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COVID-19: Six months after shutting its borders, Australia to allow New Zealanders to enter

SYDNEY: Australia will within weeks allow residents of New Zealand to enter the country without havi..

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SYDNEY: Australia will within weeks allow residents of New Zealand to enter the country without having to quarantine, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Friday (Oct 2), as Canberra seeks to revive its ailing economy as COVID-19 cases begin to slow.

Australia in March closed its borders to all non-citizens and permanent residents to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Opening its borders for the first time to foreigners, McCormack said New Zealand citizens and residents will be allowed to travel to Australia's most populous state New South Wales and its remote Northern Territory from Oct 16.

They will not have to undergo a two-week mandatory quarantine, which is required of all Australians returning from other nations.

"This is the first stage in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries," McCormack told reporters in Canberra.

READ: COVID-19 – New Zealanders may be able to travel to some Australian states before Christmas, PM Ardern says

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New Zealand has effectively eradicated COVID-19, reducing the threat of additional infections in Australia.

While Australia has eased restrictions on its closest ally, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier on Friday those who travel to Australia would have to quarantine on their return.

She also said New Zealand would not open its borders to Australians for now.

READ: COVID-19 – Singapore to lift border restrictions for some visitors from Australia, Vietnam

The travel route is a boost to Australia's economy, which shrank 7 per cent in the three months ended June, the most since records began in 1959, as virus curbs paralysed business activity.

New Zealand is Australia's largest market for visitor arrivals, surpassing China due to the pandemic, according to Australian Tourism 2020 data.

Australia has in recent days accelerated plans to stoke economic growth as COVID-19 cases slow significantly.

New daily coronavirus infections in Australia's hotspot state Victoria have fallen to a near four-month low, authorities said on Friday,

The second most populous state Victoria said seven people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, down from 15 on Thursday and near the fRead More – Source

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Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine

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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.

The inoculations were administered by a household doctor at Windsor Castle, a royal source said.
To prevent inaccuracies and further speculation, Her Majesty, who 94, decided that she would let it be known that she has had the vaccination, the source added. Her husband is 99 years old.
The couple’s son, Prince Charles, tested positive for coronavirus and went into isolation in March. The 72-year-old later said he was lucky to only experience mild symptoms, adding he’d “got away with it quite lightly.”
Meanwhile, their grandson Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, also tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year, UK media reported, though exactly when he contracted the virus is unclear.
The UK has recorded more than 3 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 80,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University on Saturday.
The UK reported 1,325 coronavirus-related fatalities on Friday — its highest ever daily increase in deaths.
Health officials face a deadly start to 2021 as a new coronavirus variant, first detected in the UK, sweeps the nation.
In the capital, London’s mayor declared a “major incident” on Friday, warning that hospitals in the city were close to being overrun.
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.
“The number of cases in London has increased rapidly with more than a third more patients being treated in our hospitals now compared to the peak of the pandemic last April.
“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point,” Khan added. “If we do not take immediate action now, our [National Health Service] could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”

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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger

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Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.

The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.

“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”

It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.

Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.

The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.

Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.

On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/03/dozens-killed-in-suspected-jihadist-attack-in-niger

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Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections

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People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.

The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.

He’s focussing on security and education.

Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.

“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.

Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.

Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2020/12/27/niger-votes-in-presidential-and-legislative-elections

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