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Panic buying in Taiwan as new COVID-19 rules kick off | Coronavirus pandemic News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



Authorities say there is no need to hoard instant noodles or toilet paper after new COVID-19 restrictions trigger panic buying.Authorities in Taiwan have appealed to people to avoid panic buying of items such as instant noodles and toilet paper as new curbs on gatherings and movement took effect to rein in the spread of COVID-19.
Taiwan raised its coronavirus alert level in the capital Taipei and the surroundings on Saturday, imposing two weeks of restrictions that will shut many venues and limit gatherings.
While total infections since the start of the pandemic remain low at 1,475, a recent spike in community transmissions have alarmed a population that had become accustomed to life staying close to normal, with no full lockdowns of the kind seen elsewhere.
In messages late on Saturday, the president, premier and economy ministry took to Facebook to say there was no need to hoard or rush to the shops, after people scrambled to stock up on basic goods, mainly instant noodles and toilet paper.
“After more than a year of preparation, the country’s anti-pandemic materials, civilian goods and raw materials are sufficient, and the stores are also operating as usual to replenish goods,” President Tsai Ing-wen said.

The COVID-19 alert has been raised to level 3 in Taipei & New Taipei. Please carefully read the information in the link below, share it with those you know, & remember to follow these guidelines to ensure that you & those around you stay safe & healthy.
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) May 16, 2021

French supermarket chain Carrefour said it was limiting purchases of items such as masks and instant noodles in its Taiwan stores, asking people to buy only what they need.

Hello covid anxiety #taipei pic.twitter.com/I0o6hZNxPK
— Erin Hale (@erinhale) May 15, 2021

The economy ministry showed pictures of warehouses piled to the ceiling with boxes of instant noodles, saying supplies were “like a mountain” with plenty of toilet paper and canned food to go around as well.
Premier Su Tseng-chang made a similar appeal on his Facebook page. He triggered amusement early last year, during a previous rush for toilet paper, by saying people “only have one butthole” and should calm down.
While not ordering a total lockdown, the government is urging people to stay at home as much as possible.
The health ministry brought out its dog mascot, a shiba inu called Zongchai, to reinforce the message on social media.
“Study Zongchai and stay at home,” it said, showing pictures of the canine lying on the floor resting.
 








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UK health service under pressure despite pandemic promises From “World News Headlines, Latest International News, World Breaking News – Times of India”



People wearing protective masks walk past a Burberry store at Covent Garden in LondonLONDON: In April last year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the doctors and nurses who saved his life after he spent days in hospital intensive care with Covid-19. In an emotional address on television, he promised all the necessary funds for the state-run National Health Service (NHS), which is Europe’s biggest employer. But 12 months on, frontline health workers said that promise rings hollow and they feel “betrayed”, as experts warn the system is imploding for lack of investment. Even before the global health crisis hit, the NHS — a cherished national institution funded by taxation and providing free healthcare — was already under severe strain. “The NHS had just finished the most difficult winter. We were behind on delays of treatment, on all metrics,” said Stuart Tuckwood, nursing officer for the public sector union Unison. Hospitals then had to cope with two devastating waves of Covid-19 that stretched staff to the limit and put capacity at breaking point. Since Britain’s outbreak began, more than 127,000 people have died after testing positive for the disease — one of the worst death tolls in the world. Staff are physically and mentally exhausted, said Tuckwood. “Then the government has indicated that all it’s going to offer is a one-percent raise for NHS workers. It feels like a massive betrayal,” he told AFP. The proposed pay increase has caused anger far and wide, prompting calls from the main opposition Labour party — which set up the NHS in 1948 — for a much bigger award. Even pop star Dua Lipa weighed in at this week’s Brit Awards, saying frontline workers should be given a “fair pay rise”. A British Medical Association survey of 2,100 staff indicated that more than one in five plan to leave the NHS and change careers because of Covid-related stress and fatigue. Nurses are widely viewed as underpaid, while auxiliaries and other staff earn even less, with many living below the poverty line. The Royal College of Nursing wants a 12.5 percent pay rise, while Unison is calling for a one-off £2,000 ($2,809, 2,325 euros) per person bonus for the year. Franco Sassi, professor of international health policy and economics at Imperial College, is concerned about the “lack of additional structural funding for the NHS, beyond the commitment of expenditure to face the pandemic emergency”. Health spending in Britain was already 43 percent lower than in Germany, and 15 percent less than in France before the crisis, he wrote in a note on the university’s website. The number of doctors — 2.8 per 1,000 people — is also “well below EU averages”, while Britain has the second-lowest number of hospital beds in Europe. If this backlog is not addressed, “the NHS will fail to meet patient needs and expectations in a post-pandemic world”, he said. “It will place additional demands on public finances, already under significant strain, but the risks involved in leaving the NHS underfunded are too great.” Johnson’s Conservative government — regularly accused of wanting to privatise the NHS — has defended its proposed pay award. The Department of Health pointed out that public sector pay increases have been suspended because of the economic situation caused by the pandemic. More than one million NHS staff had been given new multi-year pay deals, leading to a rise of more than 12 percent for newly qualified nurses. Junior doctors’ pay scales will go up by 8.2 percent while an extra £63 billion has been made available for health services in the last year, and £29 billion in 2021. “This includes £1 billion to support NHS recovery by incentivising providers to address backlogs and tackle long waiting lists which have built up because of the pandemic,” the department said. The backlog is causing concern. NHS figures this week showed nearly five million people were waiting for routine hospital treatment — and 436,000 for longer than a year. George Stoye, associate director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said long waits were likely “for years to come”, even as Covid-19 cases fall. “The waiting times figures are only the tip of the iceberg… Catching up on this care will take years and billions of pounds of additional health spending,” he said. He welcomed a £160 million government package to tackle the backlog but said a “clear plan” was needed to boost staff numbers to cope. “After more than a year of tackling the pandemic, a clear workforce strategy that rewards and retains staff is more vital than ever,” he added. FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail







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Experts warn extreme weather could cause ‘climate trauma’ pandemic From “BBC News – World”



Experts are warning that more people could experience mental health problems due to climate change.Research shows that extreme weather events like floods and typhoons, made more likely by climate change, can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression.Mitzi Jonelle Tan, who lives in the Philippines, has experienced numerous typhoons. She told BBC Minute’s Olivia Le Poidevin how, what she describes as “climate trauma” has impacted her.







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Success story Taiwan faces its worst outbreak in pandemic From “World”




The island of Taiwan imposed new restrictions in its capital city on Saturday as it battled its worst outbreak since the pandemic began







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Taiwan records 180 new cases in island’s worst Covid outbreak of pandemic | Taiwan From “World news | The Guardian”



Taiwan has reported 180 new cases of Covid-19 as it rushes to contain the worst outbreak the island has seen since the pandemic began. Authorities have raised the alert level in Taipei and the neighbouring county of New Taipei, limiting family gatherings, and ordering numerous industries to close.Taiwan has been one of the world’s pandemic success stories, and its case numbers remain low relative to outbreaks around the world. But Saturday’s cases, which bring its total number so far to about 1,470 among a population of 24 million, mark the highest rates of community transmission since the pandemic began. Until now almost all of Taiwan’s cases were detected in new arrivals held in hotel quarantine.Of the 180 cases, 132 were reportedly without a known source.At a press conference on Saturday, Premier Su Tseng-chang and cabinet ministers announced the lifting of the alert level for Taipei and New Taipei from two to three, on a four-level scale, where four establishes a lockdown. Beginning 4pm Saturday they will remain in place until 28 May, authorities said.According to guidelines published in local media, level 3 generally includes mandatory mask wearing in public, limits on outdoor gatherings to 10 and indoor gatherings to five, and the closure of all businesses except essential services, law enforcement, government services, and health services.However in Saturday’s announcement, food and beverage outlets were only ordered to close if they could not fully implement customer ID registration and social distancing measures. Customers were urged to choose takeout over dining in. Weddings and funerals have not been cancelled but will require registration of attendees, and the limits on gatherings did not apply to schools or work.Within hours of the announcement some supermarkets were mobbed by shoppers, despite no apparent suggestion that supermarkets would close.Scenes at a grocery store in Taipei, only 30 minutes after new Level 3 pandemic restrictions were announced. Shelves are empty. Checkout lines are snaking around the building. The wait is 1+ hour and getting longer 🛒 pic.twitter.com/YuzQtp4Zv3— Leslie V. Nguyen-Okwu 阮蕾 (@lnguyenokwu) May 15, 2021
Under the general guidelines, residents in neighbourhoods where community transmission has occurred – for example in Taipei’s Wanhua district which is at the centre of a major cluster – must stay within defined perimeters and comply with testing. Schools and public gatherings in the neighbourhood would also be suspended.Residents of Wanhua, where the outbreak was originally centred around several hostess bars and tea houses linked to the sex work industry, have been reporting in droves to rapid testing clinics since Friday. Authorities have promised law enforcement has no intention of targeting sex workers or undocumented migrants.Among Saturday’s reported cases, just 43 were in Wanhua.The rest of Taiwan remains on alert level 2 but entertainment venues have been ordered to close and religious gatherings banned. The Taiwan-Palau travel bubble has also been suspended until 8 June, and Hong Kong has increased its quarantine requirements for anyone arriving from Taiwan.The health minister, Chen Shih-chung, said alert level 4 would not be triggered unless there were 100 or more daily cases for seven consecutive days.The outbreak has caught Taiwan by surprise, after almost 18 months with no major outbreaks. The island state established border controls early on and runs a strict hotel and home quarantine system. However like several nations in the Pacific which had similar success, the country has a low vaccination rate, at least partly due to struggles convincing its population to get vaccinated. While the rollout has prioritised vulnerable and high risk groups, in recent weeks health services have offered self-paid vaccines to the general public in order to use up doses before they expire. On Friday president Tsai Ing-wen announced Taiwan’s first locally developed vaccine would be available by July.Taipei’s mayor and senior hospital authorities were expected to address the press on Saturday afternoon.







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Second year of Covid-19 pandemic set to ‘be far more deadly’ – WHO chief — RT World News From “RT World News”



The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the second year of the ongoing pandemic is set to be deadlier than the first, while urging countries to help boost the COVAX vaccine scheme against Covid-19.

Speaking at a media briefing on Friday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus laid out the WHO’s concerns about the slow rollout of the vaccination scheme, as rich countries snap up doses to inoculate their own population, instead of ensuring that at-risk groups in lower income countries are protected.“We’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first,” Tedros stated, before going on to urge states to reconsider vaccinating younger members of their population and “instead donate vaccines to COVAX.”The WHO has been critical of governments focused on achieving a 100% domestic inoculation, rather than working toward the global effort to tackle the virus. Accepting that he understands why nations might want to take a domestic-first approach, he urged governments to address the low vaccine supply in low and lower-middle income countries where they haven’t had enough doses to even fully immunize healthcare workers.

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The COVAX scheme is an international project, launched by the WHO, the European Commission and France, to help ensure rapid, fair and equitable access of Covid vaccines to people in all countries, particularly those in less fortunate nations. Since its creation, the program has sent 59 million doses of Covid vaccines to 122 participating countries.The latest remarks from the WHO chief come amid concern that new variants of the Covid-19 virus, specifically the Indian strain, could cause a global spike in case numbers, as it appears more transmissible than the original disease. While there is no reported evidence to show it evades Covid vaccines currently in use, health officials have expressed concern that it could spread quickly in countries that have had slow inoculation drives or a lower uptake of jabs.Like this story? Share it with a friend!







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Pandemic To Be ‘Far More Deadly’ This Year, Warns WHO From “NDTV News – World-news”



The pandemic has killed at least 3,346,813 people worldwide.Geneva: World health experts issued a grim warning Friday that the second year of Covid-19 was set to be “far more deadly”, as Japan extended a state of emergency amid growing calls for the Olympics to be scrapped.”We’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first,” said the World Health Organization’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.The mood also darkened in Japan where the coronavirus state of emergency took in another three regions just 10 weeks before the Olympics, while campaigners submitted a petition with more than 350,000 signatures calling for the Games to be cancelled.With Tokyo and other areas already under emergency orders until the end of May, Hiroshima, Okayama and northern Hokkaido, which will host the Olympic marathon, will now join them.The move to combat a fourth wave putting Japan’s medical system under strain comes with public opinion firmly opposed to holding the Games this summer.Kenji Utsunomiya, once candidate for Tokyo governor, urged Games organisers to “prioritise life” over ceremony as he submitted the petition to capital authorities.The pandemic has killed at least 3,346,813 people worldwide since the virus first emerged in late 2019, according to an AFP tally of official data.There was bad news for Taiwan too with the capital indefinitely closing down entertainment venues, libraries and sports centres in the wake of an outbreak of infections first detected among pilots.The island has been a global leader in containing the pandemic, with just 1,290 confirmed cases and 12 deaths.Taipei’s decision, effective from Saturday, covers bars, dance clubs, karaoke lounges, nightclubs, saunas and Internet cafes as well as hostess clubs and teahouses.Sputnik vaccines reach IndiaIndia meanwhile started deploying Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the first foreign-made shot to be used in the country that has been reeling from an explosion in cases and deaths.The first token batch of Sputnik vaccines — reportedly 150,000 doses — arrived on May 1 and a second delivery is expected in the next few days.A number of leading India-based drugmakers have agreements for local production of Sputnik V with the aim to produce over 850 million doses of the jab per year.India has been adding roughly as many new Covid cases daily as the rest of the world put together.More than 260,000 Indians have died, according to official figures.But in Europe, tourist hotspots are opening up.Greece kickstarted its tourism season on Friday, hoping to reverse last year’s miserable summer.”I hope to forget this damn Covid,” said Jil Wirries, a 28-year old student from Hanover, Germany, collecting luggage on the island of Crete.”Everything is terrible in Germany… people are depressed… I’m so happy to be here.”France and Spain launched tourism campaigns this week too while Italy said Friday it was scrapping a quarantine requirement for visitors from the EU, Britain and Israel who test negative for the coronavirus.And in the US, the top health agency on Thursday said it was lifting mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.’Milestone’Biden declared a major victory in the battle against the virus that has seen more than 580,000 Americans die.”I think it’s a great milestone, a great day,” he said.Some, however, said they would continue to wear their masks out of caution.”I’m still going to wear a mask inside,” said Mubarak Dahir, a 57-year-old tourist in the capital Washington, visiting from Florida. “I think it’s premature, it’s a little dangerous to believe that we are that far already.”Almost 60 percent of US adults have now received one or more doses, while cases are falling fast, down to a seven-day-average of 38,000 or 11 per 100,000.And the US campaign to vaccinate adolescents aged 12-to-15 began Thursday in earnest following the authorisation of the Pfizer vaccine in this age group.But Friday, the WHO urged wealthy countries to stop vaccinating children and instead donate doses to poorer nations.”I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to Covax,” said WHO chief Tedros.Portugal to let fans inCovid continues to sow turmoil in the world of sport, with the May 29 Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea shifted from Istanbul to Porto.Portugal announced Friday that British tourists and football fans will be allowed in.The Turkish Grand Prix, which was only drafted onto the Formula One calendar as a replacement for the cancelled Canada GP two weeks ago, was itself axed on Friday.Formula One chiefs announced they will instead return to the sport’s safe haven of Austria.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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Greyhound ends Canadian operations after nearly a century, hit by pandemic : worldnews From “World News”



This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 69%. (I’m a bot)Greyhound has permanently closed its services in Canada after nearly a century, the inter-city bus operator said on Thursday, as the COVID-19 pandemic dented demand for public transport.The move has no impact on Greyhound Lines Inc, which is a separate entity from Greyhound Canada, and will continue to operate cross-border express services when the border reopens.Greyhound, which started operations in Canada in 1929, said the federal and provincial governments had not extended needed investment in inter-city bus services.Extended Summary | FAQ | Feedback*{display:inline-block;vertical-align:middle}.t9oUK2WY0d28lhLAh3N5q{margin-top:-23px}._2KqgQ5WzoQRJqjjoznu22o{display:inline-block;-ms-flex-negative:0;flex-shrink:0;position:relative}._2D7eYuDY6cYGtybECmsxvE{-ms-flex:1 1 auto;flex:1 1 auto;overflow:hidden;text-overflow:ellipsis}._2D7eYuDY6cYGtybECmsxvE:hover{text-decoration:underline}._19bCWnxeTjqzBElWZfIlJb{font-size:16px;font-weight:500;line-height:20px;display:inline-block}._2TC7AdkcuxFIFKRO_VWis8{margin-left:10px;margin-top:30px}._2TC7AdkcuxFIFKRO_VWis8._35WVFxUni5zeFkPk7O4iiB{margin-top:35px}._7kAMkb9SAVF8xJ3L53gcW{display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;margin-bottom:8px}._7kAMkb9SAVF8xJ3L53gcW>*{-ms-flex:auto;flex:auto}._1LAmcxBaaqShJsi8RNT-Vp{padding:0 2px 0 4px;vertical-align:middle}._3_HlHJ56dAfStT19Jgl1bF,.nEdqRRzLEN43xauwtgTmj{padding-right:4px}._3_HlHJ56dAfStT19Jgl1bF{padding-left:16px}._2QZ7T4uAFMs_N83BZcN-Em{font-family:Noto Sans,Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:400;line-height:18px;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-ms-flex-flow:row nowrap;flex-flow:row nowrap}._19sQCxYe2NApNbYNX5P5-L{cursor:default;height:16px;margin-right:8px;width:16px}.isInIcons2020 .icon._19sQCxYe2NApNbYNX5P5-L{margin:-2px 8px 0 0}._3XFx6CfPlg-4Usgxm0gK8R{font-size:16px;font-weight:500;line-height:20px}._34InTQ51PAhJivuc_InKjJ{color:var(–newCommunityTheme-actionIcon)}._29_mu5qI8E1fq6Uq5koje8{font-size:12px;font-weight:500;line-height:16px;display:inline-block;word-break:break-word}._2BY2-wxSbNFYqAy98jWyTC{margin-top:10px}._3sGbDVmLJd_8OV8Kfl7dVv{font-family:Noto Sans,Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:400;line-height:21px;margin-top:8px;word-wrap:break-word}._1qiHDKK74j6hUNxM0p9ZIp{margin-top:12px}.Jy6FIGP1NvWbVjQZN7FHA,._326PJFFRv8chYfOlaEYmGt,._1eMniuqQCoYf3kOpyx83Jj,._1cDoUuVvel5B1n5wa3K507{-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;margin-top:12px;width:100%}._1eMniuqQCoYf3kOpyx83Jj{margin-bottom:8px}._2_w8DCFR-DCxgxlP1SGNq5{margin-right:4px;vertical-align:middle}._1aS-wQ7rpbcxKT0d5kjrbh{border-radius:4px;display:inline-block;padding:4px}._2cn386lOe1A_DTmBUA-qSM{border-top:1px solid var(–newCommunityTheme-widgetColors-lineColor);margin-top:10px}._2Zdkj7cQEO3zSGHGK2XnZv{display:inline-block}.wzFxUZxKK8HkWiEhs0tyE{font-size:12px;font-weight:700;line-height:16px;color:var(–newCommunityTheme-button);cursor:pointer;text-align:left;margin-top:2px}._3R24jLERJTaoRbM_vYd9v0._3R24jLERJTaoRbM_vYd9v0._3R24jLERJTaoRbM_vYd9v0{display:none}._38lwnrIpIyqxDfAF1iwhcV{background-color:var(–newRedditTheme-line);border:none;height:1px;margin:16px 0}.yobE-ux_T1smVDcFMMKFv{font-size:16px;font-weight:500;line-height:20px}._2DVpJZAGplELzFy4mB0epQ{margin-top:8px}._2DVpJZAGplELzFy4mB0epQ .x1f6lYW8eQcUFu0VIPZzb{color:inherit}._2DVpJZAGplELzFy4mB0epQ svg.LTiNLdCS1ZPRx9wBlY2rD{color:inherit;fill:inherit;padding-right:8px}._2DVpJZAGplELzFy4mB0epQ ._18e78ihYD3tNypPhtYISq3{font-family:Noto Sans,Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:400;line-height:18px;color:inherit}
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India’s political prisoners in bad health, lose family amid COVID | Coronavirus pandemic News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



“Suppose my daughter has to stay in jail for a really long time and there comes a time when she is not able to see me. I am growing old, maybe I won’t get to see her.”
Mahavir Singh Narwal had said this in November last year, his voice cracking.
As a ferocious second wave of the coronavirus pandemic erupted in India earlier this year, the 71-year-old retired professor could not meet his only daughter Natasha, one of India’s numerous political prisoners.
Narwal died on Sunday – awaiting his daughter’s release from a jail in capital New Delhi – after he contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalised in the northern Haryana state.
As her father’s condition deteriorated in hospital, Natasha filed a bail plea seeking release to look after her ailing father. But it was too late.
A day after Narwal’s death, the court granted the 32-year-old activist a three-week interim bail, calling it “imperative”, to allow her to cremate her father.

Natasha Narwal’s last #salute to her father Mahavir Narwal pic.twitter.com/MxEncUBzdG
— Charmy Harikrishnan ചാമി ഹരികൃഷ്ണൻ (@charmyh) May 11, 2021

Natasha, 32, is among dozens of activists jailed last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), a stringent anti-terror law that allows detention for up to 180 days without charges, despite outrage by rights groups and international organisations.
The activists are accused of a “conspiracy” to create religious riots in Delhi after they organised protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2019.
At least 50 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in days-long violence during the anti-CAA protests in the northeastern part of the capital in February last year.
Hundreds of people, including university students, rights activists, academics and journalists, were arrested as the Hindu nationalist government clamped down on dissent across the country, even as a deadly pandemic raged.

There is no doubt this is the darkest hour in the journey of the Indian republic. Democracy has never been this fragile.
Harsh Mander, Prominent activist

Fearing an outbreak of the viral disease in overcrowded prisons, activists and rights groups have been demanding the release of India’s political prisoners, some of whom are in their 70s and 80s and therefore vulnerable to infection.
But most of their pleas have gone unheard, with rare exceptions made only when the condition of a prisoner turned critical.
“India treats its undertrial political prisoners as terrorists and insurrectionists,” prominent social activist Harsh Mander told Al Jazeera.
“They should have been given bail for the sake of their safety, and of other prisoners and the staff. Instead, the government has made new arrests.”
Natasha Narwal, in PPE coveralls, performing the last rites of her father [Manoj Dhaka/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]The continued incarceration of the activists has distanced them from the deaths and sufferings of their relatives, often taking away the final moments of grief and closure.
In a statement, Pinjra Tod, the women’s collective Natasha is associated with, said even after her release on interim bail, “one cannot rejoice.”
“The father who she is going to cremate wearied himself for this moment: when she would walk out of jail and into the warmth of his arms, not the horror of his cold body,” the collective said in a statement.
‘System deaf to our cries of pain’
On May 3, Hany Babu, a jailed academic and staunch anti-caste activist, complained of an acute eye infection which has led to a gradual loss of his vision, his wife Jenni Rowena said.
The 55-year-old professor at the University of Delhi was arrested in July last year by India’s premier investigation agency for his alleged role in the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
The case refers to clashes that erupted between Dalits – formerly referred to as “the untouchables” – and Hindu right-wing groups in Bhima-Koregaon villages in the western state of Maharashtra on December 31, 2017.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) accused several activists and academics – including Babu, Gautam Navlakha, Father Stan Swamy, Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde, and Varavara Rao, among others – of having links with the extreme-left Maoist rebels and conspiring against the government, including “plotting the assassination” of the Indian prime minister.
Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde at a police station in Pune on February 19, 2019 [File: Ravindra Joshi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]Most of these prisoners are elderly activists who have been denied bail amidst the pandemic. Their continuous detentions have resulted in serious health complications.
“[The infection] has compromised vital organs and poses a significant threat to his life if it spreads to the brain,” Babu’s wife Rowena told Al Jazeera.
Despite Babu’s lawyers writing to officials at Tajola jail in Maharashtra, where he is held, he was not taken to the hospital. Instead, he was taken to a local eye specialist, who prescribed anti-bacterial medicines and asked him to return in two days.
But he was not taken back, his family told Al Jazeera.
Tajola prison has 3,500 prisoners against the recommended capacity of 2,124. On May 7, a 22-year-old undertrial prisoner died of COVID-19 in the jail while another is in hospital. Most of the overcrowded jails across India lack basic healthcare facilities.
Rowen said Babu has been deprived of access to clean water to wash his eyes in the prison. “He is forced to dress his eyes with soiled towels,” she told Al Jazeera.
Other prisoners have also alleged inhuman treatment and denial of medical attention.
Swamy, 84, suffers from Parkinson’s disease. He was denied a straw sipper. Navlakha was denied spectacles. Tembule, 72, has asthma.
Rights activist Gautam Navlakha addresses a gathering attended by writer and activist Arundhati Roy, right, and others in Kolkata in this April 14, 2010 photo [File: Deshakalyan Chowdhury/AFP]“The thought of having Hany beg for as basic as essential health services is heart-wrenching,” says Rowena, who has been spending her days in anxiety since the devastating second COVID-19 wave began.
“We are dealing with a callous and opaque system which is deaf to our cries of pain,” she told Al Jazeera.
‘Darkest hour in journey of Indian republic’
On Tuesday, United Against Hate, a civil society initiative, organised an online event with the families of jailed activists, who have written to the Maharashtra government seeking interim bail, citing coronavirus cases detected among inmates and staffers in the jails.
“Many of the undertrial detainees are over 60 years, with comorbidities and are susceptible to rapid deterioration of health in the event of COVID-19 infection,” said the letter.
“We are increasingly worried about the medical assistance that would be available to the prison inmates should they contract the deadly disease.”
Activist Mander told Al Jazeera the UAPA “is like a blank cheque, booking anybody under anything”.
“All the dissent is dubbed as an act of conspiracy of insurrection or waging a war against India. Grounds are not conveyed and the government keeps these ideas imprisoned indefinitely.”
The United Nations has called on governments to reduce their prison population wherever possible due to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the Indian government is yet to release journalists, human rights activists or peaceful critics held on bogus charges including those of sedition and terrorism which make bail hard,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera.
Ganguly said the Indian government, by using laws such as the UAPA or sedition, is making “the process a punishment”.
“The use of these laws here are disproportionate and unlawful,” she said, demanding that the “defenders of human rights and freedom of speech” and “all people held for peaceful protests” must be released.
Mander said India’s descent into autocracy has hastened under a Hindu nationalist government.
“There is no doubt that this is the darkest hour in the journey of the Indian republic. Democracy has never been this fragile,” he said. “There is clearly an agenda of transforming India into a very different country than that was promised in the constitution.”








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WTO can show ‘relevance’ with vaccine waiver, US trade rep says | Coronavirus pandemic News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



For the second day in a row, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai heard criticism from Republican US lawmakers that the intellectual property rights waiver will give critical biopharmaceutical technology to China, Russia and other strategic rivals while failing to increase vaccine supplies.United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Thursday that World Trade Organization negotiations over intellectual property waivers for COVID-19 vaccines are a chance for the deeply divided trade body to make itself relevant to the world’s needs.
Tai, speaking to the House Ways and Means Committee, said she was committed to entering negotiations that take into account concerns from all sides, including drug companies.
“The WTO has not got a record of moving quickly, or getting to yes, across 164 members who must all agree, very often,” Tai said. “This is the opportunity for the WTO to show its relevance for mankind.”
For a second day in a row, Tai heard criticism from Republican lawmakers that the intellectual property rights waiver will give critical biopharmaceutical technology to China, Russia and other strategic rivals while failing to increase vaccine supplies.
Republican Representative Devin Nunes told Tai that he is concerned China is one of the few countries that could quickly manufacture messenger RNA vaccines, a technology partly developed with US tax dollars.
“It really seems like they [China] want to steal this very new technology, especially as it relates to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines,” he said.
Tai said the administration was working to exercise leadership on the issue to try to reach a solution that saves lives and puts the world back on a faster growth track, which will benefit the US.
India and South Africa, the proponents of the original, much broader proposal, are expressing “that they feel extremely vulnerable in not having access to vaccines and not being able to make them either,” Tai said.
On Wednesday, Tai told a Senate hearing that companies making vaccines could be “a hero” by helping the world gain increased access to COVID-19 vaccines.
She declined to discuss details of her consultations with drug companies before announcing the decision to join WTO waiver negotiations last week, but said that some are driven by more than their obligations to shareholders.
“Some of them do see themselves as important actors in the public health ecosystem in the world,” she said.
Tai said that the intellectual property waiver was just one of a number of actions that would be required to increase manufacturing and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.







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