New York City requires health workers to be vaccinated or get tested weekly

A man receives a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at South Bronx Educational Campus, in New York. New York City will require public hospital workers to get vaccinated or take a weekly coronavirus test from August 2. (AFP)
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Updated 21 July 2021

New York City requires health workers to be vaccinated or get tested weekly

  • The new policy will go into effect on Aug. 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday
  • About 60% of the more than 42,000 employees of New York City's public hospital system are vaccinated

NEW YORK: As part of a nationwide response to the threat posed by the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant, New York City will require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly tests for workers at city-run hospitals and clinics.
The new policy will go into effect on Aug. 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Wednesday. The city will suspend without pay any employee who refuses to either get vaccinated or tested.
“Because of the Delta variant, increasingly the choice is between infection or vaccination, and that can mean the difference between life and death,” Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, said at the same briefing.
About 60 percent of the more than 42,000 employees of New York City’s public hospital system are vaccinated, Mitch Katz, who heads the nation’s largest public health care system, said on Wednesday. Across New York City, 70 percent of hospital staff have received both doses of the vaccine, state data shows.
The percentage of New York public hospital workers who are fully vaccinated is also lower the percentage of the city’s adult population, which stands at 65 percent, city health data shows.
The requirement marks the first time City Hall has mandated vaccinations or negative tests for public-sector workers.
In California, San Francisco took more decisive steps last month when it announced that all municipal workers in “high risk” settings such as homeless shelters and jails will have to get vaccinated by Sept. 15.
De Blasio said New York may take further measures if the threat posed by the Delta variant grows. He did not rule out extending vaccination or test requirements to all city workers in the future.
The highly contagious Delta variant that originated in India and has now become the dominant strain worldwide has been wreaking havoc among the nation’s unvaccinated population in recent weeks.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said last week that 97 percent of people entering hospitals in the United States with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
Dozens of hospitals and health systems across the United States have issued vaccination requirements for their staff.
Last month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of workers at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas over its requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19.
A large medical system in New Jersey has fired half a dozen employees because they did not get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to media reports https://abcnews.go.com/Health/jersey-hospital-network-fires-supervisors-... published on Tuesday.
Several states with low vaccination rates such as Utah, Arkansas and Louisiana are once again facing outbreaks, and some hospitals warned they are overwhelmed by the influx of COVID-19 patients.
“We have an alarming spike in the number of COVID-19 cases across the Houston area,” Patti Muck, a spokesperson for Texas’ Houston Methodist, said in an email earlier this week. “The increased hospitalizations add stress to many of our hospitals that are nearing capacity.”
Coronavirus cases have nearly tripled over the last month and hospitalizations are up nearly 40 percent, according to an analysis of Reuters data. Deaths, which can lag behind other indicators, were down 14 percent over the same period of time.


Afghanistan could become failed state: UK’s top soldier

Updated 04 August 2021

Afghanistan could become failed state: UK’s top soldier

  • Gen. Nick Carter: Govt forces need to secure military stalemate with Taliban so as to enable talks
  • There is a ‘real risk’ that the West is ‘giving far too much legitimacy to the Taliban’

LONDON: Afghanistan risks becoming a failed state unless government forces can prevent the Taliban’s advance, Britain’s most senior soldier warned on Wednesday.

Gen. Nick Carter, the chief of defense staff, said Afghan forces have to secure a military stalemate in order to start talks between the government and the Taliban. 

He also warned the international community against giving credence to the Taliban and its leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, saying there is a risk of giving the group “legitimacy” that it does not deserve.

Carter said the country becoming a failed state “is one of the scenarios that could occur, but we have to get behind the current Afghan government and support them in what they’re trying to do.

“And if they can achieve a military stalemate, then there will have to be a political compromise. Even the Taliban at the level of Baradar recognize that they can’t … conquer Afghanistan.

“There has to be a conversation. And the important thing is to achieve the military stalemate that can then bring on that conversation.”

Carter told the BBC that there is a “real risk” that the West is “giving far too much legitimacy to the Taliban movement.”

He added: “There’s a huge disparity between what Mullah Baradar is saying publicly and … what’s actually happening on the ground. 

“And the international community has got to do much more about calling out the way that the people on the ground are trashing government buildings, they’re threatening the population, there are reports of people being forced into marriages.”

Carter said he has seen “grisly videos of war crimes,” and the international community “mustn’t let them get away with this — we’ve got to call them out.”

His comments come as Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative MP and chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, called for the West to “rethink its strategy.”

Ellwood, himself a former British Army officer, tweeted on Wednesday that there is “still time to prevent civil war” by sending “a 5,000-strong coalition force — enough to give legitimacy to the Afghan government & support to Afghan forces to contain and deter the Taliban.” He added: “Otherwise we face a failed state.”


WHO calls for moratorium on Covid vaccine booster shots

Updated 04 August 2021

WHO calls for moratorium on Covid vaccine booster shots

  • WHO chief called on countries and companies controlling the supply of doses to change gear and ensure more vaccines to less wealthy states.
  • More than 4.25 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have now been administered globally

GENEVA: The WHO on Wednesday called for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September to address the drastic inequity in dose distribution between rich and poor nations.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the countries and companies controlling the supply of doses to change gear and ensure more vaccines to less wealthy states.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected,” Tedros told a press conference.
“We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries.”
More than 4.25 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have now been administered globally, according to an AFP count.
In countries categorized as high income by the World Bank, 101 doses per 100 people have been injected — with the 100 doses mark having been surpassed this week.
That figure drops to 1.7 doses per 100 people in the 29 lowest-income countries.
“Accordingly, WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September, to enable at least 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated,” said Tedros.
“To make that happen, we need everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.”
Tedros said the G20 group of nations had a vital leadership role to play because those countries are the biggest producers, consumers and donors of Covid-19 jabs.
“It’s no understatement to say that the course of the Covid-19 pandemic depends on the leadership of the G20,” he said.


Germany detains man for grenade attack on civilians in Syria

Updated 04 August 2021

Germany detains man for grenade attack on civilians in Syria

  • At least seven people were killed in the attack and three were injured

BERLIN: German police have detained a Syrian man accused of war crimes for firing a rocket-propelled grenade into a group of civilians in Damascus in 2014, officials said Wednesday.

The suspect, identified only as Mouafak Al D. in line with German privacy laws, was detained in Berlin on Wednesday.

German federal prosecutors said he is suspected of firing an RPG at a group of people lining up for food aid in the Yarmouk district of Damascus, home to a large population of Palestinian refugees.

At least seven people were killed in the attack and three were injured, including a 6-year-old child.

The suspect is alleged to have been a member of the Free Palestine Movement, and previously of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Palestine General Command. Between July 2013 and April 2015 the groups exerted control of the Yarmouk refugee camp on behalf of the Syrian government.

Prosecutors said that in addition to war crimes, the suspect faces being charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of serious bodily harm.

A federal judge is expected to determine Wednesday whether the man shall remain under arrest for the duration of the pre-trial investigation.


Taliban claim Kabul attack targeting defence minister: insurgent spokesman

Updated 04 August 2021

Taliban claim Kabul attack targeting defence minister: insurgent spokesman

KABUL: Taliban claim Kabul attack targeting defence minister: insurgent spokesman


Dubai airport expects passenger surge as UAE eases travel curbs

Updated 04 August 2021

Dubai airport expects passenger surge as UAE eases travel curbs

  • UAE has lifted a ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries from August 5
  • Dubai International Airport is targeting 8 percent growth in passenger traffic this year to 28 million

DUBAI: Dubai’s state airport operator expects a “surge” in passenger traffic over the coming weeks and months, its chief executive said on Wednesday, after the United Arab Emirates announced an easing of travel restrictions from African and Asian countries.
The Gulf state, a major international travel hub, on Tuesday said it would scrap on Aug. 5 a transit flight ban which Emirates airline later said applied to passengers traveling from 12 countries, including major market India.
The UAE will also lift this week an entry ban on those who had visited India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria or Uganda over the past 14 days for those with valid residencies and who are certified by Emirati authorities as fully vaccinated.
Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths said Dubai International was “ready to accommodate the anticipated surge in the coming weeks and months” once restrictions ease.
The Indian subcontinent is traditionally the largest source market for Dubai International, which is one of the world’s busiest airports and the hub for state airline Emirates.
Griffiths said the easing of entry restrictions on inbound travelers from South Asia as well as Nigeria and Uganda would allow for thousands of UAE residents to return.
“It’s a great development from both a social and economic standpoint,” he said.
Those traveling to the UAE or transiting through its airports need to meet various conditions including presenting a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) coronavirus test prior to departure.
Dubai International Airport is targeting 8 percent growth in passenger traffic this year to 28 million. It handled 86.4 million in 2019, the year before the pandemic struck.