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Taliban to announce framework for girls' education 'soon': UN official

A senior United Nations official Saturday said the Taliban would announce a framework to allows girls to attend school in Afghanistan "soon". The move comes after four weeks in which Afghan boys were allowed a secondary education.

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Taliban to announce framework for girls' education 'soon': UN official
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"The de facto minister of education told us that they are working on a framework, which they will announce soon, that will allow all girls to go to secondary school, and we are expecting that to happen very soon," UNICEF deputy executive director Omar Abdi said at the United Nations in New York on Friday.

For weeks now the Taliban have been saying that they will allow girls to return to school as soon as possible.

The Islamist group, notorious for its brutal and oppressive rule from 1996 to 2001, has faced international fury after effectively excluding women and girls from schools and work across the country, while incrementally stripping away Afghans' freedoms.

The Taliban permitted girls to attend primary school from the start, but have maintained that neither the girls nor their female teachers could return to secondary school yet.

Taliban officials have said that can happen only once the girls' security and strict gender segregation can be ensured under the group's restrictive interpretation of sharia law, adding that more time is needed to put this framework in place.

Abdi noted that, as he spoke, "millions of girls of secondary school age are missing out on education for the 27th consecutive day."

He said the UN has urged the Taliban authorities now governing Afghanistan "not to wait" on educating girls.

Abdi said he had visited Afghanistan the week before and met with Taliban authorities.

"In all my meetings, the education of girls was the first issue that I raised."

He said he had received "affirmations" of the Taliban's commitments to allow girls to attend primary school.

As for secondary school, he said they were allowed "only in five provinces," but added that the UN is pushing for the right to be implemented throughout the country.

SOURCE: AFP

Faisal Ali Ghumman

Mr. Ghumman is a seasoned journalist who has 19 years of diversified experience in print, electronic and digital media. He has worked with 92 News HD, Daily Pakistan Today, Daily The Business, Daily Dawn, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer as News Reporter, Feature Writer, Editor, Web Content Editor and Article Writer. Mr Ghumman has graduated from the Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and is currently enrolled in M.Phil in Mass Communication at the University of Punjab.

Health

New Covid variant triggers global alarm, stock markets tumble

Authorities around the world reacted with alarm on Friday to a new coronavirus variant found in South Africa, with the EU and Britain among those tightening border controls as researchers sought to establish out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant.

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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New Covid variant triggers global alarm, stock markets tumble

Hours after Britain banned flights from South Africa and neighbouring countries and asked travellers returning from there to quarantine, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned against hasty travel bans.

"It's really important that there are no knee-jerk responses here," said the WHO's emergencies director Mike Ryan, praising South Africa's public health institutions for picking up the new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.

"Because we've seen in the past, the minute that there is any mention of any kind of variation, then everyone is closing borders and restricting travel."

 The WHO said it would take weeks to determine how effective vaccines were against the variant. read more

South Africa's Health Minister Joe Phaahla called the travel restrictions "unjustified", though he also said preliminary studies suggested the new variant may be more transmissible.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU also aimed to halt air travel from the region. Several other countries including India, Japan and Israel toughened curbs. read more

"It is now important that all of us in Europe act very swiftly, decisively and united," von der Leyen said. "All air travel to these countries should be suspended until we have a clearer understanding about the danger posed by this new variant."

In Washington, top U.S. infectious disease official Anthony Fauci said no decision had been made on a possible U.S. travel ban. There was no indication that the variant was in the United States, and it was unclear whether it was resistant to current vaccines, he told CNN. read more

The news nonetheless pummelled global stocks and oil, which plunged 10%, on fears that new restrictions would hit the travel industry and already shaky economies across southern Africa. read more

'MOST SIGNIFICANT VARIANT'

The variant has a spike protein that is dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that vaccines are based on, the UK Health Security Agency said, raising fears about how current vaccines will fare.

"As scientists have described, (this is) the most significant variant they've encountered to date," British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News.

In Geneva the WHO - whose experts on Friday discussed the risks that the variant, called B.1.1.529, presents - warned against travel curbs for now. read more

It would take several weeks to determine the variant's transmissibility and the effectiveness of vaccines, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said, noting that 100 sequences of it had been reported so far.

British health minister Sajid Javid said the sequence of the variant was first uploaded by Hong Kong from someone travelling from South Africa.

"It is highly likely that it has now spread to other countries," Javid told lawmakers.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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Pakistan

Pakistan reports 411 new coronavirus infections, 7 deaths in 24 hours

As per National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) stats, the country logged seven fatalities from coronavirus in a single day

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Pakistan reports 411 new coronavirus infections, 7 deaths in 24 hours

Islamabad: Amid a steady decline in Covid-19 infections, Pakistan's coronavirus positivity ratio further fell to 0.92% with 350 new cases. 

Around 350 fresh coronavirus cases emerged while 7 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 28,704.

According to the latest figures issued by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 350 persons were tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

The total number of cases has reached 1,283,886.

As many as 1,241,589 patients have recovered from the disease.

 

Punjab

The number of patients swelled to 442,876 in the province with 13,015 causalities.

 

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 475,097 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,620.

 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 179,888 in the province with 5,830 casualties.

 

Balochistan

There are 33,471 confirmed cases while 359 patients have died from the infection so far.

 

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 34,542 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 742. On the other hand, there are 10,411 cases in GB with 186 coronavirus deaths.

 

Islamabad

There are 107,601 cases in the capital city while 952 people have lost their lives.

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Health

'Variant of concern': WHO names new Covid variant as Omicron

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern," saying it may spread more quickly than other forms.

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'Variant of concern': WHO names new Covid variant as Omicron

Preliminary evidence suggested there is an increased risk of reinfection and there had been a "detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology," it said in a statement after a closed meeting of independent experts who reviewed the data.

Infections in South Africa had risen steeply in recent weeks, coinciding with detection of the variant now designated as omicron, WHO said.

"This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other (variants of concern), it said.

Omicron is the fifth variant to carry such a designation.
"This variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage," the WHO said.

Current PCR tests continue to successfully detect the variant, it said.

Earlier, the WHO cautioned countries against hastily imposing travel restrictions linked to the variant of COVID-19, saying they should take a "risk-based and scientific approach".

Global authorities reacted with alarm to the new variant detected in South Africa, with the EU and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists sought to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant. L1N2SH089

"At this point, implementing travel measures is being cautioned against," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. "The WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk-based and scientific approach when implementing travel measures."

It would take several weeks to determine the variant's transmissibility and the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics against it, he said, noting that 100 sequences of the variant have been reported so far.

People should continue to wear masks whenever possible, avoid large gatherings, ventilate rooms and maintain hand hygiene, Lindmeier added.

Mike Ryan, WHO's emergency director, praised South African public health institutions for picking up the signal of the new variant.

But he warned that while some countries had systems in place to do this, the situation elsewhere was often unclear.

"So it's really important that there are no knee-jerk responses here. Especially with relation to South Africa," he said. "Because we've seen in the past, the minute that there is any mention of any kind of variation, then everyone is closing borders and restricting travel."

SOURCE: REUTERS

 

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