company.

Smart-Space is not only innovative in their technology but they save you a lot of money when setting up your industrial structures. You can rent these structures if you only need them for a short time to save more money.

Absolute Flexibility and Versatility

If you are looking for structures that can be moved after a few years, then temporary and permanent industrial buildings are the way to go. As mentioned, they are made of frames and panels that are fastened together using bolts. Hence, they are easy to dismantle and move to a different location.

However, this work should be done by professionals to reduce damage and ensure the safety of the structures at all times.

High Level of Customization

If you are looking for functional sizes and unique designs that will maintain the theme of your company or organization, the temporary and permanent industrial buildings done by experts will be best. After a discussion of what will serve your business well, the solution provider will take a few days to do the designs with your preferred sizes and colors.

Customization also applies during the extension of an existing factory where everything is done to your preference or in the best possible way. To achieve a high level of customization, you should consider experienced solution providers.

Surprising Durability

Both temporary and permanent industrial buildings are surprisingly durable. Take steel industrial structures for example. They provide service for many years without the need for complicated maintenance. Since steel does not rust, the structure will withstand harsh weather conditions including moisture.

Structures made of metal frames and fabric are equally durable, especially when used as recommended. They also require low maintenance with no paintwork needed after every few years.

Manufacturer’s Warranty

The buyers of temporary and permanent industrial buildings enjoy different manufacturer’s warranty benefits. This could be the bought structures or the materials used to make them. What’s more is that many reputable service providers also give warranties on the workmanship, which will save cost when there is a problem.

Conclusion

To enjoy all of these benefits, it is good to buy or lease your temporary and permanent industrial buildings from a reliable and trusted supplier. Well, there are even more benefits that you will realize once you start using these structures. So, make the right choice now.

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