The W.H.O. Skips Forward Two Greek Letters, Avoiding a Xi Variant

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When the World Health Organization began to name the emerging variants of the coronavirus, officials turned to the Greek alphabet to make it easier for the public to understand the evolution: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and so on. Now the alphabet has created its own political headache. When it came time to name the potentially dangerous new variant that has emerged in southern Africa, the next letter in alphabetical order was Nu, which officials thought would be too easily confused with “new.” The letter after that was even more complicated:…

WTA still ‘deeply concerned’ over Peng Shuai’s ability to communicate freely

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said it remains “deeply concerned” about the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, weeks after she disappeared following her allegations against a high-ranking Chinese former politician. The WTA said in an email statement on Saturday that its chief executive, Steve Simon, had attempted to contact Peng through “various communication channels” including two emails. It said it was concerned about her welfare and ability to communicate freely and that her responses were “clearly” influenced by others. A spokesperson said Simon “remains deeply concerned that Peng is…

World scrambles to contain Omicron coronavirus variant

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Dutch officials said 61 people on two flights from South Africa to Amsterdam tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, but it was not clear if they were infected with the new variant. Advertisement China did not announce any new travel restrictions in response to the variant but the country has one of the strictest restrictions on border entry and flights. It has also introduced a flight suspension mechanism if there are more than five positive cases on board. Sanjaya Senanayake, associate professor of medicine at the Australian National University, said…

Solomon Islands Protests: 3 Burned Bodies Found in Chinatown

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MELBOURNE, Australia — After days of riots in the Solomon Islands during which protesters called for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to resign, set buildings ablaze and looted stores, the authorities on Saturday said they had found the bodies of three people in a burned-out building. They are the first reported deaths following days of violent protests in Honiara, the nation’s capital. The three bodies, which were burned, had been found in the remains of one store in the Chinatown district, a police spokesman said. The police were investigating the deaths,…

Covid live: WHO names new variant ‘Omicron’; US and Canada bring in travel curbs

A selection of countries in north Africa and the Middle East have joined those imposing restrictions on arrivals from southern Africa. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Morocco have introduced varying bans on travellers from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini according to AFP. Iran said it will ban foreign travellers from six countries, including South Africa. Iranians will be admitted after testing negative twice for Covid, state broadcaster IRIB reported. On Friday it reported 86 deaths. Novavax, the US company that is among those to…

Thomas Bach Is Criticized for His Handling of the Peng Shuai Case

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“What the I.O.C. established is that quiet and discreet diplomacy gets you better than clashing cymbals,” Pound said. “That’s not the way you deal with any country, certainly not with China.” It is unclear how Bach managed to engineer a call with Peng when the WTA Tour and others had been unsuccessful, though the presence on the call of an I.O.C. member from China, Li Lingwei, offered a tantalizing clue. “The I.O.C. has vaulted itself from silence about Beijing’s abysmal human rights record to active collaboration with Chinese authorities in…

Peng Shuai: the tennis star at centre of China’s biggest #MeToo allegation

After Peng Shuai and Andrea Sestini Hlaváčková won the doubles final at the 2014 Beijing Open, they went to karaoke to celebrate. The fifth-seeded duo had just beaten India’s Sania Mirza and Zimbabwe’s Cara Black, who had never lost a match in the Asia-Pacific region. “She was at the beginning of her comeback and I was happy to be there to play with her,” Hlaváčková recalls, on the phone from Rome. Their victory called for a night out so they went to a big Beijing nightclub. “She was singing a…

Shanghai cancels hundreds of flights, shuts schools over three Covid cases

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled while some schools were shuttered and tour groups suspended on Friday after three Covid cases were reported in Shanghai, as China continues its strict zero-Covid policy. Beijing has largely succeeded in controlling the spread of the coronavirus within its borders through travel restrictions and snap lockdowns, but frequent domestic flare-ups have tested its no-tolerance strategy in recent months. The three positive cases are friends who travelled to the nearby city of Suzhou together last week, Shanghai health authorities said at a press conference Thursday…

Hong Kong Records Two Cases of Variant Detected in South Africa

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The Hong Kong government said on Thursday that it had detected two cases of a new variant identified in South Africa, which scientists have warned shows a “big jump in evolution” and could limit the effectiveness of vaccines. The infections were detected in a man who had returned to Hong Kong from South Africa this month, and later in another man staying across the hall in the same quarantine hotel. (Hong Kong requires almost all overseas arrivals to quarantine in hotels for two to three weeks.) The virus’s genetic sequence…

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