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Covid outbreak in North Korea likely 'getting worse': WHO

N Korea, which has one of the worst health systems in the world, has not vaccinated any of its roughly 25 million people

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Covid outbreak in North Korea likely 'getting worse': WHO
GNN Media: Representational Photo

The World Health Organization lamented Wednesday that it had no access to data about North Korea's Covid-19 outbreak, but assumed the crisis was deepening, contrary to Pyongyang's reports of "progress".

North Korea, which announced its first ever coronavirus cases on May 12, said last week its Covid outbreak had been brought under control, with state media reporting falling caseloads.

But WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan questioned that claim.

"We assume that situation is getting worse not better," he told reporters, acknowledging though that the secretive totalitarian state had provided only very limited information.

"Right now we are not in a position to make an adequate risk assessment of the situation on the ground," he said, pointing out that "it is very, very difficult to provide a proper analysis to the world when we don't have access to the necessary data."

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's lead on Covid-19, meanwhile said the country had registered around 3.7 million suspected Covid cases, although the official accounts only mention cases of "fever".

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported last Friday that caseloads had fallen for a seventh straight day, with just over 100,000 new "fever" cases in 24 hours, down from a high of 390,000 daily cases earlier in May.

KCNA also reported one more death Friday -- taking the official toll to 69 -- and claimed the fatality rate remains at 0.002 percent.

"There are many recoveries that have been reported, but there's limited information that we have from the country currently," Van Kerkhove said.

North Korea, which has one of the worst health systems in the world, has not vaccinated any of its roughly 25 million people, having rejected jabs offered by the WHO.

Ryan stressed the importance of reining in the outbreak in the impoverished country.

"We have offered assistance on multiple occasions. We have offered vaccines on three separate occasions. We continue to offer," he said.

He said the UN health agency was working with China and South Korea in a bid to get aid in, hailing "a very positive attitude towards trying to deal with this collective problem."

The WHO has repeatedly cautioned against allowing the virus that causes Covid to spread unchecked, among other things since it then is more likely to mutate and produce new, potentially more dangerous variants.

"We do not wish to see intense transmission of this disease in a mainly susceptible population, in a health system that has already weakened," Ryan said.

"This is not this is not good for the people of (North Korea). This is not good for the region. This is not good for the world."

SOURCE: AFP

Business

AJK govt presents Rs 163.7 billion budget

The development budget has been increased by Rs. 2 billion as compared to the previous financial year.

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AJK govt presents Rs 163.7 billion budget

Mirpur: The government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Saturday presented its maiden budget with an estimated outlay of Rs.163.7 billion for the next financial year 2022-23.

In the budget, an amount of Rs.135.2 billion has been allocated for recurring expenditure whereas a chunk of Rs. 28.5 billion has been allocated for development expenditure.

The development budget has been increased by Rs. 2 billion as compared to the previous financial year.

The budget proposes a 15 percent Disparity Reduction Allowance, an increase in the revised pay scale, and a 15 percent increase for pensioners.

The development budget includes Rs1.8 billion for public health, Rs 2.17 billion for education, and 12 billion for communication.

Presenting the budget for the financial year 2022-23 in the Azad Jammu Kashmir Legislative Assembly which met in the State metropolis on Saturday, the AJK Finance Minister Abdul Majid Khan said that the total expenditure for the next financial year has been estimated at Rs 135.20 billion.

He said that total development expenditure was estimated at Rs 28.50 billion.

Moreover, the minister said that an amount of 500 million has been proposed in terms of foreign aid.

Revised budget for the financial year 2021-22, amounting to 135.7 billion was also presented in the legislative assembly.

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World

Int’l Day in support of Victims of Torture being observed today

The day serves as a reminder to people that torture is a crime

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Int’l Day in support of Victims of Torture being observed today

Islamabad: Intentional Day in support of Victims of Torture is being observed today across the globe including Pakistan to remind people that human torture is not only unacceptable but it is also a crime.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is an international observance held annually on 26 June to speak out against the crime of torture and to honour and support the hundreds of thousands victims and survivors across the world.

On June 26, 1987, the convention against torture came into force. It was an important step in the process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging that torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should be universally illegal. In 1997 the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated June 26 each year as the international day in support of victims of torture.

The first International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was held on June 26, 1998. It was a day when the United Nations appealed to all governments and members of civil society to take action to defeat torture and torturers everywhere.

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Pakistan

President calls for stronger commitment to address challenge of drug abuse

"The day was celebrated across the globe to prevent drug abuse and raise awareness about the alarming threats it poses to society, especially the youth."

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President calls for stronger commitment to address challenge of drug abuse

Islamabad: President Dr Arif Alvi said the government must strengthen its commitment to address the challenges stemming from drug abuse and illicit trafficking and protect youth from the threat of illicit drugs.

The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed annually on June 26 to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving a world free of illicit drugs.

In a message on the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, he said the day was celebrated across the globe to prevent drug abuse and raise awareness about the alarming threats it poses to society, especially the youth.

The World Drug Report 2021, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), indicated that deaths attributed to drug-related disorders had almost doubled over the past decade. The youth, which makes up nearly 60% of Pakistan’s total population, remained especially vulnerable to drug abuse, he said adding students and parents must be sensitized through workshops and seminars with the help of the media, civil society, and educational institutions.

“To this end, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) can play an important role and it has been directed to implement a strict policy to counter drug abuse in higher educational institutions.”

He said, “Today, we also celebrate the tremendous efforts Pakistan has made in collaboration with international organizations to address drug-related challenges.”

International cooperation had helped limit the proliferation of new psychoactive substances used by younger generations, he added.

He commended the Ministry of Narcotics Control for the measures it had taken to combat the trafficking of illicit drugs in our society and mitigate the detrimental impacts of drug abuse. Pakistan had also achieved the status of a poppy-free state which was a reflection of the proactive approach taken by the Ministry of Narcotics Control/Anti-Narcotics Force, he mentioned.

“Only with cooperation and collective commitment will we achieve our vision of a world free of this menace. We are committed to making Pakistan a model country, in the region and beyond, in this fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking,” he concluded.

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