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Portuguese in South Africa consider new variant of Covid-19 an “earthquake” – Observer

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The Portuguese community in South Africa is following the evolution of a new variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 found in the country with “great concern”, affecting businesses such as travel with concern. “It turns out to be an earthquake,” said Luce Silverio Silva, chief adviser to the Council of Portuguese Communities (CPC) in that country.

This Friday, the European Union decided to temporarily suspend flights from seven countries in southern Africa, including Mozambique and South Africa, due to the detection in South Africa of a variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, which has mutated heavily. A similar decision has been made by several other countries such as the UK, Canada, Israel or the Philippines.

Portugal has already suspended flights to and from Mozambique since Monday, but from 00:00 this Saturday, all passengers on flights from Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Essuatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe “are required to complete a 14-day quarantine upon entering mainland Portugal , at home or in a place designated by the health authorities, ”the government said.

“The Portuguese community is intimidated, especially those who wanted to travel or send people to spend December or just Christmas here,” commented a community advisor.

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Silverio Silva, 84, has another cause for concern. He has a travel and tourism agency in Johannesburg for almost half a century, where he lived for 55 years, and has already sold many tickets for December, which covers the South African vacation period besides Christmas. and Christmas parties at the end of the year.

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Regarding the new variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, Silverio Silva expressed hope that the good weather in South Africa, which is now experiencing a warm season, will help stop the infection.

Regarding the new conclusion, which the South African authorities are expected to announce shortly, from December 15 to January 15, he said that it should be “lighter” and with less impact than the previous ones, as it takes place within a month. vacation. …

Ligia Fernandez, an advisor based in Cabo, the city where she lived 60 of her 75 years, told Luce that the Portuguese community was “very concerned” about the latest news on Option B.1.1.529. “The Portuguese are very withdrawn, they stay in their homes, with their family and little else. And this has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, ”he said.

One consequence of this self-restraint was the suspension of a number of activities that the Portuguese community usually participated in during this time of year, such as a year-end dinner at the Academia de Bacalhau, which was canceled due to a lack of attendees avoiding gatherings.

At the same time, there has recently been an increase in the number of flights of people from Europe to spend the summer months in their homes in South Africa.

Many Portuguese also planned to travel to Portugal, namely Madeira – home of many Portuguese expats in South Africa – on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, but now, with travel restrictions, it is not known if this airflow will be preserved and how these passengers will be returned. …

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Ligia Fernandez regrets that the vaccinated rate does not exceed 50% of the population, and fears that, given the frequency of air travel, a new option will spread.

The new variant B.1.1.529 was discovered November 11 in South Africa after an exponential rise in infections, prompting scientists to study virus samples associated with the outbreak.

On Thursday, South Africa’s National Institute for Infectious Diseases (NICD) announced the discovery of a new variant, and cases have since been identified in Belgium, Israel, Hong Kong Administrative Region of China and Botswana.

The new variant contains 30 mutations in the “key” spike protein that allows the virus to enter human cells.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which on Friday gathered experts responsible for monitoring the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, indicated that it would take “several weeks” to find out the level of risk and transmissibility of the new strain.

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Europa tem alternativas para substituir parcialmente o gás russo, defendem especialistas – Atualidade

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Em declarações à France-Presse (AFP), especialistas consideraram “improvável” a interrupção total do abastecimento de gás natural russo, mas apontaram alternativas.

“Os gasodutos vêm da Noruega, Argélia e Azerbaijão, mas esses países não têm capacidade de produção adicional”, indicou Thierry Bros, professor da Sciences Po Paris.

Assim, prosseguiu, a Europa está de olhos postos no fornecimento de gás natural liquefeito (GNL), que pode chegar por navio, proveniente de qualquer parte do mundo.

Do outro lado do Oceano Atlântico, os Estados Unidos anunciaram que estão a trabalhar em “fornecimentos alternativos, que cobrem uma maioria significativa de potenciais cortes” no fornecimento de gás russo à Europa.

Nesse sentido, o Presidente Joe Biden tem já uma reunião agendada com o Emir do Catar, o maior exportador mundial de GNL, na próxima semana.

Também a Australia disse estar pronta para enviar gás natural para a Europa.

“Em termos de volumes [de GNL], os três gigantes, atualmente, são o Catar, a Austrália e os Estados Unidos”, indicou Vincent Demoury, delegado-geral do Grupo Internacional de Importadores de Gás Natural Liquefeito (GIIGNL).

“São sobretudo aqueles três países que teriam flexibilidade para produzir mais, ou redirecionar para a Europa volumes tradicionalmente direcionados para outros mercados”, acrescentou.

No entanto, “não é possível substituir todo o gás russo por GNL”, advertiu Thierry Bros.

As capacidades de regaseificação na Europa (incluindo o Reino Unido) são de cerca de 19 mil milhões de metros cúbicos (bcm) por mês, dos quais cerca de 8 bcm, em média, já estão utilizados, sobrando cerca de 11 bcm de capacidade para uso.

Aquele valor, apontou o especialista, nãoé suficiente para compensar os cerca de 14 bcm por mês vindos da Russia.

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Este inverno, as reservas de gás na Europa estão baixas e os suprimentos da Rússia atingiram um nível historicamente baixo este mês.

Ainda assim, os especialistas duvidam que a Russia chegue ao ponto de fechar completamente a torneira.

“A suspensão total das exportações de gás continua a ser o menos provável dos cenários”, considerou o Eurasia Group.

Para o grupo de consultoria e pesquisa de risco político, “isso acarretaria sérios riscos de longo prazo para a estabilidade financeira e influência política da Rússia na Europa, já que a União Europeia, provavelmente, responderia agressivamente, diversificando o seu suprimento de energia”.

“Os russos não têm interesse em interromper as entregas”, realçou Thierry Bros.

Além do interesse financeiro, apontou, a manutenção das suas entregas “permite criar discordância na Europa”, uma vez que a Rússia poderia continuar a abastecer alguns países (Alemanha, Grécia, Hungria, por exemplo), mas outros não (Polónia, Lituânia) .

Perante uma crise que ilustra a forte dependência energética da Europa em relação ao seu vizinho russo, os 27 Estados-membros da União Europeia (UE) estão a ponderar soluções a médio prazo.

O primeiro caminho, que acaba de ser discutido numa reunião informal dos ministros da energia europeus, em Amiens, França, passa por estabelecer “regras mais rígidas sobre armazenamento de gás”, conforme indicou a ministra francesa para a Transição Ecológica, Barbara Pompili.

O modelo francês, que garante o preenchimento das reservas para o inverno, poderia, assim, ser ampliado.

Também o Luxemburgo sugeriu a assinatura de contratos de fornecimento de longo prazo com paises produtores considerados mais fiáveis ​​do que a Russia.

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A six-month-old baby was mistakenly vaccinated with six doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine.

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The case occurred in Brazil and led to the hospitalization of a child

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In the Brazilian state of São Paulo, a six-month-old baby was mistakenly inoculated with a whole vial of Pfizer’s coronavirus drug.

According to the newspaper Condition of the mines, the child has received the equivalent of six doses of the vaccine. In Brazil, the vaccination of children under the age of five is not yet allowed, so the case concerned specialists and medical workers.

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According to the family, who told Brazilian media, the baby should have been vaccinated against meningitis, tetanus and hepatitis.

The child’s mother stated that the dosing nurse contacted the health monitoring team and the child was later admitted to the Hospital das Clínicas in Ribeirão Preto.

The case occurred on 17 January and the child was observed for three days with symptoms of an abscess in the leg, fever and pain. However, the symptoms did not improve significantly and the child was discharged after being treated in the hospital.

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To the Brazilian press, the child’s mother said: “Do not hold a grudge” and praised the behavior of the medical worker for immediately reporting the incident.

The child is at home and receiving medical care.

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COVID-19: England suspends most measures. The mask has been handed over and isolation in case of infection will not be mandatory

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That freedom comes at an opportune moment for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, weakened more than ever at the head of government by the Downing Street party scandal that violated anti-COVID rules.

He celebrated the new phase on Twitter, however, warning that “the pandemic is not over”: “Everyone must remain careful and I ask everyone who has not yet received a vaccine to speak up.”

Having lifted the recommendation to work from home a week ago, England is now exempt from other restrictions – some of the lightest in Europe – introduced in December in the wake of a wave of omicron cases: the obligation to wear a mask indoors or in public places and a vaccination passport for events with large audiences.

The government also announced that nursing home residents, 86.5% of whom received a booster dose of the vaccine, will be able to receive unlimited visitors from Monday. If they test positive for coronavirus, they will have to isolate for less time.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that it will still be mandatory to wear a mask on public transport in the capital. Some supermarket chains such as Sainsbury’s, Waitrose or Morrisons are also asking their customers to follow suit.

“It seems that we are back in London as before,” said 71-year-old Elizabeth Hines in an interview with AFP in the center of the British capital. “Right now we realize how much we missed the theater and performances.” “Everything should be back to normal,” he adds.

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Lewis Kolbin, a 39-year-old bartender who once recovered from COVID-19 and is not afraid to get infected again, is approaching the new stage with optimism and caution: “It may be too soon, it may be too late, I don’t know.”

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He will continue to wear a mask in transport and shops.

More reluctant than the rest of the UK (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to impose restrictions, England lifted restrictions almost entirely on July 19 last year. But the emergence of omicrons, even more contagious than the delta, prompted the Boris Johnson government to launch its “Plan B”.

The measures are aimed at strengthening the protection of the population with a revaccination campaign and continue to try to convince those who hesitate to get vaccinated. Thus, 37 million booster doses were administered, which, according to the government, reduced the number of severe cases and hospitalizations and reduced the burden on the healthcare system.

According to the latest data, 64% of the population over 12 years old received the third dose. As cases soared over the holiday season, Boris Johnson has resisted calls for further tightening of current restrictions.

He believes the facts have proven him right: hospitals have endured, the number of patients on ventilators has not increased, and the number of cases has dropped significantly. However, the UK, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, with almost 155,000 deaths, is still reporting almost 100,000 new cases daily.

According to a study published by Imperial College London, infection rates remain high, especially among children and adolescents. Of the 3,500 participants in this large study who tested positive between January 5 and 20, two-thirds have already contracted the virus.

The prime minister hopes to be able to suspend the obligation to self-isolate in the event of a positive test in March, “just like people with the flu have no legal obligation to self-isolate.”

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