Перевізник пояснював, що продаж е-квитків на поїзди та роботу сервісів онлайн-підтримки й гарячої лінії «Укрзалізниці» призупиняли через «невідкладні технічні роботи»
Meteorologists warn the extreme heat gripping India and Pakistan is likely to have many cascading effects on human health, ecosystems, agriculture, water, energy, and the economy.
For the past few days, hundreds of millions of people have been sweltering under temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius in widespread areas of India and Pakistan. The intense heat is predicted to continue until May 2 and then subside.
The World Meteorological Organization says both India and Pakistan regularly experience excessively high temperatures in the pre-monsoon period, especially in May. While heatwaves do occur in April, it says they are less common.
WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said national meteorological and hydrological departments in both countries are implementing measures that have been successful in saving lives in the past few years.
“A lot of work has been taken on heat health action plans specifically and in particular to protect the most vulnerable, and the most vulnerable in urban areas where the impact of the heat tends to be magnified,” she said. “So, we do hope that mortality from this ongoing event will be limited.”
Nullis said large swaths of Pakistan are experiencing daytime temperatures between five and eight degrees Celsius above normal for this time of year. She said the extreme heat will have a punishing impact on Pakistan’s mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“The Pakistan Meteorological Department is warning that the unusual heat has the risk of speeding up the melting of snow and ice, and this might trigger what we call glacial lake outbursts, which lead to flash floods,” she said. “These are, obviously, very deadly hazards.”
Meteorologists say it is premature to attribute the extreme heat in India and Pakistan solely to climate change. However, they agree it is consistent with what is expected in a changing climate.
In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns heat waves and humid heat stress will be more intense and frequent in South Asia this century.
Satellites have detected methane emissions from belching cows at a California feedlot, marking the first time emissions from livestock – a major component of agricultural methane – could be measured from space.
Environmental data firm GHGSat this month analyzed data from its satellites and pinpointed the methane source from a feedlot in the agricultural Joaquin Valley near Bakersfield, California in February.
This is significant, according to GHGSat, because agricultural methane emissions are hard to measure, and accurate measurement is needed to set enforceable reduction targets for the beef-production industry.
GHGSat said the amount of methane it detected from that single feedlot would result in 5,116 tons of methane emissions if sustained for a year. If that methane were captured, it could power over 15,000 homes, it said.
Agriculture contributes 9.6% to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and about 36% of methane emissions, mostly from livestock.
The Biden administration late last year announced its plan to crack down on methane emissions from the U.S. economy.
The EPA unveiled its first rules aimed at reducing methane from existing oil and gas sources that require companies to detect and repair methane leaks. The Agriculture Department rolled out a voluntary incentive program for farmers.
At last year’s climate talks, more than 100 countries pledged to cut methane emissions by 30% and to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. Much of this reduction would need to come from the livestock industry, according to the U.N. food agency, which said that livestock accounts for 44% of man-made methane emissions.
Several methods to reduce livestock methane emissions are being tested, including adding seaweed to cattle diets.
GHGSat provides its data to the United Nations’ International Methane Emissions Observatory program.
Beijing residents will need clear COVID tests to enter public spaces, officials said Saturday, announcing fresh virus controls at the start of a Labor Day holiday muted by creeping infections in the capital.
The five-day break is typically one of China’s busiest travel periods, but the country’s worst COVID resurgence since early in the pandemic is expected to keep people home.
Faced with the highly transmissible omicron variant, Chinese officials have doubled down on their zero-COVID policy, quashing virus clusters through mass testing and lockdowns.
Despite mounting economic costs and public frustration, the capital city announced it would further restrict access to public spaces after the holiday period.
Starting May 5, a negative COVID test taken within the past week will be needed to enter “all kinds of public areas and to take public transport,” according to a notice on the city’s official WeChat page.
For activities such as sporting events and group travel, participants will also need to show a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours, along with proof of “full vaccination,” according to the new rules.
China reported more than 10,700 domestic COVID cases on Saturday, with most in economic engine Shanghai.
The eastern metropolis has been sealed off for around a month after becoming the epicenter of the latest outbreak.
Cases are trending downwards, yet frustration and anger is boiling in the city of 25 million where many have been ordered to stay at home for several weeks.
Shanghai officials said on Saturday that its new cases were all found among quarantined or restricted groups — signaling that community infections could be slowing.
They added that hundreds of companies on a “whitelist” have resumed work, with around 1,000 firms allowed to restart operations too, state media said.
In Beijing, cases nudged up to 54, according to the National Health Commission.
As the long holiday started, consumers in the capital were asked to show proof of negative COVID tests — from within 48 hours — to enter public areas such as malls, shops and scenic spots.
The city will make COVID testing free for residents starting Tuesday, authorities said.
Chris Mei has been stuck in his Shanghai flat for a month save for PCR testing and occasional volunteer work delivering food to neighbors. That will change in a couple of days when he boards his flight for a long-scheduled trip home to Portland, Oregon.
He uses Zoom to do factory inspections for his 2-year-old import-export firm, Shanghai Fanyi Industry, but he can’t complete all the orders for clients overseas. He’s locked down like most of the 26 million people in the city, along with some of the factories where he normally sources goods, such as artificial plants and solar lights.
“In terms of how’s business, it’s definitely affected us,” Mei said. “Clients abroad always have deadlines, especially for some of our products.” He continued, “For example, for a shipment that recently went out, we had a portion of the order canceled due to the fact that the factory, they were on lockdown as well, so we basically could only produce what they could, and then the remaining part of the order basically passed the client’s deadline in South America.”
Leaving a city in lockdown has become an expensive, multistep process. Mei, a U.S. citizen, applied for permission to leave Shanghai by getting a pass from his neighborhood committee. He then found a driver with special permission to take him to the airport during lockdown – for about six times the usual price of that ride.
Shanghai’s residents have been ordered to stay home since early April in response to a spike in COVID-19 infections. Last week, authorities began easing restrictions in parts of the city to restore economic activity.
Mei’s case is typical, analysts who follow China say. Large numbers of foreign businesspeople in China are planning on leaving the country, for now or for good. The lockdowns have hammered an economy already hobbled by the 4-year-old Sino-U.S. trade dispute, capital outflows and last year’s crackdown on tech giants.
On March 18, That’s Shanghai, a local magazine, reported the results of an online survey saying 85% of foreigners in the city would “rethink their future in China” because of the lockdowns. The survey found that 48% of respondents plan to leave China over the next year and that 37% would wait in case anti-pandemic measures improve.
Risk seems to be increasing
Shipments through seaports in Shanghai and the Chinese tech hub Shenzhen, which locked down in March, have slowed because of a lack of workers and a shortage of truckers who are allowed to move imports and exports around the country.
Larger businesses can afford to wait in case lockdowns ease and China resumes its robust economic growth, said Doug Barry, communications vice president with the U.S.-China Business Council, a 265-member advocacy group in Washington.
Smaller companies are having more trouble because they depend on China’s advanced contract manufacturing ecosystem and cannot easily relocate, Barry said. He said some businesses have closed temporarily because so many workers can’t report to their jobs.
Others have spent money to help feed workers and even let them stay overnight at workplaces so they can report to their jobs the next day.
Overseas-based company leaders are staying away from their China projects because of quarantine rules, he said.
“Business in some cases has come to a complete stop,” Barry said. “The risk seems to be increasing, and the unknowns are also increasing and you’re looking at bottom lines and the future of things, and you’re wondering what to do.”
While foreign businesspeople are thinking of leaving, the significance of China to outside companies can be seen in the numbers. Foreign businesses invested $173.5 billion in China last year, up from $163 billion in 2020 and $140 billion a year earlier, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s latest report.
Just more than 1 million foreign companies were registered in China at the end of 2020.
Companies normally relocate in China for contract manufacturing – which is seen as professional yet inexpensive – or to sell cars, coffee, phones and fashion apparel to the massive consumer market.
Incentives to stay
Mei will be back in Shanghai after a couple of months at home. By then, he expects there will be a “more solid” response to COVID-19 with clarity about people’s mobility.
Some people he knows have been called back to work in May, he said.
William Frazier, a 58-year-old U.S.-born owner of a business advisory firm in Shanghai, has lived in the city continuously since 2002. He has no plans to leave the city even though he’s been locked down since March 16. Frazier has a spacious flat in a high-end compound, making life tolerable as he works though emails, phone and video conferences. The economic chaos has caused more clients to call him for information.
“No real significant impact, I would say, not for me,” Frazier said. “I don’t see hiccups. I see opportunities.”
Local officials in China want foreign investors to stay in the country, the U.S.-China Business Council has found. They are willing to meet and hear out American businesspeople, Barry said, though no government body has offered them any economic stimulus.
Sticking around will keep companies competitive after China returns to normal, he said.
If lockdowns in Shanghai end in May, more businesspeople are likely to stay in the city, said Yan Liang, professor and chair of economics at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Local and central government policymakers have the economic aftershocks of COVID-19 “on their radar,” she said.
“It’s just so important to be able to have a foothold in a large market like this,” Liang said. “And I think some of the sentiments (are) also that even though there are some maybe temporary or maybe more permanent slowdowns, the Chinese economy is still a really bright spot when you compare with other countries in the world.”
That makes the lure of the largest market in the world worth waiting for, for businesses that can afford to hold out until cities open again.
A San Francisco area-based nonprofit is working to send easily operated, simply maintained and low-cost incubators to Ukraine.
After learning that 260,000 women in Ukraine are pregnant, with many now giving birth in bomb shelters or without access to modern medical care, Embrace Global is working to send 3,000 of its incubators to war ravaged areas of the country.
Co-founder and CEO Jane Chen launched the initiative at the recent TED 2022 conference in Vancouver. The company was already sending 200 incubators with UNICEF.
While traditional incubators require continuous electricity, these devices, which look like small sleeping bags, can be charged like a cellphone with electricity or a heater that works off hot water. The charge lasts up to eight hours.
“The core technology is a pouch of a waxlike substance called a phase change material,” Chen said. “And so this, once melted, can maintain the exact same temperature of 98 degrees, human body temperature, for up to eight hours at a stretch, and it can be reheated thousands of times.”
Far less expensive
Each device costs $300 to $400, substantially cheaper than the $20,000 cost of a basic traditional incubator, which also requires continuous electricity and trained personnel. The low-cost incubators require virtually no training and are designed to be very simple to use.
Chen developed the device while attending Stanford University and after then spending four years in India, where the devices have been distributed to 12 states. She said the war in Ukraine was creating a new use for the incubators.
“This is a really ideal solution, actually, for a humanitarian crisis like this, because of the fact that the incubator is portable, and it works without stable electricity,” she said. “And on top of that, you don’t need a trained caregiver. The training for this is extremely simple. It was made to be very intuitive to you. So it can be used in those types of situations.”
This is the first time Chen and her organization have sent their incubators to Ukraine.
Besides India, the incubators are also being distributed through parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and Nepal.
Dr. Geeta Arora, a New York City internist, said she loved the fact that the incubators can be used so easily in the developing world.
“My family comes from a very poor part of India,” Arora said. “And there’s nothing available. And most babies … you have to wrap them or strap them to another body to try to keep them warm. But with this, you know exactly what temperature the baby’s going to be.”
For Chen and Embrace Global, the challenge around the world is getting people on the ground to make sure the incubators are getting to the right places and people. This was recently the case in Zambia.
A a nurse at a government facility “reached out to us and was just really passionate,” Chen said. “She was seeing the number of babies that were dying because of a lack of incubators. And so we sent incubators to her. She, as the champion, really brought it to the attention of all of the hospital staff. And with that, we were able to expand it to other hospitals in the area.”
In a little over a decade, Chen estimated, Embrace Global’s incubator has already saved the lives of 350,000 babies around the world. Her organization’s goal is to save a million and then have the product available to everybody who needs it.
A Colorado prison inmate who worked at a poultry farm culling infected birds has become the first person in the U.S. to test positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed the case Thursday.
H5N1 has been spreading rapidly among birds in the U.S. since February but does not appear to pose a significant threat to people because humans need to be in close contact with infected birds.
The virus has been seen among commercial birds in 29 states and among wild birds in 34 states.
More than 35 million chickens and turkeys have been destroyed in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
The infected man, who is younger than 40, reported fatigue for several days and made a full recovery.
“The inmate was part of a prison work crew composed of inmates nearing release, which had been working at the farm before a case of bird flu was confirmed there on April 19,” said Lisa Wiley, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections.
In December 2021, a British man with 20 pet ducks was infected with the virus.
Google has expanded options for keeping personal information private from online searches.
The company said Friday it will let people request that more types of content such as personal contact information like phone numbers, email and physical addresses be removed from search results.
The new policy also allows the removal of other information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials.
The company said in a statement that open access to information is vital, “but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private.”
“Privacy and online safety go hand in hand. And when you’re using the internet, it’s important to have control over how your sensitive, personally identifiable information can be found,” it said.
Google Search earlier had permitted people to request that highly personal content that could cause direct harm be removed. That includes information removed due to doxxing and personal details like bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for fraud.
But information increasing pops up in unexpected places and is used in new ways, so policies need to evolve, the company said.
Having personal contact information openly available online also can pose a threat and Google said it had received requests for the option to remove that content, too.
It said that when it receives such requests it will study all the content on the web page to avoid limiting availability of useful information or of content on the public record on government or other official websites.
“It’s important to remember that removing content from Google Search won’t remove it from the internet, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly, if you’re comfortable doing so,” it said.
China has suspended cross-border freight train services with North Korea following consultations after COVID-19 infections in its border city of Dandong, the foreign ministry said Friday.
The suspension came within four months after North Korea eased border lockdowns enforced early in 2020 against the coronavirus, measures global aid groups have blamed for its worsening economic woes and risks to food supplies for millions.
“Due to the COVID situation in Dandong, after friendly consultation between both sides, China has decided to suspend freight services from Dandong to Sinuiju,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said authorities in Dandong had acted on a request from North Korea, citing unidentified sources.
Authorities in Seoul, the capital of neighboring South Korea, said they were keeping watch on the situation.
The Chinese city of Dandong has been fighting a COVID-19 outbreak since late April, reporting 220 infections from April 24-27.
By Wednesday, authorities had locked down 77 residential compounds, while people elsewhere were asked to keep to designated areas.
North Korea has not officially reported any COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began but adopted border curbs among its anti-virus measures.
After years of preparation and testing, a new NASA spacecraft is almost ready for its mission to an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists hope the journey will uncover clues into the origins of Earth. For VOA, Villafañe visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to see the spacecraft and speak with mission investigators.
South Korea said Friday it will lift its outdoor mask mandate next week in response to a steady drop in COVID-19 cases after an omicron-fueled surge.
The announcement comes after Seoul dropped almost all other social-distancing measures earlier this month, ending two years of strict requirements that put a massive strain on the country’s small businesses.
From Monday, residents will no longer be required to wear face masks outdoors unless attending an event with more than 50 participants, health authorities said.
“As social-distancing measures are lifted and the mask mandate is being adjusted, people are increasingly returning to their normal lives,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), told reporters.
“This is all thanks to the patience and cooperation of the people over a long period of time,” Jeong added.
South Korea’s incoming administration, headed by conservative president-elect Yoon Suk-y, on Friday criticized the decision to end the mask mandate as “premature,” questioning if it had been based solely on “virus prevention measures.”
Ahn Cheol-soo, chief of Yoon’s transition team, had previously said the new government planned to make a decision on the mandate in May.
South Korea reported 50,568 new coronavirus cases Friday, well down from the peak of more than 620,000 a day in mid-March.
The KDCA’s Jeong said there had been a “steady decrease” in COVID-19 cases for the past six weeks.
“The number of new critically ill patients is also decreasing,” she said, adding hospitals had enough beds to treat new inpatients.
More than 86% of South Korea’s 51 million people have been fully vaccinated, with the majority also receiving a booster shot.
About 22,700 people in the country have died from the coronavirus — a 0.13% fatality rate, one of the world’s lowest.
Menthol cigarettes and other menthol tobacco products may soon be things of the past, according to an announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday saying authorities are moving forward on a plan to ban them.
It could still be years before the products are removed from stores.
“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Advocates for banning menthol tobacco products have long said they disproportionately impact African Americans, among whom they’re popular. It is estimated that 85% of African American smokers use menthol products.
“Black folks die disproportionately of heart disease, lung cancer and stroke,” said Phillip Gardiner of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “Menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars are the main vectors of those diseases in the Black and brown communities and have been for a long time.”
Experts at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center say menthol cigarettes are more dangerous than regular cigarettes because their minty flavoring masks the harshness of tobacco smoke, allowing for deeper inhalation and possibly more intense smoking habits. They also say more than half of smokers between the ages of 12 and 17 use menthol tobacco products.
Some states such as California and Massachusetts have already banned menthol tobacco products.
Members of the public will be allowed to give their input on the proposed ban until July 5, after which the FDA will finalize a plan.
Tobacco companies are likely to launch legal efforts to prevent banning menthol tobacco products.
Cigarette stocks were mixed on the news despite menthol tobacco products reportedly accounting for one-third of the market in the United States.
It is estimated that 12% of Americans smoke cigarettes.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters and The Associated Press.
The World Health Organization warns that vaccine-preventable diseases are spreading across the African continent because routine immunizations against killer diseases have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tens of millions of people have missed out on routine immunization services. That not only puts their lives at risk from potentially deadly diseases but creates an environment in which killer diseases can thrive and spread.
Benido Impouma, director for communicable and noncommunicable diseases in the World Health Organization’s regional office for Africa, said the pandemic has put a huge strain on health systems. It has impaired routine immunization services in many African countries and forced the suspension of vaccination drives.
Over the past year, he said, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases have increased across the continent.
“For instance, between January and March of this year, around 17,000 cases of measles were recorded. This is a 400 percent increase compared with the same period last year,” Impouma said. “Twenty-four countries in our region confirmed outbreaks of a variant of polio last year, which is four times more than in 2020.”
He noted that outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as yellow fever, also are surging.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF recently issued a report warning of a heightened risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. They attribute it in large part to increasing inequalities in access to vaccines due to pandemic-related disruptions.
They expressed particular concern about a worldwide spike in measles cases, which have increased by 79 percent in the first two months of this year. They noted that most cases were reported in Africa and in eastern Mediterranean regions.
WHO is working to improve immunization coverage and protection for children, Impouma said, adding that WHO and its partners are supporting African countries to carry out catch-up routine vaccination campaigns.
“More than 30 African countries implemented at least one routine catch-up immunization campaign in the second half of last year,” he said. “And this year, countries are showing progress, with measles and yellow fever campaigns starting again. Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan have reinstated measles campaigns, which is good news.”
However, COVID-19 news is not as promising. WHO said that this week new COVID-19 cases and deaths on the continent have increased for the first time after a decline of more than two months for cases and one month for deaths.
The latest recorded figures put the number of cases at 11.6 million, including nearly 253,000 deaths.
An application developed in Kenya to improve the marketing of fish caught in Lake Victoria is helping women fishmongers fend off sex-for-fish exploitation by fishermen. The Aquarech app allows traders to buy fish without having to negotiate with fishermen – as Ruud Elmendorp reports from Kisumu, Kenya.
Videographer: Ruud Elmendorp Produced by: Henry Hernandez