Connect with us

Living

Japan finds new COVID strain, immigration center reports infections

Published

on

Japan finds new COVID strain, immigration center reports infections

TOKYO — Japan confirmed a new variant of COVID-19, and an infection cluster emerged at a Tokyo immigration facility, presenting new challenges as the country tries to overcome a third wave of the pandemic.

The new variant has been found in 91 cases in the Kanto area of eastern Japan and in two cases at airports, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters Friday. The government is raising surveillance against mutant varieties as they may be more resistant to vaccines, which Japan started to distribute this week.

“It may be more contagious than conventional strains, and if it continues to spread domestically, it could lead to a rapid rise in cases,” Kato said.

The new strain appears to have originated overseas but is different from other types that have been found sporadically in Japan, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. It has the E484K mutation on the spike protein of the virus that has been found in other variants, which may undermine the effectiveness of vaccines.

Japan has reported 151 cases of variants from Britain, South Africa and Brazil, according to the health ministry. The nation has had more than 400,000 cases of COVID-19 with 7,194 fatalities.

Meanwhile, five staff and 39 foreign detainees at a Tokyo immigration facility have tested positive for COVID-19.

All 130 detainees at the facility have been tested for the virus, according to a spokesperson for the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau. None of the cases is serious, and all infected detainees remain quarantined from others.

The representative declined to comment on the nationality of the infected detainees, citing privacy concerns.

Japan’s detention system for immigration law violators and asylum seekers has been widely criticized for its medical standards, monitoring of detainees and response to emergencies.

“Many detainees are locked in a small, closed spaces,” said Motoko Yamagishi, the head of a migrants rights group. “It is regrettable that such a outbreak happened in the centre.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Living

Hawaii considering a rescue fine if hikers don’t follow signs

Published

on

By

Hawaii considering a rescue fine if hikers don't follow signs

Hikers who don’t follow trail signs in Hawaii could face more than just danger to their lives — they could also be required to pay for their own rescue. 

Hawaiian lawmakers are considering a bill that could require hikers to reimburse local rescue teams if they had to be saved because they left marked trails, entered clearly-marked private property or ignored signs saying a trail is closed, according to recent reports. 

SB 363 would also give those hikers additional, criminal fines for petty misdemeanor charges.

State lawmakers are also considering another bill, SB 700, which has been revised to allow local rescue teams to choose whether they have hikers reimburse them for any fees associated with their rescue. 

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, similar bills have previously been introduced in Hawaii’s House and Senate before.

This time, the bills are being considered as a way to help Hawaii’s budget, which is “straining” because of the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper reported.

“It’s an issue that has been brought up in the past in a number of ways, especially in times when budgets are thin and resources are limited,” state Sen. Chris Lee told the Star-Advertiser. “It’s a discussion that everybody is interested in having this year.”

According to the newspaper, the state’s Fire Department opposes the bills. 

“The Honolulu Fire Department does not want to deter anyone from calling 911, thinking there is going to be a cost associated with them getting help,” HFD spokesperson Carl Otsuka told the Star-Advertiser.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Chairwoman Suzanne Case, previously supported an earlier version of SB 700 that required hikers to pay back their rescue costs in written testimony, according to the Star-Advertiser.

“The Department is in support of any strategy that will incentivize the general public to stay within authorized managed areas and already has statutory penalties for violation of laws and rules adopted specifically for going into closed areas,” Case wrote. “While these penalties are in place, absent enforcement and citations, they are clearly not a deterrent.”

The Star-Advertiser reported that Case also noted in her testimony that the DLNR would defer to counties — who are responsible for search and rescue operations — on whether they required hikers to pay for their rescue or not.

According to the Star-Advertiser, hikers frequently get into trouble on the islands and rescuing them can be a dangerous and expensive task.

Continue Reading

Living

Museums are safest indoor activity, study finds

Published

on

By

Museums are safest indoor activity, study finds

For people fatigued with quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study from Germany recommends what to do after getting out of the house.

Don’t go out to eat or get a haircut, don’t go shopping for food or go to the gym —  go to a museum.

According to the Berlin Institute of Technology (TU Berlin) in Germany, the risk of COVID-19 infection via aerosol particles is far lower in museums than in supermarkets, restaurants, offices and on public transportation.

Variables considered were the quality of the airflow, the type of activity carried out in the space, and the dose of aerosol particles inhaled by people in a room.

“What is clear from the study is that it is above all the situations in which we like to be that are unfavorable,” said Martin Kriegel, who helped lead the study. “Situations in which many people come together in a confined space: there you can not ventilate sufficiently, it will always be an unfavorable situation.”

Outdoor activities all increased last year in the face of canceled indoor events and cautions about the dangers of catching the virus while around other people inside.

The study said food shopping, dining indoors or exercising in a gym are at least twice as risky as visiting a museum to view art.

Museums, however, haven’t been considered essential to the populace.

Celeste DeWald, the executive director of the California Association of Museums, told the New York Times earlier this month: “It’s frustrating to see crowded shopping malls and retail spaces and airports, yet museums are completely closed and many have not been able to reopen at all for the last 10 months. […] There is a unique impact on museums.”

Critics think museum closure is a political matter.

In a column for the Los Angeles Times, art critic Carolina A. Miranda called California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s policies “absurd.” Museums in the Golden State remain closed to visitors.

“The wildly uneven criteria speak more to the powerful, well-funded lobbies helping shape public health policy than to anything resembling science or even common sense,” Miranda wrote. “At a moment in which it is possible to get a tattoo or paw the goods at Chanel in Beverly Hills, it should be possible to visit a museum. Period.”

Continue Reading

Living

Italian mafia employs new strategies during COVID-19 lockdown: report

Published

on

By

View of the Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda, empty, with no tourists and closed shops and restaurants , on January 27, 2021.

Italy’s mafia reportedly provided stimulus for some struggling small businesses in the country and there is concern that these establishments will become beholden to these mobsters going forward.

The Financial Times, citing a study by Rome’s interior ministry on organized crime, reported that small or mid-sized businesses in the country were given the funds, but the mafia then reverted to the “traditional intimidatory conduct aimed at acquiring control of their economic activities.”

There is fear that these businesses could become “an instrument for money laundering and recycling illicit capital.”

It has been widely reported that Italy’s economy has suffered a dramatic blow from the coronavirus outbreak. The country is pinning its recovery hope on Mario Draghi, its new prime minister who has been credited with saving the euro. He has been tasked with figuring out how to best employ the $240 billion in relief funds from Europe the country will receive to combat the virus and bring back the economy.

Reuters reported that the Italian economy shrank by 2.0% in Q4 2020, and 8.8% over the whole year. The report called it the “steepest annual GDP drop for Italy since WW2.

The FT reported that there has been a drop in some crimes normally associated with organized crime like counterfeiting and robberies, but possible arsons—that could be tied to racketeering—were comparable to 2019.

Continue Reading

Trending