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Phuket Gazette World News: Queen Beatrix to abdicate Dutch throne

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Phuket Gazette World News: Queen Beatrix to abdicate Dutch throne | Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Dutch Queen Beatrix to abdicate throne after 33 years
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: Dutch Queen Beatrix announced that she will abdicate on Queen’s Day in April after more than three decades as head of state, allowing her eldest son Willem-Alexander to become the kingdom’s first king in more than a century.

The announcement, recorded yesterday afternoon and later broadcast on both radio and television, followed years of speculation that Beatrix planned to abdicate the throne and allow her eldest son to take over. She confirmed in the speech that she had been considering to abdicate for a number of years.

“I have always considered it as an exceptional privilege to use a large part of my life to serve our country,” she said. “To this day, this beautiful task has given me great satisfaction. It is inspiring to feel involved with people, to show compassion and to share in times of joy and national pride.”

Beatrix, noting that this year marks the 200th anniversary of the collapse of the French Empire which rang in a new era for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said she chose to abdicate this year to allow a new generation to take over. “(I am abdicating) from the conviction that the responsibility for our country must now be in the hands of a new generation,” she said.

The abdication is scheduled to take place at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam on April 30, which traditionally marks the annual Queen’s Day celebration. It will be followed by the inauguration of Willem-Alexander at the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) near the royal palace in Amsterdam a short time later.

Willem-Alexander, 45, will be the kingdom’s first king since William III, who ruled the Netherlands from 1849 until 1890. His wife Maxima will become queen consort, unlike the husbands of Beatrix and Queen Juliana who never became king but instead held the title of prince-consort.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte praised Beatrix, who turns 75 this week, for her work as queen. “Queen Beatrix was always there,” he said. “She was there on festive occasions, during the celebration of successes in sports and cultural highlights. But she was also and especially there during difficult moments.”

The Netherlands suffered a number of disasters since Beatrix assumed the throne in April 1980. A total of 43 people were killed in October 1992 when a large cargo plane crashed into an apartment building in Amsterdam and 23 people were killed and nearly 950 others were injured in May 2000 when a massive fireworks explosion devastated a neighborhood in the city of Enschede.

But tragedy struck close in Apeldoorn on Queen’s Day 2009 when a man drove his car into a parade which included Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander and other members of the royal family. The attacker killed seven people and injured several others but missed a bus carrying the royal family.

“Her moving words immediately after the horrific attack in Apeldoorn will be forever etched in our collective memory,” Rutte said.

But the last year of her reign will be remembered as being marked by personal tragedy. Prince Johan Friso, the second son of Beatrix, has remained in a coma after being critically injured in an avalanche in western Austria in February 2012. Doctors said oxygen deprivation caused extensive damage to his brain, leaving him in a coma from which he may never come out.

Queen Beatrix, who will take the title of princess, said Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima are “fully prepared” for their future task. “They will serve our country with dedication, faithfully maintain the constitution and with all their talents give their own substance to the kingship.”

The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of the Netherlands in Western Europe and the countries Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten in the Caribbean.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Transport

Travelling from the UK? Here’s some details on restrictions….

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Travelling from the UK? Here’s some details on restrictions…. | Thaiger
Stock photo of London Heathrow Airport via Flickr

As the summer holiday is just around the corner, many in the UK are wondering if and how they will travel abroad during the Covid pandemic. Despite it being against the law to travel abroad for holiday and leisure in the UK, those who need to travel may want to know what requirements certain countries have in order to enter.

Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Indonesia, are some of the popular places that travellers need to visit, and here we have the latest updates on requirements from those nations.

Australia

After locking down borders early, Australia has spent most of last year living a more normal life than those in the UK have, seeing significantly fewer Covid infections and deaths. But part of why they have been more successful is due to the tough travel measures that are still in place. The country currently is closed to outsiders, except for Australian citizens, permanent residents, or those with an exemption.

If travellers do fall into those categories, they must undergo a 14 day mandatory quarantine on arrival at a designated facility, like a hotel. And, even if you are inside Australia wanting to depart, the strict guidelines apply to those leaving the country as well. Only those with an exemption are able to leave Australia and there has been no indication as to when the country will relax the rules for coming and going. Experts do say that the country may not return to pre-pandemic levels of free travelling until 2024.

New Zealand

New Zealand is another country that has succeeded in tackling the pandemic early on, as most residents are living quite normally. Again, the strict guidelines that were in place are still ongoing as the country is closed to almost all arrivals. Those who are allowed in, must present evidence of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departing their country of residence.

But, good news is coming later this month as NZ will enter a travel bubble with Australia, allowing its people to travel between the 2 nations without needing to undergo a quarantine.

Thailand

Thailand was also considered to be succesful in combatting the Covid virus, until a 2nd and 3rd wave rocked the country, with experts saying it could be the worst yet to come. As the nation is planning to reopen fully in October, with an even earlier opening in July for its tourist-laden island of Phuket, arrivals still must undergo quarantines of up to 10 days. The quarantine time period depends on where you are entering in the country, as well as whether or not you have been fully inoculated against the Covid virus.

Other restrictions include where you are coming from prior to entering the country, as certain nations with Covid variants may still be required to undergo the full length of the original 14 day quarantine, or could be denied entry altogether.

Indonesia

Since the beginning of this year, all non-Indonesian travellers are currently banned from entering the country, with only a few exemptions in place. Any travellers allowed to enter must provide evidence of a negative Covid test and follow mandatory quarantine arrangements once landing.

The country is currently administering China’s Sinovac vaccine, which has faced criticism over its low effectiveness rates. But, Indonesia has lost 75% of its tourism in 2020, a figure that its government is surely to tackle in the near future.

SOURCE: MyLondon.news

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

US pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after “rare and severe” blood clots

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US pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after “rare and severe” blood clots | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

Health officials in the United States have decided to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine while they investigate a number of cases of “rare and severe” blood clots. According to a CNN report, a 45 year old woman has died and another patient is in critical condition. In total, there were 6 blood clot incidents, out of more than 6.8 million vaccine doses administered. All of the cases involved female patients between the ages of 18 and 48, with symptoms developing between 6 to 13 days after inoculation.

Speaking to CNN, Dr Carlos del Rio from Emory University School of Medicine says that such side-effects are extremely rare, pointing out that they’re more likely to be observed outside clinical trials, due to the larger number of people involved.

“It’s a very rare event. You’re talking about 1 per million, and when you give millions of doses of vaccines, you will see events like this that you couldn’t see in the clinical trial just because you didn’t have millions of people enrolled.”

He adds that blood clotting may be occurring for the same reason seen with the AstraZeneca vaccine, given that both jabs are adenovirus vector vaccines. The other vaccines in use in the US – Pfizer and Moderna – are mRNA vaccines.

Peter Marks from the US Food and Drug Administration agrees that there appear to be similarities between the incidents of blood clots reported with both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.

“The AstraZeneca is a chimpanzee adenoviral vector vaccine. The Janssen is a human adenoviral vector vaccine. We can’t make some broad statement yet, but obviously they are from the same general class of viral vectors. We don’t have a definitive cause, but the probable cause that we believe may be involved here – that we can speculate – is a similar mechanism that may be going on with the other adenoviral vector vaccine. That is that this is an immune response that occurs very, very rarely after some people receive the vaccine and that immune response leads to activation of the platelets and these extremely rare blood clots.”

Janssen is the vaccine arm of Johnson & Johnson. Yesterday, the manufacturer issued a statement confirming a decision to delay the European rollout of its Covid-19 vaccine. The statement goes on to say that anyone who has already received the jab and experiences a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within 3 weeks of being inoculated should see a doctor. However, it adds that such side effects are extremely rare.

Last month, the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine became the third jab to be approved for emergency use in Thailand.

SOURCE: CNN

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

WHO says pandemic reaching critical levels in South Asia

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WHO says pandemic reaching critical levels in South Asia | Thaiger
Stock photo via World Bank Blogs

Despite vaccines being rolled out, the WHO is warning that the Covid-19 pandemic has reached a “critical level” in South Asia as infections keep rising. The virus has already taken 2.9 million lives, infecting 136 million worldwide and the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, says the “trajectory of this pandemic is growing…exponentially.”

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic when we have proven control measures. We are at a critical point of the pandemic right now.”

The US is still the country with the most amount of infections, but India has recently taken the number 2 spot over Brazil, reporting 168,000 new cases in 1 day. India’s total amount of infections is now at 13.5 million, edging Brazil’s 13.48 million into the number 3 spot.

But a race among nations for Covid infections is not what the WHO – or anyone for that matter – is wanting. 28 year old Rohit, a waiter in Mumbai, seems to say that the race won’t end if people continue to not listen to safety protocols.

“The solution is for everyone to stay home for two months and end this (pandemic) once and for all. But the public doesn’t listen. Nobody follows the rules in the restaurant… If we tell customers to wear masks, they are rude and disrespectful to us.”

Ignoring the social – distancing rules has experts up in arms as they warn that huge, mass gatherings are what we all thought they were: a super spreader event for Covid-19.

But the Indian government appears desperate to avoid a repeat of last year’s nationwide March shutdown which saw some of the world’s toughest measures causing misery all around. Thus, the balance between managing a country’s overall health and financial situation is a tedious one.

Bangladesh has chosen health, for now, as it is shuttering both international and domestic airports from tomorrow. Its population of 160 million people, will be sealed off from the rest of the world.

And, in Thailand, a 3rd wave has hit, making plans for a full reopening by October, seem to be in vain. Social distancing and mass gatherings are, again, to blame, as entertainment venues sparked the recent spread. As normally tourism-heavy destinations, like the Andaman island of Phuket, are rapidly inoculating its residents to prepare for a July reopening, the new wave has dampened hopes of reviving the economy.

For now, the efforts to contain the Covid pandemic have been futile worldwide, but history has a habit of repeating itself, especially when safety protocols fall on deaf ears.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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