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UK turns heat on Mnangagwa – NewsDay

THE United Kingdom Parliament has called on the regional bloc, in particular South Africa and Zambia, to act swiftly on Zimbabwe to arrest the deteriorating political and socio-economic crisis bedevilling the country.

Zimbabwe came up for discussion in the UK Parliament where human rights violations, the Patriotic Bill, suspended by-elections among others were on the agenda.

The UK parliamentarians said Zimbabwe should meet conditions, including holding free and fair elections to be able to return to the Commonwealth.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa wrote to the Commonwealth in May 2018 expressing Zimbabwe’s willingness to return to the 54-member grouping after nearly two decades.

The late former President Robert Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth in 2003.

Baroness Hoey asked the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon what more could be done to nudge Zambia and South Africa on Zimbabwe’s crisis.

“In this regard, we have engaged directly at the highest level with the South Africa (SA) government and we continue to engage with other regional partners as well as regional associations, including the African Union (AU) on this priority,” Ahmad said.

“Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and other organisations — including, more broadly, the AU have a key role to play and must lead on these discussions, as people want to see an inclusive, progressive Zimbabwe.

“Within Zimbabwe, we must see rights restored, Constitution respected and human rights — which includes the rights of other political parties to participate fully in the democratic process guaranteed. Those will form part of our current and future discussions with key partners.”

Lord Oates, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Zimbabwe, asked the UK government about its position on the continued detention of opposition actors including the MDC Alliance’s Makomborero Haruziviishe.

“We regularly urge the Zimbabwean government to live up to their own Constitution by ensuring that the opposition, civil society and journalists are allowed to operate without harassment and that due legal process is respected,” Ahmad responded.

“The Minister for Africa reinforced these messages when she met President Mnangagwa on November 1, 2021.”

Lord Oates argued that despite the UK government’s efforts, the political and human rights situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate.

Ahmad also said Mnangagwa never met the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a one-on-one meeting at the COP26 event in Glasgow, Scotland, contrary to State media claims.

“On the COP26 engagement, it was the Minister for Africa, my honourable friend Vicky Ford, who met with the President of Zimbabwe,” he said.

The issue of the Patriotic Bill was raised by the Lord St John of Bletso who said: “My Lords, is the minister aware that last week the Zimbabwean Cabinet signed off the Patriot Bill, which would make it a criminal offence for anyone to criticise President Mnangagwa and for any member of the opposition to speak to any foreign government in a negative way about Zimbabwe?”

“At a time when Zimbabwe is considering rejoining the Commonwealth, can the minister make it clear that our government will support this only when the rule of law is restored and freedom of speech and political freedoms are protected?”

However, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told Parliament yesterday that government was engaging the British on rejoining the Commonwealth.

“Coming to debate about the Commonwealth and the imposition of sanction, my understanding is that we are engaging the British so that we can explain to them the democratic process that we have done. We want to re-engage. I indicated that there is a desire between both parties for us to go back to the Commonwealth and there is an engagement that is going on,” Ziyambi said.

Zanu PF secretary for youth affairs Pupurai Togarepi proposed a Patriotic Act in 2018 to prosecute Zimbabweans that allegedly speak ill of the country and advocate for economic sanctions.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba could not immediately comment on the matter while Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said she was in a meeting and asked for questions in writing.

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Omicron Coronavirus LIVE: Zimbabwe returnee tested positive for Omicron in Gujarat, says Jamnagar authority – The Indian Express

A health worker conducts Covid-19 testing of commuters amid fear of spread of Omicron variant, in Bengaluru, Dec. 3, 2021. (Representative image/PTI)

Omicron Covid Variant Live Updates: The whole genome sequencing of a 71-year old NRI, who landed in Gujarat’s Jamnagar city from Zimbabwe, and tested positive for Covid-19 on December 2, has revealed that the patient is infected with the Omicron variant, according to the nodal officer of Covid-19 in the city. Two samples of the patient were sent — one to Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, which detected the presence of the Omicron variant, and another to NIV Pune. The whole genome sequencing report from NIV is awaited.

This is the third Omicron case to be detected in India. Earlier this week, two people in Karnataka — a 46-year-old doctor and a 66-year-old South African national — were found to be infected with the new variant.

Meanwhile, the Centre has said that it anticipates the severity of the Omicron variant of coronavirus to be low in the country given the fast pace of vaccination and high exposure to the Delta variant and that a decision on a Covid vaccine booster dose will be on the basis of scientific guidance from experts. This comes after the first two cases of the new variant were reported in Karnataka.

Speaking in the Parliament, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday that RT-PCR tests have been conducted on more than 16,000 passengers who arrived on 58 flights from “at-risk” countries. Till now, 18 out of these have tested positive for Covid-19. He also highlighted that a decision on booster dose and Covid jabs for children will be taken on the basis of scientific guidance from experts.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has released a set of rules to ensure proper monitoring of travellers coming in from ‘at risk’ countries and under home quarantine amid the Omicron threat.

According to the new guidelines, every day, Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) will share a list of international travellers arriving at Mumbai from ‘at risk’ and ‘high risk’ countries, and those who have visited such countries in the last 15 days. The list, however, will only include names of passengers who reside in Mumbai.

“The war room staff will call passengers under home quarantine five times a day. They will ask them about symptoms and request them to stay at home for seven days. The staff will also make physical visits to such homes to ensure that the protocols are being followed,” an official from BMC said. BMC further stated that if housing societies found that a person was not following the protocols, they can inform the ward war rooms. Read more

Ten months after the mass immunisation programme against Covid-19 began in the state, Acting Chief Secretary Debashis Chakraborty took his first dose of the vaccine on Thursday.

Chakraborty took a shot of Covaxin at the government-run JJ Hospital. Sources at the hospital said that after the matter became public, the bureaucrat held senior doctors at the hospital responsible for ‘leaking’ his personal details. Read more

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched the party’s online campaign demanding compensation for the families of those who died of Covid and accused the government of sleeping while people coped with pain and loss.

On its official Twitter handle, the Congress party said the aim of the campaign was to demand that the central government disclose the actual number of Covid deaths in the country, and “properly compensate all families of the victims with Rs 4 lakh”. “#SpeakUpForCovidNyay so the govt is forced to disclose the correct number of Covid deaths,” it said. “By making up false numbers, the Modi government is not only withholding compensation for lakhs of families, but it is simply trying to cover up its failure in managing and controlling the pandemic,” the party said.

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus was confirmed in the sample of a 71-year-old NRI who landed in Gujarat’s Jamnagar from Zimbabwe on November 28, the third such case in the country.

While the (genome sequencing) report from NIV Pune is expected on Monday, the GBRC has confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant in the sample, said Dr SS Chatterjee, nodal officer of Covid-19 for Jamnagar district. Jamnagar district collector Dr Sourabh Pardhi was informed about the presence of the variant by state-level authorities after the same was conveyed to the state health department by GBRC on Saturday.

Meanwhile, following the confirmation, an urgent meeting was held by Gujarat chief secretary Pankaj Kumar with additional chief secretary of health Manoj Aggarwal, health commissioner Jaiprakash Shivhare and other health officials. read more

The whole genome sequencing of a 71-year old man, who landed in Gujarat’s Jamnagar city from Zimbabwe, and tested positive for Covid-19 on December 2, has revealed that the patient is infected with the Omicron variant, according to a nodal officer of Covid-19 at Jamnagar, SS Chatterjee.

“The patient had come to Jamanagar on November 28. After developing symptoms of some respiratory disease, he got himself tested at a private lab in the city and the results returned positive. Therefore, he was isolated immediately in the Covid-19 hospital set up by Reliance Foundation in Dental College of Jamnagar,” Chatterjee said.

The whole genome sequencing was done by the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre. Two samples of the patient were sent — one to the GBRC and another to NIV Pune. The whole genome sequencing report from the NIV is awaited.

The man is a citizen of Zimbabwe while his wife is from Jamnagar, where they were on a visit.

ndia should prioritise double vaccinating its eligible population against Covid over booster shots given the large number of people still to get the base layer of protection against the infection, say scientists. Concerns over the Omicron variant and waning vaccine-induced protection against the infection have highlighted the need for boosters to protect the most vulnerable.

And while many countries have already started giving booster shots, several experts here said the priority in India has to be different given that large-scale immunisation programme began only six-eight months go. In advocating putting boosters on the back-burner for the moment, the experts’ opinion runs counter to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG) that has recommended a booster dose for those above 40 years in high-risk and high-exposure populations.

India recorded 8,603 new coronavirus cases and 415 deaths in the last 24 hours ending 8 am Saturday. Active cases stand at 99,974 while 8,190 people recovered on Friday. 



There is currently no evidence to suggest that symptoms associated with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 are different or more severe than those of other variants, or that current vaccines and therapeutics would be ineffective against the new variant, according to a news report citing Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH).

Channel News Asia reported that the ministry said two more people infected with Omicron variant travelled through Singapore to Malaysia and Australia.

More data and further studies on Omicron are needed, the MOH said adding that it is expecting to see more such cases being reported globally in the coming weeks.

A decision on booster dose and Covid jabs for children will be taken on the basis of scientific guidance from experts, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday even as India stepped up surveillance for Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Replying to an 11-hour-long debate on the COVID-19 pandemic in Lok Sabha, Mandaviya said RT-PCR tests have been conducted on more than 16,000 passengers who arrived on 58 flights from “at-risk” countries, of whom 18 have tested positive for COVID-19. The minister said the swab samples of these 18 passengers have been sent for genome sequencing to screen for the Omicron variant of the virus.

The Centre on Friday said it anticipates the severity of the Omicron variant of coronavirus to be low in the country given the fast pace of vaccination and high exposure to the Delta variant, a day after the first two cases of the new variant was reported in Karnataka, and that a decision on a COVID vaccine booster dose will be on the basis of scientific guidance from experts.

The Union Health Ministry, however, said the scientific evidence for the expected severity of the disease is still evolving, as debates about the booster jabs heat up and several states ramp up testing and step up surveillance for the potentially more contagious variant.

Twelve suspected patients of Omicron, who flew in the national capital from “at risk” countries”, are admitted to the Delhi government’s LNJP hospital, according to a senior hospital official. Of these, eight are confirmed coronavirus patients while four have symptoms like sore throat, fever and history of contact with patients. Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing and the results will take four or five days, the official said. “Four patients are from UK, four from France, two from Netherlands, one from Belgium and one from Tanzania. Two of the patients are foreign nationals,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital.

mid growing concerns over the new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, a parliamentary committee has recommended that the efficacy of Covid vaccines must be evaluated and concerns with regards to the new strain developing immunoescape mechanism critically addressed.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, which presented its report on Friday, also recommended that the government should conduct more research and examine the need of administering booster doses of vaccines to contain the new strain of the virus. In its report, the committee said it apprehends that a rise in mutations in the virus may lead to reporting of more virulent and transmissible strain of the Covid virus in the country and strongly recommended the Union Health Ministry to adopt a zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy and closely track Covid cases across the country.

Sikkim reported a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases on Friday as 76 more people, including 65 inmates and staffers of Namchi Central Jail, tested positive for the infection, taking the Himalayan state’s caseload to 32,343, a health bulletin said. The death toll remained unchanged at 403 as no fresh fatality was registered. Sixty inmates and five staffers of the Namchi Central Jail in South Sikkim district are among the new patients, it said.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Friday said over 10 international travellers who arrived in Bengaluru from South African countries have gone untraceable. The travellers have switched off their phones, officials said. More details here.

At Bengaluru Airport (Express photo)

The Karnataka government Friday made malls and theatres out of bounds for people who haven’t taken both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. The new measure came after the detection of two Omicron cases in Bengaluru — the first in the country.

“Entry to malls, cinema halls/theatres shall be allowed only to persons who are vaccinated with two doses of COVID 19 vaccine,” the government said in an order issued by Tushar Girinath, Principal Secretary of the Revenue Department. People working in government offices must also be vaccinated with both doses, the Karnataka government has stated.

Nine members of a family in Jaipur tested positive for Covid-19, days after four of them returned from South Africa, putting the Health Department on alert amid concerns over the “Omicron” variant of the infection.

Those who returned from South Africa have been admitted to the hospital of the Rajasthan University of Health Sciences (RUHS) and swab samples of all nine people have been sent for genome sequencing to Jaipur’s Sawai Man Singh Hospital, a health official told PTI.

As India confirmed two cases of Omicron, the World Health Organization on Friday said countries in the South-East Asia Region should further strengthen COVID-19 response measures to curtail the spread of the virus and its variants.

“Strengthening surveillance to rapidly detect importation of any new variant and transmission of existing virus and its variants, implementing calibrated public health and social measures and scaling up vaccination coverage should continue to be our focus,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of the WHO South-East Asia Region, was quoted as saying by PTI.

The Karnataka government has directed civic officials in Bengaluru to register a police complaint and investigate the validity of a negative Covid test report provided to a South African traveller who is among the first two persons in India whose Covid samples have indicated the presence of the Omicron variant of the virus.

The 66-year-old traveller from South Africa left India within seven days of testing positive by obtaining a negative Covid test report from a private lab. More details here.

Karnataka, Omicron cases in india, Omicron cases in karnataka, Covid-19, Covid test, Bengaluru news, Bengaluru, Indian express, Indian express news, Karnataka news

Karnataka, Omicron cases in india, Omicron cases in karnataka, Covid-19, Covid test, Bengaluru news, Bengaluru, Indian express, Indian express news, Karnataka news

Replying to a debate on the pandemic in the Lok Sabha, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that a decision on booster dose and jabs for children will be taken on the basis of scientific advice. He also said the Union government has taken measures to make the country ready for any future challenges and adopted the buffer stock policy to ensure that all states have enough medicines to deal with any further surge in Covid-19 cases.

Since its detection in South Africa, the new variant Omicron has spread to more than two dozen countries, including Asian nations like Sri Lanka, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

Soon after the World Health Organisation declared Omicron as a ‘Variant of Concern’, several countries imposed travel bans against South Africa. Amid the new variant’s fear, countries began stepping up testing, vaccinations and restrictions.

The United Kingdom has so far confirmed 22 cases of the Omicron variant with links to travel from southern Africa. The two persons tested with the new variant and their family members were asked to self-isolate. More details here.

Of the passengers who arrived at IGI Airport Thursday and tested positive for Covid, three came from Paris, two from London and one from Doha, with a recent travel history to South Africa.

LS debate on Covid-19: Opposition says govt mishandled second wave, seeks vaccine roadmap

Opposition parties on Thursday sought to corner the government over its handling of the second wave of the pandemic earlier this year, slow pace of vaccination and poor genome sequencing of the virus during a debate on Covid-19 in Lok Sabha.

Quite a few MPs also raised the issue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture on vaccine certificates, arguing that all states had equally contributed in fighting the pandemic and in vaccination, and asked what was the government’s plan on providing booster doses in the wake of the Omicron variant of the virus.

Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary said that less than 30% of the country’s population had been fully vaccinated and asked what the government was doing to fully vaccinate all adults in the face of the new Omicron variant of the virus.

First Omicron cases detected: 2 Karnataka samples show strain

The Union Health Ministry said Thursday that Omicron, the latest Covid variant of concern, has been detected for the first time in India in two cases from Karnataka through genomic surveillance.

The Ministry, however, stressed that there was no need to panic, called for strict adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour and urged everyone to adopt the “universal vaccine” of wearing masks to tackle the new challenge.

“Two cases of the Omicron variant have been found positive. The first is a 66-year-old male and the other is a 46-year-old male… Mostly in all the cases related to Omicron, at present, the symptoms are mild. In the cases of Omicron detected in the country, we are not seeing any severe symptoms,” Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, said.

Bubble will be safe, Omicron symptoms mild: Cricket South Africa doctor

While India’s cricket tour of South Africa is set to be delayed by a week after global panic over the new coronavirus variant Omicron, the hosts have underlined the sturdiness of the bio-safe bubbles put in place for the cricketers.

The chief medical officer of Cricket South Africa (CSA) Dr Shuaib Manjra has said that though the virus spread is “growing exponentially” in Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg region where India are slated to play their first two Tests, there are protocols in place for all eventualities.

Speaking to The Indian Express Manjra said, “South Africa is at the beginning of the fourth wave. Statistically, the cases are growing exponentially. But the evidence so far is that the cases have been mild in general. The risk of hospitalisation, in Gauteng, is growing especially in the unvaccinated population. 75 per cent of the cases suggest that.” Manjra went on to cite the ongoing tour of India A of South Africa to buttress his point saying, “there have been zero positive cases so far.”

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Omicron-Infected Man Returned To Gujarat From Zimbabwe, India's 3rd Case – NDTV



COVID-19: India has increased testing and surveillance for Omicron threat

New Delhi:

A man who returned from Zimbabwe has been found infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus in Gujarat’s Jamnagar, the state health department said. This is the third Omicron case in India.

The sample of the Jamnagar resident, a 72-year-old man, was sent for genome sequencing after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, news agency PTI reported quoting the state health department, adding Gujarat health commissioner Jai Prakash Shivhare has confirmed that the man was found infected with Omicron.

A micro-containment zone has been created where the Omicron-infected man stays and Gujarat officials are tracing and testing people there. 

“We’ve isolated him and are monitoring him. A micro containment zone has been made where he is living. In the area, we will do the tracing, testing of people,” Manoj Aggarwal, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Gujarat, told news agency ANI.

The other two cases in India are of a 46-year-old fully vaccinated doctor from Bengaluru, who had no travel history and developed symptoms of fever and body ache, and a 66-year-old South African national who came to India with a negative COVID-19 report.

The country has stepped up testing and surveillance of all incoming international passengers, especially from at-risk nations since the Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa.

The World Health Organisation has said it could take weeks to determine whether Omicron is more transmissible and whether it causes more severe infections – as well as how effective current treatments and vaccines are against it.

But the new variant has already cast the world’s recovery into doubt. More than two dozen nations including India have now detected cases of the variant.

The Health Ministry on Friday said it expects the Omicron variant to cause less severe disease, thanks to vaccinations and high prior exposure to the Delta variant that infected nearly 70 per cent of the population by July.

Nearly half of India’s 944 million adults have been fully vaccinated. As many as 84 per cent have received at least one dose, with more than 125 million people eligible now as the government pushes more to get inoculated in the face of Omicron.

“Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low. However, scientific evidence is still evolving,” the Health Ministry said.

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Adequate Wheat Supplies For Festive Season: GMAZ – New

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) says millers have managed to secure adequate wheat and maize supplies as demand is anticipated to grow during the coming Festive Season.

“The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and private silos have in stock in excess of 1 million metric tonnes of white maize, which is adequate to supply the commercial market beyond July 2022,” Tafadzwa Musarara GMAZ chairperson told the media Friday.“

“As a result of a bumper harvest, current prices of maize meal in US dollars are deflating and the competition among millers is cut-throat. Consumers are benefitting from the wide choices of brands on the shelves. Had the country, not embarked on this noble and successful local wheat farming, we would be gravely susceptible to changing global wheat prices,” he said.

“At the moment, global wheat prices are on the surge due to reduction of global wheat export supply by 16,5 million tonnes. Imported wheat landed in Zimbabwe is above US$530. This has substantial potency to increase both bread and flour pieces per loaf of bread significantly. Without wheat production, bread would be selling upwards of US$1,25 per loaf.”

Musarara added: “We are delighted and encouraged with the 2021 winter wheat harvest that has now exceeded 220,000 metric tonne deliveries to the GMB.

“Deliveries are still continuing; this year’s wheat production will be the biggest wheat import substitution programme since the commencement of wheat production in this country.

“Bread flour supply is above adequate and our colleagues in the bakery industry are doing commendable work as the market is well supplied.”

However, the GMAZ boss appealled to the government to scrap the value-added tax (VAT) on backdated rice imports.

“This country remains a net importer of rice, however, due to generational dietary changes, the youth dividend is now moving towards rice rather than traditional maize meal.

“This change in consumer consumption has seen the national rice consumption increase from 18,000 metric tonnes per year in 2005 to 150,000 metric tonnes in 2020,” he said.

“The introduction of rice cookers on the local market has contributed tremendously to the increase in rice demand. However, we are appealling for the scrapping of VAT backdated rice imports,” Musarara said.

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