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Thai-owned Dusit D2 Hotel under fire in Nairobi

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Thai-owned Dusit D2 Hotel under fire in Nairobi | The Thaiger
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Two explosions and gunfire have been heard amid an apparent attack at an upscale hotel and office complex in Kenyan capital Nairobi. News just in from independent.co.uk

“We are under attack,” another person in an office inside a complex in the DusitD2 hotel told Reuters, then hung up. Local television showed smoke rising from the area.

“I just started hearing gunshots, and then started seeing people running away raising their hands up and some were entering the bank to hide for their lives,” a woman working in a neighbouring building told the news agency. She also heard two explosions, she said.

Nairobi police commander Philip Ndolo said officers had cordoned off the area around Riverside Drive due to a suspected robbery.

However, police spokesman Charles Owino told local media officials were not ruling out an attack by militants.

Read the rest of the Reuters report HERE.

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble delayed due to Covid rise in Hong Kong

Maya Taylor

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Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble delayed due to Covid rise in Hong Kong | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash

Singapore and Hong Kong have agreed to delay their travel bubble plans as Hong Kong experiences a jump in Covid-19 cases. Although case numbers in both cities are nowhere near as serious as what’s currently being seen in places like Europe and the US, officials are erring on the side of caution and postponing the plan by at least 2 weeks.

The travel pact would have allowed people to travel between both cities without having to endure mandatory quarantine, but authorities on both sides had agreed it would be postponed if either location reported more than 5 new local cases in a rolling 7-day average. The Bangkok Post reports that travel between both cities remains possible, but quarantine is still a requirement in both places.

Mungo Paterson, a British national who lives in Hong Kong and had booked a ticket to Singapore for December 7, says the reinstatement of the quarantine requirement is the biggest problem.

“That is the main deterrent, I have no interest in sitting in a hotel room for 2 weeks – it’s not healthy. I was excited when they announced it, I thought ‘here we go’. I’m now holding off confirming until Dec 2. I think there’s a 50-50 chance the flight will happen.”

Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung says the rise in cases in Hong Kong shows that any attempted travel arrangement will not be plain sailing.

“This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs.”

The strict border controls seen in Asia appear to have helped countries here suppress the virus better than elsewhere in the world, but the controls have come at a significant cost, crippling tourism and the aviation sector. Rico Merkert from the University of Sydney’s business school says that, without international traffic, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will continue to struggle, even when the travel bubble between their 2 hubs does begin.

“Even if the Hong Kong-Singapore corridor opens, the boost to the 2 aviation hubs will be limited. Singapore Airlines and Cathay will continue to struggle because they can’t funnel onto the route those travellers who would normally arrive from Europe and the US. Without that feeder traffic, those bubbles will at best be limited to the local population. International travel is going to remain a tricky affair.”

October traffic for both carriers has plummeted compared to the same period last year, with Cathay carrying just 38,541 passengers, down 98.6% on 2019 figures. Singapore Airlines has experienced a similar slump, with October numbers down 98.2% on last year’s, at 35,500.

Brendan Sobie from Sobie Aviation says at this stage, the implementation of a travel bubble is mostly symbolic, adding that the aviation sector will take years to fully recover.

“Bubbles provide a little bit of incremental additional international traffic in the interim period until the pandemic ends. A full recovery in air traffic will still take a few years, even with a vaccine, though bubbles will help get the process moving.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

China imposes community lockdowns in 3 cities with small Covid outbreaks | VIDEO

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China imposes community lockdowns in 3 cities with small Covid outbreaks | VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Mass testing in the Chinese city of Tianjin

Millions of people are now being tested in China, with new lockdowns and some districts shutting down schools. On Sunday there were 11 new cases, yesterday another 22 across the country. After a relatively low number of local transmissions for several months now, locally transmitted Covid-19 cases are popping up in 3 cities across the country – Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli.

Even though the number of new cases remains minuscule compared to the US, parts of Europe and the UK, Chinese health officials are warning that the chance of the virus spreading is now greater in the cooler weather. Despite the virus being largely contained in China, the authorities are taking no chances and are taking direct local actions to control any further spread. Chinese officials say that the swift local lockdowns has allowed communities, cities and industry to re-open quicker – around China manufacturing and industry is reported to be back to around 93% of pre-covid activity.

The National Health Commission reported 2 new locally transmitted cases in Shanghai over the past day – a total of 7 since Friday. China has recorded 86,442 cases overall and 4,634 deaths since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019.

• The 2 latest cases confirmed in Shanghai were close contacts of another airport worker who was diagnosed with Covid-19 earlier this month. Now the city’s Pudong International airport is testing all of its workers, collecting 17,719 samples for testing. Airport workers were given last-minute orders to get tested and there were some chaotic videos (below) posted on social media with workers arguing with officials in hazmat suits.

• In Tianjin, an industrial seaport just south east of Beijing, health workers have collected more than 2.2 million samples for testing from residents, after 5 locally transmitted cases were discovered there last week. Tianjin officials shut down a pre-school and moved all the teachers, families and students to a quarantine space.

• In Manzhouli, a city of more than 200,000 people, local health authorities are testing all residents after 2 cases were reported on Saturday.

China has been able to control any minor outbreaks with its top-down community lockdowns which restrict people to their homes across entire neighbourhoods, shutting down shopping precincts, schools and hospitals.

Earlier this year, in February, Chinese officials locked down the city of Wuhan, where cases were first reported, for more than 2 months to contain the virus, with the local government shutting down all traffic and confining residents to their homes.

Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says that the policy of ‘Clearing to Zero’ is swift and effective.

“Clearing to zero is actually the most economically effective way to do epidemic prevention. If you don’t do that, then this problem will get more troublesome. Use a heavier hand, and get to zero, then people will feel reassured.”

SOURCE: Associate Press | Reuters

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

US may receive first Covid vaccine doses by mid-December

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US may receive first Covid vaccine doses by mid-December | The Thaiger

The head of the US government’s covid vaccine effort is saying that the first vaccine doses may be shipped by mid-December. Moncef Slaoui, the head of a federal vaccine development program, made the comments just 2 days after Pfizer and BioNTech applied for emergency vaccine use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, after their versions of the vaccines indicated results showing that it was 95% effective. Moderna, another company has also said its vaccine is 94.5% effective. Slaoui also is in charge of a federal program that increases manufacturing of such promising vaccines as they are developed.

“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval. So I expect maybe on day two after approval on December 11 or 12.”

The news of a vaccine becoming available comes on the heels of US states seeing a surge in Covid cases, partly due to the winter weather, as colder temperatures are seeing more and more people fall ill. In the state of Texas, the National Guard deployed 36 people to El Paso to help with its overflowing morgue operations. The US retains its place at the top in regards to having the highest number of Covid cases in the world.

But travellers are still filling the airports over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as they shun the warnings from health officials to stay home and isolate. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, says the number of travellers was concerning, stating that they were “going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”

Fauci says that maybe 20 million people could possible receive the new vaccine by the end of the year.

“More people may die if we don’t coordinate.”

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