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Saturday, January 22, 2022

World news round-up: 5 overnight developments from around the globe

Good morning! Begin your day with five key overnight stories from around the world.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: November 28, 2021 9:23:34 am
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, currently circulating in South Africa, as a ‘variant of concern’. It also named it Omicron. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

Here is a round-up of the top developments around the world today.

1.UK, Germany and Italy detect Omicron variant cases

FILE – People travel on a London underground tube train on the Jubilee Line. AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

Britain, Germany and Italy detected cases of the new heavily mutated Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new steps to contain the virus. This comes as more nations imposed restrictions on travel from southern Africa. The discovery of the variant has sparked global concern, a wave of travel bans or curbs and a sell-off on financial markets on Friday as investors worried that Omicron could stall a global recovery from the nearly two-year pandemic.

The two linked cases of Omicron detected in Britain were connected to travel to southern Africa, British health minister Sajid Javid said.

Johnson laid out measures that included stricter testing rules for people arriving in the country but that stopped short of curbs on social activity other than requiring mask wearing in some settings.”We will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result,” Johnson told a news conference .People who had come into contact with people testing positive for a suspected case of Omicron would have to self-isolate for 10 days and the government would tighten the rules on wearing face coverings, Johnson said, adding the steps would be reviewed in three weeks.

2.Israel to ban entry of foreigners from all countries over Omicron

Israel, UAE, El Al Flight, Commercial Flight, Israel Flight (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit/Representational)

Israel on Saturday said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country, making it the first country to shut its borders completely in
response to the potentially more contagious Omicron coronavirus variant, and said it would also reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the spread of the variant. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days.

Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine, Bennett said. The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday.

3.Afghan prime minister defends Taliban’s rule amid crisis

Pakistan cross-border terrorism, UNSC Taliban fighters in Kabul. (File)

Afghanistan’s Taliban prime minister defended the group’s rule in a public address Saturday, saying it was not to blame for a worsening economic crisis and is working to repair the corruption of the ousted government. He also dismissed international pressure for the formation of a more inclusive Cabinet.

The half-hour audio played on state-run media was the first such public address by Mohammed Hassan Akhund since the Taliban captured Kabul and secured their rule over the country three months ago. The Taliban takeover led to a shut-off of international aid to the government and the blocking of billions of dollars in Afghan assets held abroad, worsening an already crumbling economy.

4.Pressure likely to be exerted on Iran if it uses talks to boost nuclear programme -U.S. envoy

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

The United States and its partners are likely to exert pressure on Iran if it uses talks scheduled to resume in Vienna on Monday as pretext to accelerate its nuclear programme, the U.S. special envoy to Iran said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.”If Iran thinks it can use this time to build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better it simply won’t work.

We and our partners won’t go for it,” envoy Robert Malley told BBC Sounds. Monday’s indirect talks between the United States and Iran,
with the participation of major powers, resume after a five-month hiatus.

5.At least two killed, 18 wounded as French convoy faces new protests in Niger

At least two people were killed and 18 injured in western Niger on Saturday when protesters clashed with a French military convoy they blocked after it crossed the border from Burkina Faso, Niger’s government said.

The armoured vehicles and logistics trucks had crossed the border on Friday after being in Burkina Faso for a week by demonstrations there against French forces’ failure to stop mounting violence by Islamist militants.Anger about France’s military presence in its former colonies has been rising in Niger, Burkina Faso and other countries in West Africa’s Sahel region where France has thousands of troops to fight affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Last weekend, hundreds of people in the Burkinabe city of Kaya blocked the French convoy, which is on its way from Ivory Coast to Mali.It was able to leave Burkina Faso on Friday but ran into new protests on Saturday morning less than 30 km (19 miles) across the border in the western Niger town of Tera, where it had stopped to spend the night.”In its attempt to extricate itself, it (the French forces) used force.

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