Latest: NKorea withdraws from soccer games, citing virus


SEOUL, South Korea – South Korean officials say North Korea has told Asian football’s governing body they will not make the World Cup qualifiers to be played in South Korea this month. next due to coronavirus issues.

Kim Min-soo, an official with the South Korean Football Association, said on Tuesday that the Asian Football Confederation had asked the North Korean Football Association to reconsider its decision. He said the North notified AFC of their intention to abandon matches on Friday.

The Northern Olympic Committee said last month it had decided to abandon the Tokyo Olympics this summer to protect its athletes from COVID-19.

An official from South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said Seoul still hopes the North will participate in football matches, saying the events will provide a rare opportunity for sports exchanges during a period of bad bilateral relations.

The North has virtually halted all cooperation with the South and resumed testing of short-range weapons amid a stalemate in the broader nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.

The two Koreas belong to Group H in the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. After a one-month delay due to the pandemic, the remaining group matches have been set for June in South Korea.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE HAPPENS:

AMSTERDAM – The European Union’s pharmaceutical regulator announced on Tuesday that it has started an ongoing review of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine to assess its efficacy and safety, a first step towards possible approval for use in the block of 27 countries.

The European Medicines Agency said on Tuesday its decision to start the review was based on preliminary results from laboratory and clinical studies.

“These studies suggest that the vaccine triggers the production of antibodies” which fight the coronavirus “and may help protect against the disease,” the agency said in a statement.

The EMA, which has so far approved four vaccines against the coronavirus, added that no marketing authorization application for the Sinovac vaccine has yet been submitted.

The agency said its experts “will assess the data as it becomes available to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks” of the vaccine. The continuous review will continue until “sufficient evidence is available for a formal marketing authorization application,” the EMA said, adding that it could not predict the timeframe.

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SEOUL, South Korea – The chairman of one of South Korea’s largest dairy companies has resigned after his company was accused of deliberately spreading false information that his yogurt is helping prevent COVID-19.

Hong Won-sik and the rest of his family will always retain their dominant share of Namyang dairy products.

“I express my sincere apologies for causing the disappointment and anger of the people of our country over the Bulgarian controversy at a time when the country is going through a difficult time because of COVID-19,” Hong said on Tuesday, heartbreaking.

Namyang funded research that he actively promoted through the media and a symposium last month that claimed his ‘Bulgaris’ yogurt drinks were found to be effective in reducing the risk of coronavirus infections.

Namyang’s stock prices temporarily rose before the South Korean Ministry of Food Safety and Medicines sued the company for false advertising, saying the research was questionable and did not involve any animal testing or clinical trials.

Police searched Namyang’s headquarters in Seoul last week. Namyang CEO Lee Kwang-bum has offered to step down.

Hong said he would take “all responsibility” by stepping down as president. He has promised not to pass on management rights to his children, which is a widely criticized traditional practice in South Korean family businesses.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The government of Kuwait is banning unvaccinated residents from traveling abroad from the end of the month, the latest attempt to tame the spiraling coronavirus outbreak in the Arabian Gulf Sheikh.

The Cabinet decision, which is due to take effect on May 22, sparked instant anger and confusion, just after health officials announced that global vaccine shortages would force them to delay the distribution of second doses of vaccine. Those who received the first dose of Pfizer-BioNtech must wait six weeks for their second, and recipients of Oxford-AstraZeneca must wait 3-4 months.

The government said those who could not get vaccinated for whatever reason would be exempt from the new travel ban. Already, authorities have banned expatriates from entering the Gulf state, blocking many foreign workers and their families abroad.

Kuwait is grappling with an upsurge in cases of the virus despite its vaccination campaign and severe restrictions, including a prolonged nighttime curfew. The country has recorded more than 277,800 infections and 1,590 deaths.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka has received its first batch of Russian Sputnik V vaccine following a delay in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines from India.

The 15,000 doses were transported early Tuesday. Sri Lanka has ordered 13 million doses of Sputnik and Channa Jayasuma, the minister of state for drug regulation, said he hopes Sri Lanka receives the full order in the future.

Sri Lanka is running out of 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. It gave the first injection to 925,242 people, but the Department of Health has around 350,000 doses, leaving people running out of the second dose required after a delay in getting vaccines ordered in India.

Meanwhile, coronavirus infections have spread rapidly. Sri Lanka has banned public gatherings and parties, schools are closed, and supermarkets and shopping complexes are limited to 25% of their customer capacity. It has counted 111,753 cases with 696 deaths.

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SEOUL, South Korea – Isolated North Korea is warning its people to prepare for a prolonged fight against the coronavirus, saying that expanding epidemics and confused vaccination schedules in other countries show vaccines are not the ultimate solution.

The column published by the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper of Pyongyang came amid questions about when and how the vaccines would arrive in North Korea.

The UN-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines around the world said in February that North Korea could receive 1.9 million doses of the vaccine in the first half of this year. However, COVAX has since warned of global shortages as the Serum Institute of India, which is licensed to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine, puts its supplies in domestic demand as the burden of virus cases in India increases.

The North has claimed a perfect record to prevent COVID-19, but outside experts questioned that claim, given its poor health infrastructure and a porous border it shares with China, its lifeline. economic.

The state newspaper took an apparent bullet on India’s anti-virus campaign without naming the country. He said that a certain nation which had “exported the vaccines it produced while publicly insisting that it considered the evil virus to be defeated,” was now experiencing an explosive surge.

“Cases from other countries provide further evidence that vaccines are not a complete solution,” the newspaper writes.

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OLYMPIA, Washington – More people will be allowed to attend indoor and outdoor spectator events and indoor religious services if there are designated COVID-19 vaccination sections, according to new guidelines issued by Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

The change that took effect Monday affects capacity at sporting events, graduations and other events for counties in the second and third phases of the state’s economic reopening plan.

A vaccination record or any other document proving the vaccination status will be necessary to access the vaccination sections.

Whereas previously there were only limited circumstances where spectator events were allowed to reach 50% of their capacity, under the new guidelines, outdoor facilities can add vaccinated sections until their full capacity – including vaccinated and unvaccinated sections – either 50% or 22,000 people, whichever is lower. There cannot be more than 9,000 unvaccinated people at the outdoor event.

For indoor facilities, vaccinated sections can also be added until their total capacity is a maximum of 50%, although the maximum number cannot exceed 2000 people, and the number of unvaccinated spectators at the event. interior varies depending on the size of the hall and the phase of the state’s economy. county opening plan.

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GENEVA – The World Health Organization is expected to decide this week to approve two Chinese vaccines for emergency use against COVID-19, a senior WHO official said.

Such approval would mark the first time that a Chinese vaccine would be granted a so-called emergency use list from the United Nations health agency, and would trigger a wider rollout of Chinese vaccines that are already in use in some countries other than China.

Mariangela Simao, deputy director-general for access to medicines, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, says some “final arrangements” remain to be made before crucial word from WHO technical advisory group comes on vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac.

“We expect we will have both decisions by the end of this week,” she said.

The WHO has said it expects a decision on the Sinopharm vaccine to come first, and Sinovac after.

“We know that some countries depend on this decision to proceed with their vaccination,” said Simao.

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NEW YORK – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the New York subway will start running overnight again and capacity restrictions for most types of business will end statewide in mid-May, as COVID-19 infection rates continued to decline.

Cuomo announced last week that subways would close from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. so trains and stations can be sanitized. The change was also intended to make it easier to remove the homeless from trains where many had spent the night.

The overnight shutdown was reduced from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in February.

Image: Relatives of a person who died of COVID-19 mourn outside a field hospital in Mumbai, India on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. COVID-19 infections and deaths are increasing at alarming speed in India without end in view to the crisis. (AP Photo / Rafiq Maqbool)


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