More than half of the people in Europe will be infected with the Omicron variant of COVID19 within the next 8 weeks, according to the World Health Organization. Omicron is responsible for the fastest rise in new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. Before December global recorded infections of COVID19 never passed one million per day, however they have been almost 3 million per day for the last few days. Despite the dramatic increase in cases, there has not been an increase in deaths connected to COVID19. Yesterday, Dr Hans Kluge, head of the WHO in Europe, said that although vaccines are not stopping people from being infected with omicron, they do greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death...
“At this rate the institute for health metrics and evaluation forecasts that more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next 6 to 8 weeks. Allow me to reiterate that the currently approved vaccines do continue to provide good protection against severe desease and death including for omicron but because of the unprecedented scale of transmission we are now seeing rising COVID19 hospitalizations...”
In Italy Silvio Berlusconi has said that he will take his Forza Italia party out of the governing coalition if Prime Minister Mario Draghi is elected president this month. Berlusconi, who has been Prime Minister 3 times, is also a candidate for president. The election of the president is not a public vote - it is a vote between all senators, deputies and regional leaders.
In Belgium, David Sassoli, the President of the European parliament, has died. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said yesterday that Sassoli was a great European and Italian.
In Greece, the Parthenon, a temple from ancient Athens, has received an original piece of marble from a museum in Italy. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that now was the time for the United Kingdom to return statues taken from the Parthenon over 200 years ago...
!It paves the way also for the British museum to enter into serious discussions with the Greek authorities in order to find a solution that will be mutually acceptable...”
Russia has said that there is no reason to fear an escalation of violence with Ukraine. Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov and US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman have met in Switzerland to discuss the Russian build up of soldiers on its border with Ukraine. Ryabkov said that Russia wants a ban on the expansion of NATO. Sherman said that NATO will always be open to new members and that NATO is only for defence.
Kazakhstan’s president Kassym Tokayev has said that soldiers from Russia and other CSTO countries will start to leave Kazakhstan in the next two days. 164 people are reported to have died in protests in Kazakhstan that have now stopped.
Afghanistan will receive an extra $208 million dollars in aid from the United States. The US has asked the Taliban to allow humanitarian workers to continue their work, as the United Nations says that more than half of Afghanistan’s population doesn’t have enough food.
Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has tested positive for coronavirus again. Obrador was first infected with COVID one year ago, and yesterday said that he had only mild symptoms.
Venezuela’s opposition has defeated a government candidate to become governor of the state of Barinas. This is a rare win for candidates opposed to President Nicolas Maduro, who has been accused of changing Venezuela from a democracy to an authoritarian state.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has spoken by telephone with US president Joe Biden. President Biden spoke about his concern over air strikes being used in the war between the Ethiopian government and the government of the Tigray region. An airstrike in a camp for displaced people killed 56 people, according to Reuters News Agency. There were also reports yesterday of 17 people being killed by a drone attack on a flour mill.
A Ugandan writer has been charged over tweets critical of President Yoweri Museveni. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was charged with “offensive communication”. Rukirabahaija has been in detention since the 18th of December and his lawyer has said that he has been tortured.
And Tanzanian rat Magawa has died, aged 8. Magawa was famous for detecting mines and unexploded bombs, and was awarded a gold medel in 2020 for detecting land mines in Cambodia.
That’s your simple English world news for today. If you enjoy this podcast please leave a review by going to ratethispodcast.com/send7 . In your internet browser go to ratethispodcast.com/send7 I’m Stephen Devincenzi. Tomorrow you will be with Juliet Martin. Have a great day.