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State media calls COVID-19 travel curbs against Chinese visitors ‘discriminatory’

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Travellers queue to board a plane at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, on Dec. 30.TINGSHU WANG/Reuters

Chinese state-media have railed against the growing number of foreign governments imposing COVID-19 tests on travellers from China, calling the measures “discriminatory.”

Having kept its borders all but shut for three years, imposing a strict regime of lockdowns and relentless testing, Beijing abruptly reversed course toward living with the virus on Dec. 7, and infections have spread rapidly in recent weeks.

South Korea and Spain on Friday joined a growing list of countries, including the United States, India and others, which have imposed COVID-19 tests for travellers from China over concerns about the scale of its COVID-19 outbreak and skepticism over Beijing’s health statistics.

Malaysia said it would screen all international arrivals for fever.

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“The real intention is to sabotage China’s three years of COVID-19 control efforts and attack the country’s system,” state-run tabloid Global Times said in an article late on Thursday, calling the restrictions “unfounded” and “discriminatory.”

What new COVID-19 restrictions are travellers from China facing?

China will stop requiring inbound travellers to go into quarantine from Jan. 8. But it will still demand a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before departure.

Senior Chinese health officials held a video conference with the World Health Organization on Friday and exchanged views the current epidemic situation, China’s National Health Commission said in a statement without elaborating further.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier in the day that the organization needed more information to assess the latest surge in infections in China, without taking a position on the issue of travel tests.

Not all countries are imposing tests. European Union members, in particular, are divided.

Over the past days, officials in France, Germany and Portugal have said they saw no need for now for new restrictions, while Austria has stressed the economic benefits of Chinese tourists’ return to Europe.

Global spending by Chinese visitors was worth more than US$250-billion a year before the pandemic.

Acting a day after EU health officials failed to agree on a joint course of action, Spain followed Italy’s lead to become the second of the bloc’s 27 members to require tests for travellers from China.

“At a national level, we will implement airport controls requiring all passengers coming from China to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of a full vaccination course,” Health Minister Carolina Darias said.

EU health experts are expected to hold a crisis response meeting next week, according to an EU source.

In the meantime, EU health chief Stella Kyriakides wrote to the bloc’s health ministers to suggest they immediately scale up genomic sequencing of COVID-19 infections and monitoring of waste water, including from airports, to detect any new variants given the virus surge in China.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention is also considering sampling waste water from international aircraft to track any emerging new variants, the agency told Reuters.

The United States has raised concerns about potential mutations of the virus as it sweeps through the world’s most populous country, as well as over China’s data transparency.

Meanwhile, a COVID-19 vaccination campaign for German nationals in China started its pilot phase, the German ambassador in Beijing, Patricia Flor, said on Twitter.

A shipment of 11,500 doses of the BioNTech vaccine arrived last week, enough to give one shot each to half of the 20,000 or so German nationals residing in China.

The lifting of restrictions in China, after widespread protests against them in November, has overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes across the country, with scenes of people on intravenous drips by the roadside and lines of hearses outside crematoria fuelling public concern.

Health experts say China has been caught ill-prepared by the U-turn in policies long championed by President Xi Jinping.

They say the elderly in rural areas may be particularly vulnerable because of inadequate medical resources. Next month’s Lunar New Year festival, when hundreds of millions travel to their hometowns, will add to the risk.

China, a country of 1.4 billion people, reported one new COVID-19 death for Thursday, the same as the day before – numbers which do not match the experience of other countries after they reopened.

U.K.-based health data firm Airfinity said on Thursday around 9,000 people in China are probably dying each day from COVID-19. Cumulative deaths in China since Dec. 1 have likely reached 100,000, with infections totalling 18.6 million, it said.

China’s chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou said on Thursday that the difference between the number of deaths in the current wave of infections and the death rate for the same period in pandemic-free years would be studied to calculate the “excess mortality” and gauge any potential underestimate of deaths from COVID-19.

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Why social media makes you feel bad

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Have you ever found yourself scrolling through social media and noticed you felt a bit down? Maybe a little envious? Why aren’t you on a yacht? Running a startup? Looking amazing 24/7?

The good news is you are not alone. Although social media has some benefits, it can also make us feel a little depressed.

Why does social media make us feel bad?

As humans we inherently compare ourselves to others to determine our self-worth. Psychologists call this social comparison theory.

We primarily make two types of comparisons: upward and downward comparisons.

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Upward comparisons occur when we compare ourselves to someone else (in real life or on social media) and feel they are better than us (an unfavourable comparison for us) in whatever domain we are assessing (such as status, beauty, abilities, success, and so on).

For example, comparing your day at work to your friend’s post from the ski fields (we’re looking at you Dave!) is likely to be an upward comparison. Another example is making appearance comparisons which can make you feel worse about yourself or your looks .

Although upward comparison can sometimes motivate you to do better, this depends on the change being achievable and on your esteem. Research suggests upward comparisons may be particularly damaging if you have low self-esteem.

In contrast, downward comparisons occur when we view ourselves more favourably than the other person – for example, by comparing yourself to someone less fortunate. Downward comparisons make us feel better about ourselves but are rare in social media because people don’t tend to post about the mundane realities of life.

 

Comparisons in social media

Social media showcases the best of people’s lives. It presents a carefully curated version of reality and presents it as fact. Sometimes, as with influencers, this is intentional but often it is unconscious bias. We are just naturally more likely to post when we are happy, on holiday or to share successes – and even then we choose the best version to share.

When we compare ourselves to what we see on social media, we typically make upward comparisons which make us feel worse. We compare ourselves on an average day to others on their best day. In fact, it’s not even their best day. It’s often a perfectly curated, photoshopped, produced, filter-applied moment. It’s not a fair comparison.

That’s not to say social media is all bad. It can help people feel supportedconnected, and get information. So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, keep your social media use in check with these tips.

 

Concrete ways you can make yourself feel better about social media

Monitor your reactions. If social media is enjoyable, you may not need to change anything – but if it’s making you exhausted, depressed or anxious, or you are losing time to mindless scrolling, it’s time for change.

Avoid comparisons. Remind yourself that comparing your reality with a selected moment on social media is an unrealistic benchmark. This is especially the case with high-profile accounts who are paid to create perfect content.

Be selective. If you must compare, search for downward comparisons (with those who are worse off) or more equal comparisons to help you feel better. This might include unfollowing celebrities, focusing on real posts by friends, or using reality focused platforms like BeReal.

Redefine success. Influencers and celebrities make luxury seem like the norm. Most people don’t live in pristine homes and sip barista-made coffee in white sheets looking perfect. Consider what real success means to you and measure yourself against that instead.

Practise gratitude. Remind yourself of things that are great in your life, and celebrate your accomplishments (big and small!). Create a “happy me” folder of your favourite life moments, pics with friends, and great pictures of yourself, and look at this if you find yourself falling into the comparison trap.

Unplug. If needed, take a break, or cut down. Avoid mindless scrolling by moving tempting apps to the last page of your phone or use in-built focus features on your device. Alternatively, use an app to temporarily block yourself from social media.

Engage in real life. Sometimes social media makes people notice what is missing in their own lives, which can encourage growth. Get out with friends, start a new hobby, embrace life away from the screen.

Get amongst nature. Nature has health and mood benefits that combat screen time.

Be the change. Avoid only sharing the picture-perfect version of your life and share (in a safe setting) your real life. You’d be surprised how this will resonate with others. This will help you and them feel better.

Seek help. If you are feeling depressed or anxious over a period of time, get support. Talk to your friends, family or a GP about how you are feeling. Alternatively contact one of the support lines like LifelineKids Helpline, or 13Yarn.

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Social Media Buzz: Mt. Washington, Balloon, Adani, Kyrie Irving – Bloomberg

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Social Media Buzz: Mt. Washington, Balloon, Adani, Kyrie Irving  Bloomberg

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Canada adds Russian media personalities, companies in latest round of sanctions – CP24

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  1. Canada adds Russian media personalities, companies in latest round of sanctions  CP24
  2. Canada adds Russian media personalities, companies in latest round of sanctions  Halifax.CityNews.ca

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