Sunday, April 11, 2021

April 6, 2021  Coronavirus figures released by health authorities across South America on Monday show a number of countries grappling with a spike in infections and deaths. Uruguay and Paraguay registered record numbers of daily deaths, while the total number of Covid cases surpassed the 13-million mark in Brazil. The surge has been attributed to the spread of the Brazil variant.

The variant is thought to be more than twice as transmissible as the original. What is the Brazil variant?

Brazilian public health institute Fiocruz says it has detected 92 variants of coronavirus in the country. Experts say that the development of new variants is not surprising: all viruses mutate as they make copies of themselves to spread.

The P.1, or Brazil, variant has become a cause for concern is because it is thought to be much more contagious than the original strain.

  • What is the Brazil variant and do vaccines work against it?
  • Covid map: Where are cases the highest?
  • Which countries are on the UK's travel ban list?

P.1 was first detected in travellers to Japan from the city of Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon, and sequenced in early January.

It has mutations on the spike protein, that part of the virus which attaches to human cells, and it is these mutations which are thought to make it more transmissible.

The variant is thought to have emerged in Amazonas state in November 2020, spreading quickly in the state capital Manaus, where it accounted for 73% of cases by January 2021, according to figures analysed by researchers in Brazil.

Preliminary data suggested it could be up to twice as infectious as the original strain, while more recent research puts that figure even higher, at 2.5 times as transmissible.

How widespread is it?

As genetic sequencing is not widespread throughout the region, it is hard to determine how widely the variant has spread. However, the risk has always been deemed high, as Brazil shares borders with 10 countries.

On 25 March, Peru's health minister said that 40% of cases in the capital, Lima, were caused by the Brazil variant, and on Monday he said that cases had been detected "almost everywhere in Peru".

Cases of the variant have also been confirmed in Uruguay and Paraguay, both of which registered record numbers of daily deaths on Monday.

In Paraguay, health officials said that half of the cases on the border with Brazil were caused by the variant.

Bolivia has also registered cases of the variant and last week ordered the closure of its border with Brazil for at least a week, with a lockdown ordered for the border regions where the cases occurred.

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro has also blamed a recent spike in cases and deaths on the spread of the Brazil variant.

In Argentina, health officials have also confirmed the presence of the variant. However, doctors said on Monday that genome sequencing suggested that President Alberto Fernández, who tested positive for Covid on Saturday, did not contract one of the new variants.

And while vaccination is going ahead speedily in Chile and Uruguay, it has been slow in many other countries of the region.

The director of the Pan-American Health Organization, Carissa Etienne, has warned that the situation constitutes "an active public health emergency".

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Entertainment

April 10, 2021  BERLIN (AP) — The Australian photographer and actress June Newton — also known under her pseudonym Alice Springs — has died at 97, the Helmut Newton Foundation said Saturday in Berlin. Newton, who was also the wife of the late photographer Helmut Newton, died Friday in her home in Monte Carlo. The cause of death was not given. “We mourn the loss of an outstanding person and internationally recognized photographer,” the foundation wrote on its website. Newton, who was born June Browne in Melbourne, Australia in 1923, trained as an actor and often performed under her stage name June Brunell, the foundation said.

April 9, 2021  -Melissa McCarthy and her husband, filmmaker Ben Falcone, have managed to put out not one but two movies during this global pandemic. It prompts two questions: What did we do to deserve them? And how do we stop it? McCarthy enlists — and immediately wastes — the services of Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer for the superhero buddy comedy “Thunder Force,” a meandering nothing-burger of a film. It’s the fifth team-up between McCarthy and Falcone — they previously did “The Boss,” “Tammy,” “Life of the Party” and “Superintelligence.” It’s clear they’ve gotten progressively worse and McCarthy’s welcome manic, anarchic energy is no longer disarming.

April 10, 2021  LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Prince Charles offered a heartfelt tribute to his “dear Papa” on Saturday as Buckingham Palace offered the broad outlines of a royal funeral that will be attended by the family and broadcast to the world. As Queen Elizabeth II and other relatives mourned, Charles offered a personal video message saying the royal family was “deeply grateful” for the outpouring of support they’ve received following the death Friday of his 99-year-old father, Prince Philip. The heir to the throne said he was touched by the number of people around the world who have shared his family’s loss and sorrow.

April 9, 2021  -The St. George’s and Jamaica College Old Boys Associations of Florida will host their first-ever friendly sound clash on Saturday, April 10. The True Blue Sound Clash of 2021 is replacing the traditional True Blue weekend soccer event held every year. This year marks the 17th year for the South Florida event though it will be held in a different format. The True Blue Sound Clash will be hosted online by VP Records and broadcast on their Facebook page (facebook.com/vprecords/) & YouTube Channel (youtube.com/vprecords) starting at 7:00 p.m.

Business News

April 11, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — Two big South Korean electric vehicle battery makers have settled a long-running trade dispute that will allow one of them to move ahead with plans to make batteries in Georgia, a person briefed on the matter says. LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation reached the settlement, ending the need for President Joe Biden to intervene in the dispute, the person said Saturday. The person asked not to be identified because the companies have not yet announced the settlement. No details were available. The U.S. International Trade Commission decided in February that SK stole 22 trade secrets from LG Energy, and that SK should be barred from importing, making or selling batteries in the United States for 10 years.

April 10, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — Alibaba Group, the world’s biggest e-commerce company, was fined 18.3 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) by Chinese regulators on Saturday for anti-competitive tactics, as the ruling Communist Party tightens control over fast-growing tech industries. Party leaders worry about the dominance of China’s biggest internet companies, which are expanding into finance, health services and other sensitive areas. The party says anti-monopoly enforcement, especially in tech, is a priority this year. Alibaba was fined for “abusing its dominant position” to limit competition by retailers that use its platforms and hindering “free circulation” of goods, the State Administration for Market Regulation announced. It said the fine was equal to 4% of its total 2019 sales of 455.712 billion yuan ($69.5 billion).

April 11, 2021  MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and e-commerce mogul Marc Lore signed a letter of intent Saturday to buy the Timberwolves and keep the NBA team in Minnesota, owner Glen Taylor said. The agreement, which also includes the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, opens a 30-day window for negotiations to be finalized. If accountants and attorneys for both sides agree, the deal would then need to be approved by the league. The Athletic first reported the $1.5 billion sale.

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