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Pope Francis agrees to make first papal visit to India since 1999

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Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit, in a turnaround in relations with the Vatican following the failure of negotiations for a papal trip to the predominantly Hindu nation in 2017.

There are about 20 million Roman Catholics in India, about 1.5% of the population of 1.3 billion. Some 80% of India’s people are Hindu.

In 2016, Francis said he was “almost sure” of visiting India the following year along with Bangladesh. But Indian Catholic Church leaders failed to convince Modi, who heads a nationalist administration, to invite him.

The last pope to visit India was John Paul II, who went to New Delhi in 1999 to issue a papal document on the Church in Asia.

“Had a very warm meeting with Pope Francis. I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him and also invited him to visit India,” Modi said on Twitter on Saturday.

The Indian Foreign Ministry said the invitation was for the pope “to visit India at an early date, which was accepted with pleasure”.

A Vatican statement gave no details of the meeting between Francis and Modi, the first between a pope and an Indian prime minister in more than two decades. Modi is in Rome to attend the G20 summit of the world’s richest countries.

At the time the 2017 visit fell through, Church officials said the Indian government had cited scheduling problems for the prime minister. Francis visited Myanmar and Bangladesh instead.

The last Indian prime minister to meet a pope was Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who met John Paul II at the Vatican in 2000.

The Indian Foreign Ministry said Modi and Francis also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

 

(Additional reporting by Euan Rocha in New Delhi; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Helen Popper)

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

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The latest:

  • Liberals introduce bill to ban intimidation of patients and health-care workers.

Israel on Saturday said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country — making it the first to shut its borders completely in response to the potentially more contagious omicron coronavirus variant — and that it would also reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the spread of the variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days.

“Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country,” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told local media, “and that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.”

Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine, Bennett said. The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.

WATCH | What’s known about the omicron variant: 

What’s known about the omicron variant

The World Health Organization has declared a new variant of concern called omicron, first identified in South Africa. Scientists say there are a large number of mutations in the omicron variant, which means it could be more infectious and cause more severe illness. 3:00

The Shin Bet domestic security agency’s phone-tracking technology will be used to locate carriers of the new variant in order to curb its transmission to others, the statement said.

Used on and off since March 2020, the surveillance technology matched virus carriers’ locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they had come into contact. Israel’s Supreme Court this year limited the scope of its use after civil rights groups mounted challenges over privacy concerns.

The variant — which since first being detected in South Africa has also been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and Britain — has sparked global concern and a wave of travel curbs, although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop omicron from circulating globally.

Israel has so far confirmed one case of omicron, with seven suspected cases. The Health Ministry has not said whether the confirmed case was vaccinated. Three of the seven suspected cases were fully vaccinated, the ministry said on Saturday, and three had not returned from travel abroad recently.

Also on Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was necessary to take “targeted and precautionary measures” after two people in the U.K. tested positive for a recently discovered coronavirus variant.

WATCH | U.K. tightens COVID-19 rules over omicron concerns:

U.K. tightens COVID-19 rules as world on alert over new omicron variant

9 hours ago

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was necessary to take ‘targeted and precautionary measures’ after two people in the U.K. tested positive for a recently discovered coronavirus variant. 3:51

He told a news conference that the new rules will be reviewed in three weeks when scientists will know more about the variant, named omicron. It was first detected in South Africa this past week.

Johnson said anyone arriving in England will be asked to take a mandatory PCR test for COVID-19 on the second day and must self-isolate until they provide a negative test. And if someone tests positive for the omicron variant, their close contacts will have to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status.

He also said mask-wearing in shops and on public transit will be required and that the vaccination program will be accelerated, without providing specific details.


What’s happening across Canada


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday, more than 260.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.1 million.

In the Americas, France has postponed implementing a vaccination mandate for health workers in the Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe after the measure spurred widespread protests in which police officers were injured and journalists attacked.

PHOTOS | France mulls more autonomy for Martinique, Guadeloupe amid COVID-19 riots: 

In Europe, hospitals in southern and eastern regions of Germany have warned they are running out of intensive care beds because of the large numbers of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

In Africa, officials in South Africa say urgent preparations are needed to enable public hospitals to cope with a potential omicron-driven influx of patients needing intensive care.

In Asia, India restarted exports of vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX for the first time since April, and producer Serum Institute of India forecast a substantial increase in supplies beginning early next year.

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Holiday shopping in Canada: Supply chain issues, delivery deadlines – CTV News

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BARRIE —
Canada Post says it is adding additional staff and vehicles in anticipation of another busy holiday season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Canada Post told CTVNews.ca in an email Saturday that the company “continues to ramp up for a busy peak holiday season as Canadians have become much more comfortable shopping online during the pandemic.”

The company said in 2020, during the two weeks ending on Christmas Eve, its employees delivered almost 20 million parcels to Canadians. A record 2.4 million of which were delivered on Dec. 21.

But, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and persistent global supply chain issues, should Canadians be worried about holiday package delivery delays?

Here’s a closer look at what’s going on.

GET HOLIDAY SHOPPING DONE EARLY

David Soberman is a professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

He told CTVNews.ca that ultimately, shipping companies like Canada Post are the “last link,” when it comes to the global supply chain and getting goods to consumers.

“Most of the problems in the supply chain are occurring at the retail level and further upstream,” he said during a telephone interview on Saturday.

Beyond ramping up their capacity to deal with an influx of packages during the holiday season, Soberman said there’s not much else shipping companies can do to mitigate these issues for consumers.

He said customers should make sure they check the estimated delivery date listed online by retailers, to ensure their holiday gifts will arrive on time.

However, Soberman cautioned that some specific, popular items might be especially hard to find this year.

“What someone’s going to do if they go into Canadian Tire and they can’t find something – they’re going to start to look on Amazon.ca, or they’ll maybe they’ll look on Walmart.ca,” he said. “And then they’ll start looking on other sites.”

He said if everyone looking for the same item does the same, “eventually you won’t be able to get it.”

“And that’s what’s going to happen with some of the more popular items – certain toys, certain board games, certain electronics, etc.,” he said.

Consumers should try to get their holiday shopping done as early as possible, Soberman said, and should have back-up gift ideas for their loved ones, in case the item they want is unavailable.

Soberman also pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying if new variants are detected in Canada, or the pandemic? worsens, some areas could see new lockdowns or restrictions, which could impede holiday shopping.

“The sooner you get your shopping done the better,” he said.

WHAT HAS CANADA POST SAID?

Canada Post said it encourages customers to “take the time and do their research online with retailers to understand the availability of certain items and ensure they aren’t disappointed.”

The company has also released a schedule for sending holiday cards and packages. The dates vary depending on what you are sending and where.

The deadline to send a package by regular mail to an address in Canada is Dec. 9, while customers have until Dec. 21 to ship priority packages within Canada.

The deadline to send a card nationally is Dec. 17.

The full details, including deadlines to send packages internationally can be found here.

Canada Post said the company is also taking several measures to keep up with the busy holiday season.

The company said it is hiring 4,200 additional seasonal staff across the country and is adding 1,400 more vehicles to its fleet.

Canada Post is also “leveraging new sortation capacity” recently added in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Kitchener, Montreal and Moncton.

The company said it is also adding “temporary parcel pickup locations” in major urban centres and secondary markets to “ease congestion and lineups for holiday parcel pickup at some of our busier post offices.”

WHAT HAS UPS SAID?

In an email to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson for UPS didn’t note any shipping delay concerns, but said the company’s “dedicated employees make UPS well-equipped to handle the challenges of the pandemic and the peak holiday season.”

The company said by the end of next year, it will have also added 49 new aircraft to its fleet since 2017, and said it will have added two million square feet of automated facilities by the end of the year. According to UPS, almost 90 per cent of its packages will flow through these automated facilities.

UPS said the investments in additional air and ground capacity and technology means it can process about 130,000 more pieces of mail per hour than last year.

CTVNews.ca also reached out to Amazon and FedEx to determine if Canadian customers can expect to see shipping delays, but did not hear back by time of publication.  

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Canada bans flights from South Africa and neighbouring countries – Canada Immigration News

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Published on November 27th, 2021 at 03:00am EST

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Sunset over Cape Town in South Africa.

Sunset over Cape Town in South Africa.

The Canadian government announced that it will limit travel to southern Africa, a region which has reported cases of a new COVID-19 variant of concern.

As of November 26, all foreign nationals who have travelled through the seven affected countries in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Canada. The affected nations include: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique .

Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to return home, but they will have to fly home indirectly, passing through a third country where they will also need to take a  molecular COVID-19 test.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Canada’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos said people already in Canada who travelled in the region over the past two weeks should get a COVID-19 test and stay in isolation until they receive a negative test result.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the new measures will be in affect until at least Jan. 31, 2022.

The announcement comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) dubbed the new COVID-19 strain, also known as Omicron or B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern. So far, the Omicron variant has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, as well as in Israel, Belgium, and Hong Kong. It has not been found in Canada, according to Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam.

The transport minister encouraged Canadians who are unable to get home due to the restrictions to contact the emergency watch centre.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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