Shresta Hebbar Amsadi

The US FDA authorizes first COVID-19 self-testing kits (Source: The Indian express)

On 17 November, the US Food and Drug Administration greenlighted the first coronavirus self-testing kit for home use that provides results within 30 minutes.

The nose-swab test is manufactured by Lucira Health, a company founded in 2013 and situated in Emeryville, California. The new test is authorised for at home-use for those who 14-years-old and older with suspected COVID-19 infection. And for children under 13, the test needs to be performed by a healthcare provider.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorisation to Lucira Health’s rapid all-in-one test that is intended to detect the virus to help counter the rising number of cases. While there exist some tests which allow people to send samples from home, this is the first which can be wholly self-administered and provide results in just 30 minutes. The Lucira test is only used for prescription use as of right now, and all the results are being reported to the government.

 

The Lucira test works by swirling the self-collected sample swab in a sample vial that is then placed in the test unit.

A red light will indicate a positive result, and green light will indicate a negative one. 100 per cent were able to successfully execute the test within two minutes during clinical trials, Lucira reported.

The test kit is expected to cost around $50, according to MedCity News. However, it will not be made available nationwide until 2021, as stated by the company in a press release. The first batch of kits will be allotted to patients of Sutter Health, North California and Cleveland Clinic Florida.

“Being able to quickly determine if a person is infected or not has been a global problem,” said Dr John Chou, a physician and Sutter Health affiliate, in a statement, as reported by MedCity News. “We believe this highly mobile test can make a big difference by providing lab-quality results expeditiously and conveniently. Early, accurate detection is vital to delivering appropriate care and controlling the pandemic.”

Bhavisha Madaan

Climate change a much bigger threat than the coronavirus

(Source: News 18)

According to the Red Cross, the world ought to react with an equivalent urgency to global climate change like it is doing to the coronavirus crisis and that warming poses a larger threat than COVID-19.

 

Even while the pandemic goes on, global climate change isn't taking a clear stop from wreaking disturbance, the International Federation of Red Cross Crescent Societies (IFRC) said during a report.

 In its report on world catastrophes since the Nineteen Sixties, the Geneva-based organisation noticed that one hundred disasters had hit the planet- several of them climate related-since the World Health Organisation declared the pandemic in March.

And while it's progressively possible that one or many vaccines will soon be available against COVID-19, IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain stressed that "unfortunately, there's no vaccine for climate change."

"More than five crore folks have been affected. It's a very, very serious crisis the planet is facing currently", Chapagain said in relation to the pandemic, that has already claimed more than 13 lakh lives.

"Of course, the COVID is there; it's in front of us, it's affecting our families, our friends, our relatives," the IFRC Secretary-General said during a virtual news conference. However, he warned that IFRC expected a significant medium and long-term impact on human life and earth due to drastic changes in the climate.

 

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather and climate-related events have been steadily increasing since the 1906s,  according to the report. In the year 2019 alone, 308 natural disasters hit the earth- 77 per cent of which were climate or weather-related and caused around 24,400 casualties.

Aditi Anilkumar

A historic visit by prime mister Imran khan to Kabul (Source: The Hindu)

Kabul: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, November 19, met with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on his first official visit to Kabul. The meeting encouraged both countries to improve bilateral relationships and also bring to notice the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.

The visit came at a crucial time for Afghanistan as the government is currently holding negotiations with the United States of America and the Taliban in Qatar, Doha. "You come with a with a series of very important messages … but fundamental to this is that violence is not an answer, a comprehensive political settlement for an enduring peace within the framework of our values, our Constitution in the Islamic Republic is the way to the future," Ashraf Ghani said at the presidential palace.

Imran Khan was quick to add "Whatever is possible, we will do to help reduce the violence and help move the Afghan-Taliban talks toward a cease-fire," Khan said. "The whole objective of this visit is to build trust, to communicate more. We will be helping you," he added. 

Kabul and Washington applauded Pakistan for their involvement in getting the Taliban to the peace table. Due to this act, it led to the so-called intra-afghan negotiations that are underway in Doha. 

President of Afghanistan Mr Ghani used this opportunity to not only strengthen bilateral relations but also to bring to light the shared values the two countries withhold such as faith, culture, kinship, values and traditions. He called the visit 'historic' and believed that his visit was an 'important message to help end violence'.

Neither of the leaders addressed the announcement from the United States of America which stated the withdrawal of US troops from afghan regions. It created ripples on both sides of the Afghan conflict. The original deal that was stuck with the Taliban was that the US troops would gradually depart from Afghanistan by April. But with the new announcement by the Pentagon, 2500 soldiers will leave by January, and 2000 or more soldiers will be stationed in Afghanistan.

Bhavisha Madaan

Thousands take to the streets of Berlin due to new coronavirus restrictions (Source: Bloomberg)

Thousands of activists took to the boulevards in Berlin, saying that the new COVID-19 measures sully the commons' rights and independence. These protests are a consequence of the representatives voting on a bill that would emphasise the government's capability to endorse all COVID-19 restrictions. The bill would authorise the government to impose restrictions on all communal contact, rules on mask-wearing, alcohol consumption in public, shutting down shops and discontinuing sports events. Germany has reported over 8.4 lakh COVID-19 cases thus far.


The crowd, around 17,000 in number, consisted of libertarians, constitutional advocates and anti-vaccination protestors. There was also trivial far-right presence in the form of some protestors who were carrying Germany's black, white and red imperial flag. Protestors were seen dancing and chanting "We are free people!" to the tune of the rock band Queen's 'We Will Rock You'. Others paraded with posters that said "We are making a noise because you are stealing our freedom!”, "The mask that enslaves us must go" and "Do think! Don't wear a mask!". "Our demand is to return to democracy,”, said one protestor who refused to give his name. 

Just like the mass protests against the COVID-19 restrictions in August, the marchers took to the steps of the Reichstag parliament building.

German Police released water cannon and pepper spray in an attempt to scatter thousands of fuming protestors. The Police detained approximately 190 people and nine officers were injured.

Protesters near Berlin's momentous Brandenburg Gate flung bottles at Police and set off fume bombs, according to bystanders. Riot police detained some protesters while firing volleys of water and urging crowds by loudspeaker to adjourn. Protesters, whistling and thumping saucepans, were neither keeping the obligatory social distance nor wearing face masks. Some displayed banners with slogans written such as "Stop the corona pandemic lie" and "No to forced vaccinations."

 

Health Minister Jens Spahn addressed the parliament and said that no one would be compelled to be vaccinated and described the pandemic as a 'Once in a Century Phenomenon'.

Shresta Hebbar Amsadi

Taking a large step to save the environment, the UK plans on banning petrol diesel cars by 2030 (Source: Livemint)

United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 18 November announced that Britain would ban new petrol and diesel vehicles as a part of a 10-year point plan for a 'green industrial revolution'.

The government has set aside 12 billion pounds for the 10-point plan, which it claims will create up to 250,000 jobs. “Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected, the UK is looking to the future and seizing the opportunity to build greener,” said Johnson. “The recovery of our planet and our economies must go hand in hand.”

The UK is set to host the annual UN climate conference next year, and Boris Johnson says that he is developing an ambitious plan for a green industrial revolution. He believes that every country in the world needs to take action to secure the future of their children and their grandchildren.

For the plan to work, the country's national infrastructure will need to be improved to support electric vehicles. The investment plan includes the expenditure of 1.3 billion pounds to install charge points all over the country and in everyone's home, street so that it is more convenient to charge their car wherever they go. This would lead to the UK being the first one of the G7 countries to decarbonise road transport.

Five hundred million pounds will also be going towards the mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries and awards of 582 million will be in place for those who buy low emission vehicles and promote people to make the change.

The other areas of focus would be to make cycling and walking more attractive ways of travel while making homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient.  There are also plans to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year and develop world-class technology to remove 10 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030.

Five hundred twenty-five million pounds will be allocated to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants, and 500 million pounds will be earmarked for trialling houses to use hydrogen as their primary gas for cooking, heating etc.

The other vital part of the 10-year plan is the allocation of 5.2 billion pounds to strengthen the coastal defence of England by 2027.

Pratham Chitlangiya

The Middle-east is anticipating the second wave of the virus

(Source: Republic World)

The regional director of the World Health Organisation announced that the only way one can avoid the wrath of the virus is for countries to take necessary preventive measures and tighten the existing restrictions quickly. As the northern hemisphere goes into winter, the potency of the virus also increases.

 

Ahmed al-Mandhari, director of WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region, which covers most of the centre-east; announced during a press briefing from Cairo that countries within the area were loosening their grip after tough lockdowns. The elemental response to an epidemic, right from washing one’s hand to social distancing, remains not fully practised within the Middle East region. He further mentioned that the results of this are catastrophic; since most of the hospitals are crowded throughout. He also expressed concern over the very fact that the virus has sickened over 36 lakh people and killed over 76,000 within the region over the past 9 months.

 

Al-Mandhari warned that the lives of the people are at stake, urging people to stop this tragic premonition from becoming a reality. Iran, Jordan and Morocco reported 60 per cent of the cases while the rest of the cases are from Pakistan and Lebanon. Earlier, Jordan, Tunisia and Lebanon have reported the most important single-day death spikes from the region. 

However, Iran has been the worst of all the regions, where cases have spiked at an increasing rate, thereby leading to full capacity in hospitals, and a rise in healthcare costs significantly. The Iranian government, which was reluctant to impose the lockdown for fear of catering sanctions-hit economy, will now tighten grip within the capital of Tehran and other major cities. But with such little steps, no scope of improvement is to be seen.

Faisal Sultan, the special assistant to the Prime Minister for National Health Services, Pakistan, told reporters that the winter surge had arrived. He further mentioned that Pakistan had managed to regulate the initial outbreak significantly but the second wave as risky as the first one.

 

Tunisia is another country that made the blunder of thinking that the virus is gone and over, only to witness cases soar in recent weeks. It loosened its grip to coexist with the virus cautiously, said Faycal Ben Salah, Director-General of Health after it had been decided that the economy was in shambles and creating catastrophic social consequences.

Even while Al-Mandhari welcomed the news of viable vaccine candidates, he said pandemic was far away from over.

Shresta Hebbar Amsadi

Bobi wine arrest crates unrest in Uganda (Source: Republic World)

Forty-nine people were killed and dozens injured during the protests that broke out on 18 November across in Uganda.

The police in the city of Kampala fired bullets and tear gas at Bobi Wine's supporters, who upon his arrest were in the streets demanding his release. Demonstrators were found burning tyres and debris on the roads and blockading roads. Several businesses closed down, and police presence was thickened.

Three weeks into his official presidential campaign, Ugandan musician and parliamentarian Robert Kyagulanyi (also known as Bobi Wine) has already been arrested twice. The first arrest took place just minutes after his formal nomination in the capital Kampala. The video released by his party shows the police smashing the window of his vehicle in which he and his colleagues were seated in.

Ofwono Opondo, a government spokesman, stated that the reaction of the police was appropriate. He held the protestors responsible for not adopting more 'peaceful methods' and failing to raise and 'resolve' their concerns via legal mediums, as reported by BBC.

His second arrest occurred on 18 November while he was campaigning for the upcoming January Elections against Yoweri Museveni which were interrupted by the police on the orders of the current government and was arrested immediately.

With the unprecedented arrest of Bobi Wine, protests that took the lives of at least forty-nine people began. The official reason for his arrest on both accounts was on the grounds of him planning illegal rallies which exceeded the number of allowed people during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Yoweri Museveni is the longest-serving president of Uganda with 34 years and counting in the office, and he hopes to stay in office for 4 decades. To get his 4 decades, in 2017 he changed the constitution which didn't allow people who were over 75 to rule. The critics have accused his party of using coronavirus as an excuse to get rid of his opposition.

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