India's Covid crisis hits Covax vaccine-sharing scheme
The international scheme to ensure equal access to Covid-19 vaccines is 140 million doses short because of India's continuing Covid crisis.
The Serum Institute of India (SII), the largest single supplier to the Covax scheme, has made none of its planned shipments since exports were suspended in March.
The UN children's agency Unicef buys and distributes vaccines for Covax.
It is urging leaders of G7 nations and EU states to share their doses.
They are due to meet in the UK next month.
The SII was due to supply around half of the two billion vaccines for Covax this year but there were no shipments for March, April or May. The shortfall is expected to rise to 190 million doses by the end of June.
"Unfortunately, we're in a situation where we just don't know when the next set of doses will materialise," said Gian Ghandi, Unicef's Covax co-ordinator for supply.
Cyclone Tauktae: Indian states put on alert ahead of storm
At least four people have died in torrential rain and winds as coronavirus-hit India braces for a powerful cyclone, officials said on Sunday, with tens of thousands set to be evacuated from their homes.
Cyclone Tauktae – India’s first major tropical storm this season – is moving northwards in parallel with the country’s western coast, bringing heavy rains, thunderstorms and strong winds to several states, the meteorological department said.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued an “orange alert” for the western state of Maharashtra which is likely to face heavy rainfall.
It is expected to make land in coastal Gujarat as early as Monday night, bringing wind speeds of approximately 150-160km/h (93-99 mph), the weather bureau added.
Four people died on Saturday as torrential rain and winds battered Karnataka state, the disaster management authority said on Sunday.
India: More corpses found washed up on Ganges River banks
Indian police on Sunday were reaching out to villagers in the north of the country after hundreds of corpses were found in shallow sand graves or washed up on the banks of the the Ganges River.
Recent reports of large numbers of people falling ill in villages, and then putting dead bodies in the river, comes as COVID-19 has seemingly spread to India's rural hinterland, where 70% of its 1.3 billion people live.
Police used loudspeakers as they roamed in jeeps and boats, asking people not to dispose of corpses in the water. "We are here to help you perform the last rites,'' police said.
On Friday, heavy rains exposed the cloth coverings of bodies buried in shallow graves on a riverbank in Prayagraj, a city in Uttar Pradesh state. While officials say the riverside burials have taken place for decades, the high numbers in the shadow of the pandemic are focusing more attention on the practice. Navneet Sehgal, a state government spokesman, refuted suggestions that the discovery of more than 1,000 corpses in the area over the last two weeks had anything to do with India's deadly second wave of the coronavirus. "I bet these bodies have nothing to do with COVID-19," he said.
The Guardian (4gtp)
UK ‘faces labour shortage’ as Covid and Brexit fuel exodus of overseas workers
Britain’s employers are struggling to hire staff as lockdown lifts amid an exodus of overseas workers caused by the Covid pandemic and Brexit, industry figures reveal.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the recruitment firm Adecco, employers plan to hire at the fastest rate in eight years, led by the reopening of the hospitality and retail sectors as pandemic restrictions are relaxed in England and Wales on Monday.
However, in a sign of growing pressures in the jobs market amid rapid growth in consumer spending, the professional body for HR and people development said there had been a sharp decline in the numbers of EU workers, fuelling the risk of labour shortages.
Suez Canal starts work to extend double lane after Ever Given grounding
Egypt has started dredging work to extend a second lane that allows for two-way traffic in a southern section of the canal near to where a giant container ship got stuck for six days in March.
The state-owned Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced last week that it was planning to extend a second canal lane that opened in 2015 by 10km to make it 82km long, and would widen and deepen a single lane stretch at the southern end of the canal.
The work had begun following directives from Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “to immediately start implementing the proposed development plan and put in place a timetable for completion as soon as possible”, the SCA said on Saturday.
The grounding of the 440-metre-long Ever Given container ship in a southern section of the canal from 23 to 29 March delayed the passage of hundreds of vessels through the waterway, disrupting global trade.
The new project will extend the two-way section south of the Great Bitter Lake and will be carried out in part by the largest dredger in the Middle East, the Mohab Mamish, which arrived in Egypt last month.
The Ever Given, still loaded with thousands of containers, is being held in the Great Bitter Lake between two stretches of the canal, amid a dispute over an SCA compensation claim against the ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen.
Britain to treble tree planting by 2024 to fight climate change
Britain said it planned to treble tree planting rates over the next three years to help reach its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as part of efforts to fight climate change.
The UK wants to push ahead with its environmental plans and encourage other nations to do the same ahead of its hosting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, in November. read more
George Eustice, UK environment secretary, is set to announce on Tuesday that woodland creation rates will treble by May 2024, with around 7,000 hectares of woodlands planted per year.
"We will make sure that the right trees are planted in the right places and that more green jobs are created in the forestry sector," Eustice is due to say, according to a government statement published on Sunday.
‘Historic’: Chile votes for who will draft new constitution
Santiago, Chile – Maribel Mora Curriao, a Mapuche poet who lives in the Chilean capital, was excited to cast a ballot on Sunday in what she described as a “historic election for the Mapuche people”.
Curriao flew to Freire, a small town in southern Chile, to vote – and be closer to her roots.
“We are voting with pride and identity for the first time. We have taken this process very seriously and we are very much aware that this is a unique opportunity not only for us but for the Chilean people as a whole,” she told Al Jazeera.
“Whatever happens from now on will not take place without the Mapuche communities. It’s now or never.”
Chileans began voting on Saturday in a two-day election for mayors, governors and city councillors across the South American nation.
The voters are also selecting 155 representatives to make up a Constitutional Convention tasked with drafting a new constitution to replace the current one, which was written in the 1980s under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Microsoft execs look to remove Bill Gates after reports of company relationships: WSJ
The divorce between Bill and Melinda Gates wasn't expected to be acrimonious, but revelations about the former Microsoft CEO's infidelity are causing concern among the company's board of directors.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the board is investigating Gates after it it was reported that he had an affair with a Microsoft engineer over the course of several years while Gates was serving as CEO.
"Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000," a Microsoft spokesman told the Journal. "A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern."
New York Times
An Everest expedition abandons base camp after several climbers test positive for the coronavirus.
KATHMANDU, Nepal — A prominent mountaineering company abandoned its expedition to Mount Everest, dismantling its tents at base camp on Saturday after members of its team tested positive for the coronavirus.
An American climber and three Sherpa guides from a 51-person expedition were evacuated from base camp and hospitalized in Kathmandu, according to Ang Tendi Sherpa, managing director of the local agency that obtained the permit for the expedition.
“Rest of the climbers felt insecure,” Mr. Sherpa said. “That’s why the expedition was canceled.”
A second wave of the coronavirus is ravaging Nepal, overwhelming its feeble health care system. On Saturday, the authorities reported 8,167 new cases and 187 deaths.
On the peaks, the spread of the virus is unclear, but signs of trouble are growing.
Designed for disaster: These homes can withstand a Category 5 hurricane
Looking at a brochure from Deltec Homes feels like watching an episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters” — beachfront homes with ornate patios and panoramic windows overlook pristine ocean views.
It’s hard to believe that the same quaint, debonair homes are built to withstand Mother Nature’s ultimate test — a Category 5 hurricane.
It’s something they’ve done before, and will inevitably do again. And in an era marked by strengthening storms and rising seas due to climate change, Deltec Homes has made a business of building for the extreme.Deltec is one of a number of companies that designs, builds and sells custom hurricane-proof homes. The group was born in the 1950s when two brothers — one an engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the other an entrepreneur — began experimenting with the idea of marketing homes designed to survive the inconceivable. Since then, Deltec has contributed to the design installation of more than 5,000 homes worldwide.