Sunday, April 11, 2021

March 3, 2021  WASHINGTON, D.C. - Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne called attention to rising cases of COVID-19 in the northern Amazon basin "that demands a swift response." "In Peru's Amazonian state of Loreto, every ICU bed is occupied by a COVID patient," she said, and Colombia's state of Amazonas is reporting the country's highest COVID rates.

Dr. Etienne noted that "in Brazil, the Amazonian state of Acre faces an emergency due to a deadly combination of COVID-19 infections, a dengue epidemic and flooding in several cities. Nearly 94% of ICUs are occupied and the health system risks collapsing as more and more patients require hospitalization. Other Brazilian states are also reporting high ICU occupancy rates, putting the country on alert."

But while the Americas continues to be the "epicenter" of the pandemic, Dr. Etienne said, it is behind in vaccination because most countries cannot access the doses they need through bilateral agreements with the manufacturers.

"Expanding equitable access to COVID vaccines in the Americas must be a global priority," she asserted.

"Wealthy countries are rolling out vaccines, while many nations have yet to receive a single dose," she continued. "This disparity harms our principles of solidarity. But more than that, it's a self-defeating strategy. As long as COVID-19 endures in one part of the world, the rest of the world can never be safe."

She pointed out that in the past week, "the Americas accounted for 55% of deaths reported worldwide."

In total 34,000 people died from COVID-19 in the Americas in the past week and 1.1. million were infected. Since the start of the pandemic, 51 million people have been infected regionally.

Other COVID-19 hot spots are in El Salvador, the indigenous province of Guna Yala in Panama, and Guatemala's northern municipalities, Dr. Etienne reported.

"The diversity of scenarios across the Americas reminds us that complacency can be deadly," Dr. Etienne said. "Without effective control measures, in just a couple of weeks, infection and hospitalization rates can spike drastically. We must continue to monitor infection rates closely and rely on proven public health measures when the virus surges."

She reported good news elsewhere in South America, where infections continue to drop. The U.S., Mexico and Canada report continued decline, while every country in Central America is seeing a drop in cases. In the Caribbean, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos are reporting declines in both COVID-19 cases and deaths, following enforcement of stricter public health measures.

In a welcome development, Colombia on Monday became the first regional country to receive vaccines through COVAX, the only global mechanism working to ensure equitable access to vaccines, regardless of countries incomes. In COVAX's "First Wave" shipment, 117,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine arrived in El Dorado International Airport in Bogota.

"The arrival of COVAX vaccines in our region is an historic milestone and the culmination of months of negotiations and a commitment to global solidarity," Dr. Etienne said. "These first doses mark the beginning of a new phase of our COVID response."

In the Americas, 36 countries are participating in COVAX. Ten are Advance Market Commitment (AMC) countries that will receive COVID-19 vaccines free of cost, while the rest are self-financing.

Dr. Etienne reported that COVAX told participating countries that a total of 28.7 million doses of vaccines would be delivered by May 2021.

She said some countries have already made necessary preparations, and PAHO is placing orders and preparing COVAX deliveries, with shipments likely to arrive in mid-March. But a few countries still need to approve COVAX contracts, ensure they have the proper regulations in place and make payments.

"We urge our Member States to make this a priority so they can receive these long-awaited doses," she said. As more doses are produced, we'll see several waves of shipments arriving in the region every month. In the short term, doses will remain limited. And we must use them wisely, prioritizing those most at risk, like our health workers, the elderly and people living with pre-existing conditions.

SXM Radio Online

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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