Tag: World

Spike in cases delays Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble | World

Spike in cases delays Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble

FILE – In this Oct. 9, 2020, file photo, people wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus, walk down a street in Hong Kong. Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong. The air travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

HONG KONG (AP) — Singapore and Hong Kong on Saturday postponed the start of an air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, citing a spike in infections in the Chinese territory as a “sober reminder” of risks to public health.

The travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference.

The arrangement is meant to allow travelers between the two cities to enter without quarantine as long as they complete coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destinations, and fly on designated flights.

Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 untraceable local infections.

“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of securing public health, and also make sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Yau said. “In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture.”

Under the initial agreement, the travel bubble was to be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in either Singapore or Hong Kong exceeded five on a seven-day moving average. The current average in Hong Kong is nearly four, prompting Yau and Singapore’s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, to postpone the inaugural flight.

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Israel Welcomes End to Convicted U.S. Spy Pollard’s Travel Ban | World News

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli leaders on Saturday welcomed the U.S. decision to end parole restrictions on Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer who served 30 years in prison after being convicted of spying for Israel.

The U.S. Justice Department’s parole commission decided on Friday to allow a travel ban on Pollard to expire. The move was seen by some as a parting gift from the Trump administration to its ally Israel.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the lifting of the restrictions on Jonathan Pollard,” a statement from the Israeli leader’s office said.

“The Prime Minister thanked Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer for responsibly and sensitively leading the contacts with the administration. The Prime Minister hopes to see Jonathan Pollard in Israel soon,” the statement said.

Pollard pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to commit espionage in connection with providing Israeli contacts with hundreds of classified documents he had obtained as a naval intelligence specialist in exchange for thousands of dollars.

He was sentenced in 1987 to life in prison. After serving 30 years, which included time in custody following his 1985 arrest, he was released on parole in 2015 under terms which dictated he remain in the U.S. for five years.

Pollard, 66, has sought to move to Israel, which granted him citizenship while in prison and had long pushed for his release. The espionage affair strained U.S.-Israel relations for decades.

Netanyahu’s statement was echoed by other Israeli ministers and by President Ruvi Rivlin.

“Over the years we have shared in Jonathan Pollard’s pain, and felt a responsibility and commitment to bring about his release. Now we will be able to welcome him and his family home,” Rivlin said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Mike Harrison)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Philippines’ Duterte Ends Overseas Travel Ban on Healthcare Workers, Minister Says | World News

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved ending a ban on deploying the nation’s healthcare workers, his labour minister said on Saturday, clearing the way for thousands of nurses to take up jobs overseas.

“The president already approved the lifting of the temporary suspension of deployment of nurses and other medical workers,” Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello told Reuters.

Bello said the spread of the novel coronavirus was slowing down in the country and conditions were improving, so the government could afford to let its healthcare workers leave.

The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, but daily case numbers and death rates have dropped.

To ensure the Philippines has enough medical professionals to continue to fight the pandemic at home, only 5,000 healthcare workers will be allowed to leave every year, Bello said.

“We are starting only with a cap of 5,000 so we will not run out (of medical workers), but this may increase eventually,” Bello said.

Last year, almost 17,000 nurses signed overseas work contracts data from the Commission on Higher Education and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration shows.

The government in April barred nurses, doctors and other medical workers from leaving, saying they were needed to fight the coronavirus crisis at home.

Thousands of health workers, who call themselves “priso-nurses”, had appealed to the government to let them take jobs abroad, Reuters reported in September. The nurses say they feel underpaid, under-appreciated and unprotected in the Philippines.

While the lifting of the travel ban was a “welcome development,” Maristela Abenojar, President of Filipino Nurses United, challenged the government to make true its commitment to give its nurses better pay and benefits if it wants them to stay.

Filipino health workers are on the front lines of the pandemic at hospitals in the United States, Europe and the Middle East as well as at home.

New coronavirus cases in the Philippines have remained below 2,000 since Nov. 10, while deaths, which totalled 8,025 as of Nov. 20 only equal 1.93% of the country’s 415,067 cases.

Hospital bed occupancy has also eased from critical levels, and the government has been gradually easing quarantine restrictions to jumpstart the coronavirus-hit economy.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by William Mallard and Lincoln Feast.)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Disney Previews Upcoming ‘Star Wars’ Hotel at Disney World

Earlier this week, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Products, provided a sneak peek of what’s on the horizon for next year and beyond at the IAAPA Expo: Virtual Education Conference.


Among the attractions in the works includes an Avengers Campus at Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The most highly-anticipated experience, however, may be the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. 

Once guests arrive, they will be whisked away onto a starship which will take them through the galaxy and to their temporary sleeping quarters for a two-day, two-night stay that will include a “trip” to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened last year. From the cabins to the dining and everything in-between, the entire experience is shaping up to be mesmerizingly unforgettable, as you’ll witness in the video above. 

The announcement of the progress on the Galatic Starcruiser resort and more is a bittersweet moment for Disney after the company laid off 28,000 employees due to the crushing financial impact of the pandemic. CNBC reports 67 percent of the workers who were let go worked on a part-time basis. 

Last year, the parks, experiences and products division of Disney made up 37 percent of the company’s $69.6 billion in total revenue. Disney estimates that the pandemic will cost this segment around $2.4 billion. These significant losses have been met with the news that Disney+ has exceeded expectations by amassing 73.7 million subscribers in its first year. Disney hoped to reach between 60 and 90 million subscriptions by 2024. 

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Coronavirus live news: India passes 9m cases; China gives 1m people Sinopharm vaccine | World news

India passes 9 million cases


Churches in the Philippine capital Manila have been told not to hold any Christmas carol activities this season as part of measures to limit the transmission of Covid-19.

The Philippines, a catholic majority country, has one of the longest Christmas periods in the world, with celebrations beginning at the start of September and, for some, lasting as late as Valentine’s Day.

It’s the country’s most important holiday, but this year’s festivities will be different: as well as a ban on carols in church, there are also limits on church attendance,

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Coronavirus live news: China has given 1m people Sinopharm vaccine; US CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel | World news

California enacts coronavirus curfew for majority of state’s 40m residents

CDC advises against Thanksgiving travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans not to travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, due to the nationwide surge in new coronavirus cases.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Dr Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager, said during a briefing today.

“For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” Walke added.

Walke particularly expressed fear about the possibility of Americans unknowingly spreading coronavirus to family members, saying, “One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it.”

In a set of updated guidelines, the CDC recommended celebrating Thanksgiving virtually or only with members of one’s own household.

The guidance says, “In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.”

The news comes a day after the US coronavirus death toll surpassed 250,000, which is far higher than any other country in the world:

China has given 1m people Sinopharm vaccine

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CDC warns Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving gatherings | World news

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With the coronavirus surging out of control, America’s top public health agency pleaded with Americans on Thursday not to travel for the traditional Thanksgiving family gatherings next week and not to spend the holiday with people from outside their own household.

It was some of the firmest guidance yet from the government on curtailing traditional gatherings to fight the outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the recommendations just one week before Thanksgiving, which falls on 26 November this year, at a time when diagnosed infections, hospitalizations and deaths are surging across the country.

In many areas, the healthcare system is being squeezed by a combination of sick patients filling up beds and medical workers falling ill themselves.

The CDC’s Erin Sauber-Schatz cited more than 1m new cases in the US over the past week as the reason for the new guidance.

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household,” she said.

If families do decide to include returning college students, military members or others for turkey and stuffing, the CDC is recommending that the hosts take added precautions: gatherings should be outdoors if possible, with people keeping 6ft apart and wearing masks and just one person serving the food.

Whether Americans heed the warning is another matter. The deadly comeback by the virus has been blamed in part on pandemic fatigue, or people getting tired of masks and other precautions.

And surges were seen last summer after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, despite blunt warnings from health authorities.

The United States has seen more than 11m diagnosed infections and over 250,000 deaths from the coronavirus, with inadequate action being taken to prevent the spread of the disease amid a leaked warning from inside the White House on Wednesday of a pandemic that involves “aggressive, unrelenting, broad community spread across the country, without evidence of improvement but, rather, further deterioration”.

CDC scientists believe that somewhere around 40% of people who are infected do not have obvious symptoms but can still spread the virus.

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National Geographic’s best places for world travel in 2021

Adventure awaits, post-pandemic.

Travel plans aboard may be canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but National Geographic’s “Best of the World 2021” list will transport jet setters to dreamy escapes they can book when the time is right.

 Tulsa, Okla., is one of the destinations featured on National Geographic's 2021 travel list. (iStock). 

 Tulsa, Okla., is one of the destinations featured on National Geographic’s 2021 travel list. (iStock). 

The list features 25 awe-inspiring destinations for post-pandemic travel encouraging readers to “Dream now, go later.”

“While the pandemic has brought our journeys to a standstill, it has not quieted our curiosity. Ahead of a new year – with the promise of a return to travel – we are eager to share these 25 timely tales of timeless places that will define our future itineraries,” National Geographic editors explain.


The list highlights Katmai National Park in Alaska, mountains and beaches in the Caribbean’s Dominica; hiking in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park and Spain’s Victoria, which is also called Gasteiz, its Basque name, to take in the sounds of emerging jazz artists.

Nat Geo’s roster of destinations is separated by five different categories including Adventure, Nature, Culture, Sustainability and Family.


The 2021 list features a special focus on cities and nations that are reportedly experiencing a racial reckoning and moving the needle on diversity and inclusion efforts. Among them is Tulsa, Okla., where the city is introducing Greenwood Rising, its new “Black Wall Street” history center that will be a hub for speakers and events in the city’s Historic Greenwood District that was devastated by racial violence.


Check out the full list of destinations here.

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Bill Gates Sees More Than 50% Of Business Travel Vanishing In Post-COVID World


  • We will go to office, do business travel, but dramatically less: Gates
  • Airlines in the U.S. are focusing on leisure travelers as business travel has collapsed
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged more than $350M to battle COVID-19

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said that the coronavirus has overhauled the way people travel for business and how workplaces function. The effects will last even after the pandemic is over, he added.

During The New York Times’ Dealbook conference, Gates said, “My prediction would be that over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office will go away.”

With almost all companies enabling work from home for employees, Gates believes that there will be a “very high threshold” for business trips. “We will go to the office somewhat, we will do some business travel, but dramatically less,” he said.

Major tech companies including Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter have announced permanent work-from-home policies for their employees. Cloud company Dropbox has also implemented a flexible working-days policy through its “Virtual First” policy.

Talking during the virtual conference with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Gates said he has already attended five virtual roundtable discussions with pharmaceutical executives this year, something that would have been an in-person affair in New York usually.

In a new podcast, “Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions,” Gates said he was “embarrassed to admit” that he likes some parts of the work-from-home situation. He said he had “a much simpler schedule” now that he is not traveling for business, and he has not been to a physical office since March.

Gates’ comments are in line with the devastated airline industry across the world, especially hit by the absence of business travel. According to industry group Airlines for America, business travel accounted for 30% of the trips, but contributed more than half of U.S. airlines’ revenue.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been working during the pandemic to deliver the vaccine, when it becomes available, to those in need. The foundation has pledged more than $350 million in global support response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Nov. 12, the company announced new commitments worth $70 million for global efforts to develop and distribute affordable and timely vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.

“Ending this pandemic will require the largest public health effort in history. It will have to be well-coordinated, well-funded, and global,” Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement.

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, seen here in October 2019, has been a top target of Russian-backed conspiracy theories, according to a US report Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, seen here in October 2019, has been a top target of Russian-backed conspiracy theories, according to a US report Photo: AFP / JEFF PACHOUD

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Bill Gates says more than 50% of business travel will disappear in post-coronavirus world

  • Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said Tuesday that he predicts over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office will go away in the pandemic’s aftermath.
  • Moving forward, Gates predicted that there will be a “very high threshold” for conducting business trips and there will always be a way to work from home.

Bill Gates in glasses looking at the camera

© Provided by CNBC
Bill Gates

The coronavirus will fundamentally alter the way people travel for and conduct business, even after the pandemic is over, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said Tuesday.


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“My prediction would be that over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office will go away,” Gates told Andrew Ross Sorkin during the New York Times’ Dealbook conference.

Moving forward, Gates predicted that there will be a “very high threshold” for conducting business trips now that working from home is more feasible. However, some companies may be more extreme with their efforts to reduce in-person meetings than others, he said.

Gates, whose foundation has been working to deliver a coronavirus vaccine to people most in need, said during a new podcast, “Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions,” that he’s had a “simpler schedule” due to the pandemic now that he doesn’t travel for business.

The philanthropist and tech executive, who appeared alongside Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla during the livestreamed conference on Tuesday, said he’s already held five virtual roundtables this year with pharma executives — a meeting that’s usually held in person in New York.

“We will go to the office somewhat, we’ll do some business travel, but dramatically less,” Gates said.

The pandemic has devastated air travel demand, particularly for lucrative business trips. Business travelers before the virus accounted for half of U.S. airlines’ revenue, but just 30% of the trips, according to Airlines for America, an industry group that represents most U.S. carriers.

However, Microsoft executives have predicted that business trips will make a rebound, even as the company moves to make air travel more sustainable.

“We believe that as we return to the skies, the travel routes we’ve had … will resume at the level they had been before,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business, said in October.

— CNBC’s Leslie Josephs contributed to this report.

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