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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines should be halted for over-60s: EMA official
13 June 2021, 2:01 PM

Countries should avoid giving the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to people over 60, the head of the EU drug regulator’s COVID-19 task force was quoted on Sunday as saying, amid fears over rare blood clotting and as more vaccines become available.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) considers the AstraZeneca shot safe for all age groups. However several European Union (EU) member states have stopped administering it to people below a certain age, usually ranging from 50 to 65, restricting its use to the older population, due to the rare cases of blood clotting, mainly among young people.

“In a pandemic context, our position was and is that the risk-benefit ratio remains favourable for all age groups,” COVID-19 task force chief Marco Cavaleri told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

However, as the number of COVID-19 cases is falling and taking into account that the younger population is less exposed to COVID-19 related risks, Cavaleri said it would be better to use COVID-19 vaccines based on messenger RNA (mRNA)technology, such as Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Asked whether health authorities should avoid giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged over 60, Cavaleri said: “Yes, and many countries, such as France and Germany, are considering it in the light of greater availability of mRNA vaccines.”

The Italian government said on Friday it would restrict the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged over 60, after a teenager who had received the shot died from a rare form of blood clotting.

Like many European countries, Italy briefly halted AstraZeneca inoculations in March over concerns about the rare blood clotting problems.

It resumed them the following month with the recommendation that the product is “preferably” used for people over the age of60 after the EMA said its benefits outweighed any risks.

Pope prays for people in war-torn Tigray, appeals for end to child labour
13 June 2021, 1:44 PM

Pope Francis on Sunday offered his prayers for the people of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, hit by hunger and famine, and appealed for an end to the child labour in the world.

“I am particularly close to the people of the Tigray region of Ethiopia, which is suffering from a serious humanitarian crisis that is exposing the poorest to famine,” Francis said after his weekly Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square.

“Today there is famine, today there is hunger there,” he said.

Fighting since November between Ethiopia’s government and the region’s ousted ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has displaced more than 2 million people. The conflict broke out just before the main harvest, with each side blaming the other.

More than 350,000 of Tigray’s nearly 6 million people are living in famine conditions, according to an analysis by United Nations agencies and global aid groups first reported by Reuters on Thursday (June 10), while nearly 2 million others are one step away from such dire deprivation, they said.

After the prayer, the pontiff also appealed to global leaders to put an end to child labour, a “tragedy” as the Pope said that has risen for the first time in 20 years, the United Nations said on Thursday, with one in 10 children in work worldwide and millions more at risk due to COVID-19.

“We cannot close our eyes to the exploitation of children, deprived of the right to play, to study, and to dream,” Francis told the faithful gathered in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The number of child labourers has increased to 160 million from 152 million in 2016, with the greatest rise in Africa due to population growth, crises, and poverty, said the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The U.N. has made 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, saying urgent action is needed to meet a goal of ending the practice by 2025 and said that child labourers may now be working longer hours or under worse conditions due to pandemic-related economic shocks and school closures, and many more may be forced into the worst forms of child labour.

The report highlighted an increase in the number of children aged 5 to 11 years in child labour, who now account for just over half of the total global figure, as well as a rise in those in hazardous work that is likely to harm their health or safety.

North West to re-advertise road construction tender following company liquidation
13 June 2021, 1:33 PM

The North West provincial department of Public Works and Roads, says it is re-advertising a tender for the construction of a 15 KM road in Lokaleng village in Mahikeng.

Departmental Spokesperson, Matshube Mfoloe, says R52 million was initially set aside by government for the road but that the initial contractor was liquidated.

“We are now going to advertise. That project is going to be a 15km project for the upgrading of that road from gravel to tar. It is that road from Lokaleng that includes villages of Mogosane and Tlapeng,” says Mfoloe.

Sekhukhune FC’s promotion to DSTV Premiership League expected to boost tourism
13 June 2021, 1:01 PM

Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha has praised Sekhukhune United Football Club (Sekhukhune FC ) for gaining automatic promotion to the DSTV Premiership League.

Sekhukhune FC secured automatic promotion to the Premiership for the next season following a Pretoria High Court judgement on Saturday.

The Court confirmed that the two South African Football Association (SAFA) Arbitration Tribunal awards impacted the final log standings by awarding Sekhukhune three points.

Premier Mathabatha’s Spokesperson, Willy Mosoma, says the promotion of the Sekhukhune United FC will enhance tourism and will be an economic spinoff.

“On behalf of the Limpopo provincial government, this is an opportune moment to congratulate Sekhukhune United for their promotion to the DSTV PSL the promotion of Sekhukhune FC will go a long way in enhancing sports tourism economic spinoff and social cohesion for the province. Premier Mathabatha is urging young people to emulate the good example of Sekhukhune United by making sure that they go for their goals and achieve more,” says Mosoma.

More Northern Cape schools temporarily closed due to COVID-19 infections
13 June 2021, 12:32 PM

Another five Northern Cape schools have temporarily closed due to COVID-19 infections. The provincial department of education says 29 schools had to close for disinfection and to allow for isolation of those who tested positive since the beginning of June.

“We recorded 103 new positive cases for the past week, which includes 69 learners, 25 educators and 9 support staff at schools,” says provincial education department Spokesperson, Geoffrey Van Der Merwe.

Van Der Merwe is pleading with parents to cooperate with schools as they implement recovery plans.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact enormously on valuable learning and teaching time in terms of curriculum coverage across all grades. We plead with parents to provide schools with the necessary cooperation as they implement their curriculum recovery plans. It is very important that all learners remain on par with their schoolwork, whilst parents provide them with the necessary support at home,” adds Van Der Merwe.

 

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