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Saudi Arabia holds limited Hajj due to Covid-19

Anukul

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Saudi Arabia holds limited Hajj due to Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: PBS

Saudi Arabia is holding a very limited Hajj this year, due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. Pilgrims who are already in the Kingdom will be permitted to conduct the annual Muslim rite, which usually draws millions to religious sites.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a must for Muslims at least once in their lives. The pilgrimage is reportedly open to different nationalities in Saudi Arabia but the specified number has not been announced.

Saudi Arabia is struggling to control the spread of coronavirus, which has now reached 161,000 cases and more than 1,300 deaths.

“Saudi Arabia has chosen the safest option that allows it to save face within the Muslim world while making sure they are not seen as compromising on public health,” said Umar Karim, a visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, to the AFP.

But the policy may upset the many Muslims outside of the country whose faith seems to override health concerns. It could also renew investigations over Saudi custody of the holiest sites of Islam – the most important source of political legitimacy in the Kingdom.

The Hajj is a major source of revenue for the country which brings in an estimated 12 billion USD a year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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My name is Anukul, I a writer for the Thaiger, I specialise in translation articles and social media, and assisting with our video production. I previously worked at Phuket Gazette and attended BIS international school in Phuket.

World

Muay Thai added to European Games 2023

Caitlin Ashworth

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Muay Thai added to European Games 2023 | The Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikimedia

Thailand’s national sport Muay Thai has been added to the European Games 2023, set to be held in Poland. While Asia has been leading the sport for decades, many recent Muay Thai champions are from Europe, according to Sakchye Tapsuwan, president of the International Federation of Muaythai Associations, the governing body for the sport.

“Europe has grown in strength, evidenced at the last two World Championships, where the overall winners were teams from Europe.”

Held by the European Olympic Commission, the European Games is considered a staging post to the Olympics. Thousands of elite athletes from 50 participating nations have the opportunity to compete in one of the 15 sports. Now Muay Thai, an ancient martial art dating back 1,000 years with ties to centuries-old traditions, is included on the list.

The format of the European Games is in line with the Olympic Movement standards for gender equality. The categories are equal for men and women with 7 male and female divisions and 2 coed teams. Creating equal opportunities for men and women fighters is a “vision” both the federation and the European Olympic Committee share, according to director of the federation, Charissa Tynan.

“For IFMA, gender equality is not about ticking the box, it is about ensuring that women and men have the same opportunities to shine together on one stage as one family.”

SOURCES: IFMA | EOC

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Japan asks China to stop anal Covid-19 tests after travellers report “psychological distress”

Caitlin Ashworth

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Japan asks China to stop anal Covid-19 tests after travellers report “psychological distress” | The Thaiger

After complaints that China’s anal swab Covid-19 test caused “psychological distress,” Japan has asked China to stop using the new, much more invasive method of testing on Japanese citizens entering the country.

For the anal test, reportedly done on some travellers entering China from overseas, a 3 to 5 centimetre long cotton swab is inserted into the anus and gently rotated to collect the sample. While it’s unclear exactly how many people have gone through the procedure, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato says some Japanese citizens have reported mental discomfort after the test.

“Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused great psychological pain.”

The Japanese government made a request through the embassy in Beijing to stop using the anal swab test on Japanese citizens. Katsunobu says China has not yet responded to the request.

China started using the anal swab test in January. The anal tests are controversial with many experts backing the oral test as the most efficient way to detect a coronavirus infection.

SOURCE: BBC

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Survey shows growing acceptance of Covid-19 vaccines in some countries

Maya Taylor

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Survey shows growing acceptance of Covid-19 vaccines in some countries | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pixabay

A survey of 6 countries shows that the number of people willing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 is on the rise. The poll, conducted by the international consultancy KekstCNC, indicates that the number of people willing to be vaccinated has risen since last year. The countries that took part were the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Sweden, with all reporting a similar trend.

The highest percentage in favour of vaccination was in the UK, where mass vaccination is well underway. 89% of those surveyed say they’re in favour of being vaccinated, an increase on December’s figure of 70%.

Sweden’s percentage of those in favour of vaccination rose to 76%, from 53% in December. In the US, it was 64%, up from December’s 58%, in Germany, 73% favour vaccination, up from 63%, and in Japan, the percentage is 64%, up from 50% in December.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the numbers were lowest in vaccine-sceptical France, with 59% in favour of the vaccine. However, this is a significant rise from December’s 40%.

In some countries, people were critical of the vaccine rollout, but 76% of people in the UK feel the government has done well. In the US, only 32% are happy with the vaccine rollout, in Germany and Japan it’s 28%, 22% in France and just 20% in Sweden. Both the UK and Israel are seen as having the most success with the rollout of their vaccine programmes.

Covid-19 has now killed 2,543,285 people and infected 114,686,933 around the world since the start of the pandemic in December 2019. The US has recorded the highest number of deaths, at 525,776.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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