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Lions, tigers in U.S. national zoo test presumptive positive for coronavirus




Fecal samples for all great cats, including six African lions, a Sumatran tiger, and two Amur tigers, were collected and tested presumptive positive for coronavirus, said the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. So far there is no evidence to pinpoint the source of the infection.

All of the lions and tigers living in the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in the U.S. capital Washington, D.C. have tested presumptive positive for coronavirus, the zoo said in a press release on Friday.

Fecal samples for all great cats, including six African lions, a Sumatran tiger, and two Amur tigers, were collected and tested presumptive positive, said the zoo. Final results are expected in the next few days.

No other animals at the zoo are showing any signs of infection, said the zoo, which just celebrated panda cub Xiao Qi Ji’s first birthday late last month.

Animal keepers observed decreased appetites, coughing, sneezing, and lethargy in several lions and tigers last weekend said the zoo in the release.

All lions and tigers are being treated with anti-inflammatories and anti-nausea medication to address discomfort and decreased appetite, as well as antibiotics for presumptive secondary bacterial pneumonia, according to the zoo.

They remain under close observation, the zoo added.

Zoo staff still managed the cats’ access to their outdoor habitats since their condition does not require they remain inside. However, given the substantial distance between the animals and visitors, the public is not at risk, the zoo said.

So far there is no evidence to pinpoint the source of the infection, the zoo said, adding it has conducted a thorough investigation of all staff that were in close proximity to the lions and tigers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has authorized the use of a SARS-COV-2 vaccine made specifically for zoo animals by Zoetis. The first round of vaccine disbursement will be administered to select animals identified as susceptible species at both the zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia when it becomes available in the coming months, said the zoo.

It has been standard practice for all animal care staff and essential staff working in the zoo to mask indoors in all public and non-public areas.


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Mandatory COVID-19 Green Pass rule on job market enters into force in Italy





All workers in the Italian job market are required to hold the Green Pass proving COVID-19 vaccination, otherwise they will be put on unpaid leave, according to the latest anti-pandemic protocol that came into effect on Friday.

The latest anti-pandemic protocol requiring all workers in the Italian job market to hold the Green Pass proving COVID-19 vaccination entered into force on Friday.

The Italian government introduced the rule on Sept. 16, then gave companies and employers one month to adjust.

The Green Pass is the certificate showing proof that a person has received at least one dose of the vaccine, or is fully immunized, or has recovered from the infection, or has tested negative in the last 48 hours.

The new rule is now in force for all workers in both private and public sectors.

The rule provides that any worker who fails to show the Green Pass will be put on unpaid leave, but could not be dismissed. They could also face a fine of up to 1,500 euros (1,740 U.S. dollars) for not complying.

Employers would be held responsible for checking their workers enter their job posts with the Green Pass.

A tourist shows her green pass before entering the Torre degli Asinelli in Bologna, Italy, on Aug. 6, 2021. (Xinhua/Gianni Schicchi)

While the majority of Italy’s population accepted it as necessary to further proceed towards normal life, the move met with protests by some parts of the society.

Sit-ins and rallies were registered in some cities on Friday, the largest of which in the two main ports in the country’s northwest and northeast — Genoa and Trieste, respectively.

Some 5,000 protesters were involved in Trieste, where some of the major harbor’s activities were affected, regional governor Massimiliano Fedriga told private all-news TV channel Sky TG24.

Traffic disruption was reported before the ports of Genoa and of Ancona (central Italy). Smaller protests were also seen in Rome, Milan, Turin, and Venice.

Yet, people opposing the vaccination and the mandatory green pass made a minority in the country, as 80.8 percent of the target population — those aged above 12 — have fully immunized, and over 85 percent had a first dose, according to the Health Ministry.

Italy is the first European Union country to go this far in terms of anti-COVID protocols in the job market. The government had moved gradually in an earlier phase, making vaccines mandatory only for workers in essential sectors such as health care and education.

Students enter a primary school in Bologna, Italy, on Sept. 13, 2021. Over 3.8 million students across Italy went back to school on Monday. (Xinhua/Gianni Schicchi)

However, many remained reluctant, and with the beginning of autumn and the need to boost the economy as much as possible, such stringent regulation was deemed as a necessary further push to the ongoing vaccination campaign, which remains strongly recommended but not mandatory.

At least 8 million people aged above 12 have yet to receive the first vaccine dose, according to the latest report provided by the country’s coronavirus emergency commissioner Francesco Figliuolo.

ROME, Oct. 15 (Xinhua)

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Flu numbers continue to spike in capital




Statistics show that flu numbers have continued to spike up in the past month, in the capital Male’.

Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) opened a flu clinic and statistics released by the flu clinic show grim numbers. The clinic on a daily basis sees at least 100 people, with numbers bottoming at 123 cases on October 8, Friday.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) had warned public about increasing common cold and influenza cases at the end of September. The Agency had urged public to keep masks on at all times, while out in public, to avoid crowds, and for high-risk individuals to get covid and flu shots as soon as possible.

HPA has also appealed to public to get tested for covid if flu-like symptoms are detected and to go straight to flu clinic, instead of the hospital.

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The IMF has lowered its global economic outlook due to the Delta spike and a vaccination split





The International Monetary Fund (IMF) modestly lowered its global economic outlook on Tuesday, citing the “great vaccination divide,” supply bottlenecks, and inflation risks as reasons for the COVID-19 spike.

“The global recovery is continuing, but progress has slowed due to the epidemic,” IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said during a virtual news conference held during the IMF and World Bank Group’s annual meetings.

The IMF forecasted worldwide growth of 5.9% in 2021 in its recently issued World Economic Outlook, down 0.1 percentage points from July’s prediction, while warning that the “small headline revision” for the global economy “masks considerable downgrades” for individual nations.

Gopinath said the outlook for low-income developing nations, in particular, has “darkened considerably” due to worsening pandemic dynamics, noting that overall risks to economic prospects have increased and policy trade-offs have become “more difficult.”

According to the report, low-income developing countries are on track to grow by 3.0% this year, down 0.9 percentage point from July’s prediction.

Gopinath said the “big vaccination difference” and substantial variations in policy support are the causes of a “dangerous divergence” in economic prospects among countries, which remains a major concern.

In a remote video interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Petya Koeva Brooks, deputy director of the IMF’s Research Department, said, “We are really concerned (about the vaccine difference) and we are doing everything we can to make the case to be clear on the numbers, which are worrying.”

“Roughly 60% of the population in advanced economies and about a third in emerging markets are completely vaccinated, but the corresponding figure for low-income countries is less than 5% of the population,” Brooks added.

The IMF asked the international community to step up efforts to guarantee that every country has equal vaccine access, to eliminate vaccine reluctance where there is sufficient supply, and to improve everyone’s economic prospects.

Recent contributions in that regard by China, the Group of Seven developed nations, and other countries are “welcome,” according to the report, though donations should be increased to quickly fulfill the obligations.

“I believe there have been promises of surplus vaccines being shared and other similar things. I believe the logistics side of things has been slow “Brooks went on to say that it’s critical to see that these donation pledges are fulfilled.

The IMF official also urged countries to implement “complimentary” measures such as treatments, testing, and contact tracing, stressing that the global lender has asked policymakers to fund $20 billion in assistance for low-income countries.


Source: Xinhua News Agency

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