Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
There will be no return to the “old normal” for the foreseeable future as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and too many countries were still headed in the wrong direction, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned.
“The virus remains public enemy number one, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this,” Xinhua news agency quoted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at as saying a regular briefing on Monday.
He noted that mixed messages from leaders are undermining trust, which is the most critical ingredient of any response, while the only aim of the virus is to find people to infect.
Things are going to “get worse and worse and worse”, he warned, unless governments communicate clearly with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives, while populations follow the basic public health principles of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, coughing etiquette and staying home when sick.
COVID-19 has been gaining its momentum lately.
According to Tedros, Sunday saw a record of 230,000 cases reported to WHO, of which almost 80 percent were from just 10 countries and about half from just two countries.
“But it does not have to be this way,” he said, asking every single leader, government and individual “to do their bit to break the chains of COVID-19 transmission and end the collective suffering”.
To control the disease and get on with people’s lives, Tedros said, three things are required. The first is to focus on reducing mortality and suppressing transmission; the second is to focus on an empowered, engaged community that takes individual behaviour measures in the interest of each other.
And the third is a strong government leadership and coordination of comprehensive strategies that are communicated clearly and consistently.
“We weren’t prepared collectively, but we must use all the tools we have to bring this pandemic under control. And we need to do it right now,” he added.
At the WHO briefing on Monday, health experts also said there was evidence to suggest that children under the age of 10 were only very mildly affected by Covid-19, while those over 10 seemed to suffer similar mild symptoms to young adults.
To what extent children can transmit the virus, while it appears to be low, remains unknown.
On Tuesday, the number of global coronavirus cases cross the 13 million mark, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
The total number of cases currently stood at 13,070,097, while the fatalities rose to 572,411, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.
The US accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 3,363,056 and 135,605, respectively, according to the CSSE.
Brazil came in the second place with 1,884,967 infections and 72,833 deaths.
India, China to hold 9th round of talks to resolve border dispute
India and China Flags.
Indian and Chinese militaries will hold a ninth round of talks aimed at resolving the border disputes in Eastern Ladakh after a deadlock prevailed since the last negotiations in November 2020, sources said.
The latest “Corps Commander level meet is likely to take place in the next few days, probably in a day or two”, the sources, adding contours of the dialogue were being worked out and some changes are expected.
A Ministry of External Affairs representative is likely to be part of the dialogue.
The eight round had taken place on November 6, 2020.
Though the talks ended in a deadlock, both countries agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and also to take forward the discussions, push for the settlement of other outstanding issues, so as to jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
Earlier this month, Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane had said that the force is ready for a long haul along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), while hoping for an amicable solution in its nine-month-long conflict with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
“We are prepared to hold our ground where we are for as long as it takes to achieve our national goals and interest,” he had said.
On August 30, 2020, India had occupied critical mountain heights on the southern bank of the Pangong Lake like Rechin La, Rezang La, Mukpari, and Tabletop that were unmanned till now.
India has also made some deployments near Blacktop also after the Chinese tried to make a provocative military move.
Now, dominance at these 13 peaks allow India to dominate Spangur Gap under the Chinese control and also the Moldo garrison on the Chinese side.
India releases Chinese soldier apprehended for crossing disputed border
Indian authorities on Monday released a soldier of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who was apprehended for crossing the disputed border in Eastern Ladakh.
“The PLA soldier who had been apprehended on January 8, was handed back to China at Chushul – Moldo at 10.10 a.m. today,” said a senior Indian Army officer.
The solider was interrogated for spying on deployment of Indian forces at the disputed border region in Ladakh.
He had crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at friction point between both the countries at South of Pangong Lake.
The Indian Army had stated that the PLA soldier had transgressed across the LAC and was taken into custody by Indian troops deployed in the area.
Troops from either side are deployed along the LAC since friction erupted last year due to unprecedented mobilisation and forward concentration by Chinese troops.
It was on August 28, 2020 and August 29, 2020, Indian troops in a precautionary deployment, pre-empted Chinese expansionist designs and occupied heights along the southern bank of Pangong Tso.
Two weeks ago, the Defence Ministry in its year end review had stated that PLA escalated the situation at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh by the utilisation of “unorthodox weapons and amassing large number of troops”.
The Ministry that Chinese made unilateral and provocative actions to change the status quo by force, in more than one area on the LAC.
Thereafter India responded to in a firm and non-escalatory way, ensuring the sanctity of claims in Eastern Ladakh.
India has categorically conveyed China that any attempt to unilaterally alter the status quo at the border is unacceptable and that India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
India and China are engaged in a nine-month-long standoff at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues.
Pakistani Foreign Minister embarks on 2-day visit to UAE
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday embarked on a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for talks on bilateral matters, according to an official statement issued here.
The Foreign Ministry statement said Qureshi will hold discussions with the UAE leadership on all areas of mutual interest including regional and global issues, reports Xinhua news agency.
“The Foreign Minister will exchange views on bilateral cooperation, in particular, trade, investment and the welfare of Pakistani diaspora,” it said.
The UAE is home to the second-largest Pakistani community abroad.
The visit is part of the high-level exchanges between Pakistan and UAE, according to the statement.
“High-level visits are an important feature, which not only exhibit cordial ties between the two countries but also accord the leadership an opportunity to give further impetus to strengthening bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues,” it added.
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