Thursday 20th May 2021
In Israel, yesterday four rockets were fired from Lebanon. Israel's military responded by firing weapons at "a number of targets in Lebanese territory”. The latest conflict between Palestine and Israel has been going on for 10 days. Yesterday, Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue his government's operation against Palestinian militants. His comments came shortly after a phone call with US President Joe Biden. Mr Biden told him to reduce the violence. Netanyahu did not comment on the call, but he said he appreciated Biden’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself.
In India, an anti-fungal drug used to treat an infection called mucormycosis, is in short supply. There are many emergency appeals on social media for the drug as mucormycosis cases rise. Doctors say the infection could be triggered by the use of steroids in severely-ill Covid patients. Mucormycosis is caused by exposure to mould which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure and rotten fruits and vegetables.
In Venezuela, Colombian the left-wing rebel leader known as Jesús Santrich has been killed. Santrich played a big role in peace negotiations but later joined a protest group and continued fighting. The group said he had been killed by Colombian armed forces but provided no evidence. Colombia's Defence Minister said he had died in a shootout between gangs but did not confirm his death.
In the United States, yesterday the governor of Texas signed a law banning abortion from as early as six weeks. This is before most women know they are pregnant. Governor Greg Abbott signed the legislation at a ceremony yesterday. It bans abortions after the detection of what anti-abortion campaigners call a foetal heartbeat. Medical authorities say that this heartbeat is misleading. The law also gives any individual the right to sue doctors who perform the abortion after the 6 week mark. Doctors and women's rights groups have criticised the law. The law will become official in September, if it is not stopped by a court. Texas is the latest and largest US state to pass abortion restrictions.
In Malawi, health authorities have destroyed almost 20,000 expired doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. They said this will assure the public that any vaccines they do get are safe. Malawi is the first African country to do this publicly. The World Health Organization initially told countries not to destroy expired doses. But they have now changed their advice. Vaccinations in Malawi has been low. Health workers hope the move will increase public confidence. Out of a population of about 18 million people, Malawi has recorded 34,232 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,000 deaths.
In Ghana, health authorities have sent drones to deliver boxes of Covid-19 vaccines. The drones will be taking vaccines to hard-to-reach areas in the country. Ghana is giving out 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca that were sent from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where vaccinations have been low. The use of drones is taking place in 43 districts. These will be given to people who have already had their first jab. The authorities have said they are hoping to get more vaccines.
In the UK, yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock said thousands of British people will receive a coronavirus booster jab. This will be the worlds first trial on booster jabs.
MH: "And while we do while we deliver on the first and the second doses we're also working on our booster program too and I just want to update you a little on that. This is all making sure that the vaccines stay ahead of the virus , his includes new vaccines specifically targeted at variants of concern. I'm delighted to be able to announce a new clinical trial backed by 19 million pounds of taxpayers money, to look at the use of current covert vaccines as booster vaccines and to see what combination and what part they can play in keeping us safe for the long term."
In Belgium, special police units are searching for a heavily armed soldier. The police say the soldier has far-right views, and they believe he is a serious threat. The suspect has been named as Jurgen Conings, a shooting instructor who has stolen weapons. He is said to have made threats in the past against Marc Van Ranst, who led Belgium's public health response to coronavirus. Mr Van Ranst and his family have been taken to a safe place.
And finally, China has released the first pictures taken by its Zhurong rover on Mars. This made China only the second nation - after America - to successfully put a rover on Mars.
Thant’s your world news in 7 minutes. Find transcripts or send us a message at send7.org. I’m Namitha Ragunath, and tomorrow you will be with Stephen Devincenzi. Have a great day.