News ID: 93978
Publish Date : 04 September 2021 - 21:40

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s top scientific adviser has acknowledged that the ongoing coronavirus health crisis has laid bare “fundamental issues” with America’s public health system that “go far beyond pandemic preparedness.” “The issues include the need to increase overall public health funding, strengthen the public health workforce, eliminate barriers to access, improve data systems, address disparities, improve communications, and improve coordination across federal, state, local, and Tribal authorities,” according to Eric Lander, Director of the Office of Science and Technology, speaking in a background call with reporters. “Much better capabilities” will be required from the U.S. in the face of future biological threats, he cautioned. The geneticist underscored that as any next pandemic will likely be “substantially different” than COVID-19, the U.S. government would be well advised to start preparing now for such an eventuality. “We need better capabilities ... because there’s a reasonable likelihood that another serious pandemic, that could be worse than Covid-19, will occur soon, possibly even within the next decade,” said the geneticist.

BANGKOK (AFP) – Pro-democracy protesters vented their anger in Bangkok’s heavy rain Saturday after Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-cha survived a no-confidence vote in parliament. More than 300 demonstrators marched in central Bangkok’s main shopping mall district carrying red flags and wearing ponchos in the downpour. “The government should be gone. If things were good why would we come out to protest?” a 28-year-old demonstrator told AFP. Ahead of the rally, police used shipping containers to block major routes to the advertised protest site at the central Lumphini Park where protesters had planned to march. There was heavy police presence across the downtown area with riot police and a water cannon truck stationed at the Ratchaprasong intersection near major shopping malls. This week Thai lawmakers debated an opposition-instigated censure motion about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and economic management -- Saturday was the third no-confidence motion vote since the 2019 election.

PAPEETE, Tahiti (AP) — France’s worst coronavirus outbreak is unfolding 12 times zones away from Paris, devastating Tahiti and other idyllic islands of French Polynesia. The South Pacific archipelagos lack enough oxygen, ICU beds and morgue space – and their vaccination rate is barely half the national average. Simultaneous outbreaks on remote islands and atolls are straining the ability of local authorities to evacuate patients to the territory’s few hospitals. “The problem is, there are a lot of deaths before we get there,” lamented Vincent Simon, the head of the regional emergency service. French Polynesia is France’s latest challenge in juggling resources to battle the pandemic in former colonies that stretch around the world. With more than 2,800 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, it holds the national record for the highest infection rate. And that’s only an estimate: Things are so bad that the multi-ethnic territory of about 300,000 residents stopped counting new infections as local health authorities redeployed medical staff to focus on patient care and vaccination instead of testing. Of the 463 virus-related deaths reported in French Polynesia throughout the pandemic, most took place over the past month. Tensions have surfaced with other virus-ravaged French territories. While the central government in Paris sent hundreds of health care workers to the French Caribbean over the summer, Polynesia received just 10 backup nurses. After weeks of pleading by Polynesian officials, the government promised this week to send 100 more.

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s biggest supplier of influenza vaccines said on Saturday it was postponing deliveries due to a Brexit-related shortage of lorry drivers, delaying the government’s winter inoculation campaign. Medics say the campaign offering free flu vaccines to more than 35 million people is even more important this year, after lockdowns for the coronavirus pandemic suppressed the circulation of flu last year. The medical supplier Seqirus confirmed delays of up to two weeks in England and Wales, blaming “unforeseen challenges linked with road freight delays”. Britain has for weeks been grappling with a shortage of lorry drivers, after a post-Brexit exodus of drivers from the European Union. The pandemic has also caused a large backlog of tests for new UK drivers.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is again urging countries to withdraw all foreign militants and mercenaries from Libya, saying they continue to operate throughout the conflict-stricken North African country in violation of last October’s cease-fire agreement “with no discernible abatement of their activities.” The UN chief also urged countries supplying arms and military equipment to the foreign fighters to stop violating the UN arms embargo, saying, the movement of aircraft providing logistical support “also continued unabated” at airbases in central Libya in the strategic city of Sirte and nearby Jufra area. In a report to the UN Security Council, Guterres called for implementation of “a comprehensive plan for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all mercenaries and foreign forces from Libya, with clear timelines.” He also urged Libyan parties “to exert every effort to ensure” that parliamentary and presidential elections are held on Dec. 24 in accordance with the political road map that ended hostilities last year.

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