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Clutching graveyard crosses, hundreds protest violence against women in Mexico

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Holding aloft crosses bearing the names of murdered women, hundreds of people marched in Mexico‘s capital on Wednesday to protest violence against women amidst a steady nationwide increase in femicides.

Chanting “We are your voice,” organizers used megaphones to read out the names of murdered women in downtown Mexico City.

The “Day of Dead Women” march took place a day after Mexico’s national holiday Day of the Dead. About 500 people took part in the protest, according to a Reuters witness.

Some 762 women were murdered between January and September this year, a 5% rise from the same period in 2020, according to government data https://www.gob.mx/sesnsp/acciones-y-programas/victimas-nueva-metodologia?state=published published in October.

The recent uptick continues the 130% increase in femicides from 2015 to 2020 that has sparked widespread protests calling for urgent action to stop the violence.

From 2015 to 2018, the year President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office, annual femicides went from 427 to over 900 and have only increased each year of his administration.

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez earlier in the day touted a decline in femicides between August and September this year, adding the government has opened 73 centers for women’s justice across Mexico to help female victims of violence.

Emergency calls related to violence against women in Mexico rose more than 30% https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-women-violence-trfn/emergency-calls-on-violence-against-women-spiked-in-mexico-in-2020-idUSKBN29U2FH in 2020, as COVID-19 lockdowns kept families stuck at home.

In March, protesters wrote the names of femicide victims on barricades erected outside the National Palace and clashed with riot police https://www.reuters.com/article/us-womens-day-mexico-march/women-march-in-mexico-to-make-their-voices-heard-seek-justice-idUSKBN2B02CO on International Women’s Day.

 

(Reporting by Jake Kincaid; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Karishma Singh)

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Omicron variant prompts emergency G7 health meeting, including Canada – Globalnews.ca

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Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos attended an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers Monday to discuss the emergence of the highly mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The new variant appeared in South Africa, coinciding with an increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.

The news prompted border closures as well as screening measures in Canada and around the world.

“The overall risk related to Omicron is considered very high for a number of reasons,” the World Health Organization warned.

“There is concerning preliminary evidence on Omicron suggesting, in contrast to previous (variants of concern), both potential immune escape and higher transmissibility that could lead to further surges with severe consequences.”

Read more:
Can Omicron outpace Delta COVID-19 variant? Scientists seek answers

Two cases of the Omicron variant have been discovered in Ottawa, and public-health workers are doing contact tracing in an attempt to stamp out transmission.

Officials warn more cases are likely to be found within Canada in coming days.

A spokeswoman for Duclos said more information about the virtual G7 meeting will be released later Monday.


Click to play video: 'What we know about the Omicron variant'



5:52
What we know about the Omicron variant


What we know about the Omicron variant

The developments come as countries debated a new global convention on pandemic preparedness and response at a special meeting of the World Health Assembly on Monday.

It is only the second time the group has held an emergency summit of this kind.

If member countries agree, the assembly would begin developing what would essentially serve as an international treaty on pandemic readiness.

“Global health security is too important to be left to chance, or goodwill, or shifting geopolitical currents, or the vested interests of companies and shareholders,” World Health Organization director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the outset of the summit.

“The best way we can address them is with a legally binding agreement between nations: an accord forged from the recognition that we have no future but a common future.”


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Omicron variant poses “very high” global risk, WHO warns'



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COVID-19: Omicron variant poses “very high” global risk, WHO warns


COVID-19: Omicron variant poses “very high” global risk, WHO warns

He said the emergence of the Omicron variant underlines the perilous and precarious nature of the global situation.

“Indeed, Omicron demonstrates just why the world needs a new accord on pandemics. Our current system disincentives countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores,” he said.

The idea is to prevent another global crisis like the one posed by COVID-19 and its new, potentially more transmissible variants.

“Our position has always been that we are stronger when we work together,” Duclos said Friday in support of a new convention.

Read more:
WHO slams southern Africa travel bans spurred by Omicron variant scare

A binding international agreement would help countries to collaborate and would allow Canada to more easily share its expertise on the world stage, Duclos said.

“That level of policy and scientific leadership is a sign that we can do even better in the future as we collaborate with WHO and other organization in order to prevent the incidents of future pandemics and protect Canadians against such things.”

The WHO working group on the file says governments should look to develop the convention in tandem with efforts to strengthen existing international health regulations.

The working group’s priorities include a focus on global equity, rapid risk detection and assessment, a global approach to misinformation and the sharing of pathogens, genetic information and biological samples.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Canada supports plan for international pandemic treaty – CBC.ca

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Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says Canada supports the development of a new global convention on pandemic preparedness and response that will be debated at a special meeting of the World Health Assembly today.

It is only the second time in its history that the group has held an emergency summit of this kind.

If member countries agree, the assembly would go to work developing what would essentially serve as an international treaty on pandemic preparedness.

The idea is to prevent another global crisis like the one posed by COVID-19 and its new, more transmissible variants.

Duclos, who would serve as the federal government’s chief delegate, says the convention would help countries to collaborate and would allow Canada to more easily share its expertise on the world stage.

The WHO working group on the file says that governments should look to develop the convention in tandem with efforts to strengthen existing International Health Regulations.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

The World Health Organization on Monday pushed for an international accord to help prevent and fight future pandemics amid the emergence of the worrying new omicron coronavirus variant.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said many uncertainties remain about just how transmissible the variant is, and how severe an infection it might cause.

Tedros joined leaders like outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera for a long-planned and largely virtual special session of the UN health agency’s member states at the World Health Assembly.

The gathering is aimed at devising a global action plan toward preventing, preparing for, and responding to future pandemics.

“The emergence of the highly mutated omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is,” Tedros said, calling for a “legally binding” agreement that wasn’t mentioned in a draft text seeking consensus on the way forward. “Indeed, omicron demonstrates just why the world needs a new accord on pandemics.”

“Our current system disincentivizes countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores,” he said, noting that South Africa and Botswana — where the new variant was detected in southern Africa — should be praised and not “penalized” for their work. That was an allusion to travel restrictions announced by many countries on air travel to and from the region.

Tedros said WHO scientists and others around the world were working urgently to decipher the threat posed by the new variant, saying: “We don’t yet know whether omicron is associated with more transmission, more severe disease, more risk of infections, or more risk of evading vaccines.”

The world should now be “wide awake” to the threat of the coronavirus, “but omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it’s not done with us,” he said.

A draft resolution set to be adopted by the World Health Assembly stops short of calling for work toward specifically establishing a “pandemic treaty” or “legally binding instrument” sought by some, which could beef up the international response when — not if — a new pandemic erupts.

European Union member countries and others had sought language calling for work toward a treaty, but the United States and a few other countries countered that the substance of any accord should be worked out first before any such document is given a name. A “treaty” would suggest a legally binding agreement that could require ratification — and would likely incur domestic political haggling in some countries.

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, seen in this photo taken in September, said more needs to be learned about the new coronavirus variant omicron. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Merkel, whose 16-year tenure is likely to end next week, called for “reliable financing” for WHO and increased contributions to the UN agency from its member states — while alluding to the EU position in favour of a binding agreement.

“The catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of health and the economy ought to be a lesson to us,” she said by video message. “Viruses know no national borders. That’s precisely why we should lay down measures to be taken to improve prevention, early detection and response in internationally binding fashion.”

The three-day meeting that opened Monday amounts to a long-term approach: Any UN-backed agreement is likely to take many months, if not years, to be concluded and come into effect.

But it comes as many countries have been scrambling to address the emergence of omicron, which has led to travel bans across the world and sent tremors through stock markets on Friday.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 6:20 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Dr. Peter Jüni, head of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table, talks about what we know about omicron, what we still have to learn, and how people should handle news of a new variant: 

New variant will ‘mushroom everywhere,’ says Ontario science adviser

5 hours ago

The omicron variant spreads rapidly, says Dr. Peter Jüni, the head of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, so we need to continue to act quickly with public health measures in Canada to help contain it. 7:52


What’s happening around the world

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci speak about the omicron variant in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Monday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Monday afternoon, more than 261.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.2 million.

In the Americas, President Joe Biden sought to reassure Americans on Monday that the United States was prepared to handle the new omicron variant, pledging to accelerate development of vaccines to handle it if necessary.

“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following a meeting with his COVID-19 team.

“Sooner or later we are going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States,” Biden said. The White House is working with vaccine makers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans, if needed, to handle omicron, he said.

In Europe, Britain will offer a COVID-19 booster vaccine to all adults and give second doses to children aged between 12 and 15, the U.K.’s top vaccine advisers said on Monday, accelerating shots in light of concern about the spread of the omicron variant.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization said that all adults between 18 and 39 years old could receive shots, extending a program that is already open for over 40s. The JCVI also said that the gap between second doses and boosters could be shortened to three months from six months, in response to the changing risk posed by omicron.

“Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the omicron variant,” said Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s chair for COVID-19 immunization.

JCVI reiterated that it advised a largely age-based approach to the booster program, with older adults as well as vulnerable people prioritized for shots.

In Africa on Sunday, a South African doctor who was one of the first to suspect the presence of a new variant said omicron appeared so far to be producing mild symptoms.

However, Abdool Karim, a professor at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal and Columbia University in the United States, said it was too early to draw firm conclusions, because doctors can only comment on patients who they treat.

“In terms of clinical presentation, there’s not enough data yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s health minister called on Monday for a lifting of “discriminatory” travel bans imposed on southern African countries because of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“We find these travel bans discriminatory in light of the fact that the same travel bans have not been imposed on other countries where this variant has been found,” Joe Phaahla told WHO in a speech.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines on Monday launched an ambitious drive to vaccinate nine million people against COVID-19 in three days, deploying security forces and thousands of volunteers in a program made urgent by the threats of the omicron variant. Three million daily vaccinations would be nearly quadruple the national average of 829,000 during November.

People leave on a bus back to Malaysia as the Vaccinated Travel Lane between Singapore and Malaysia opens. The land border between the countries reopened after it was shut for nearly two years due to the pandemic. (Caroline Chia/Reuters)

Meanwhile, Singapore and Malaysia reopened one of the world’s busiest land borders on Monday, allowing vaccinated travellers to cross after nearly two years of remaining shut due to the pandemic.

In the Middle East, OPEC and its allies have postponed technical meetings to later this week, giving themselves more time to assess the impact of the new omicron coronavirus variant on oil demand and prices, according to OPEC+ sources and documents.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

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