Spain’s health minister says the European country has detected 11 cases of the new strain of the coronavirus first identified in India. Minister Carolina Darias says the cases were two separate outbreaks discovered by health officials in recent days.
She added a plane carrying medical supplies, including oxygen and breathing machines, for hard-hit India will leave on Thursday. Last week, Spain’s government approved a shipment of seven tons of medical supplies to help India combat it surging wave of infections.
Britain’s borders will reopen for international travel in just over two weeks, with “a handful” of approved countries set to be part of Europe’s “green” travel list.
According to The Sun, sunseekers looking for a European break this month can head to Gibraltar or Malta, which are just two idyllic locations set to be included on the green list for quarantine-free travel after May 17 – due to be announced this Friday.
A handful of countries will be given coveted green status in a new travel traffic light system based on jab rollout and COVID rates – meaning Brits can visit with just two tests on their return.
Outside of Europe, Australia, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand and Malta are all likely to be on the green travel list, but holiday favourites Spain and Greece will have to likely wait until a review in June, sources say.
They are likely to be on the “amber” list meaning people can visit but they will have to quarantine for 10 days when they return to the UK.
But insiders think most top destinations including France will be given the green travel go-ahead by the school summer holidays in July.
One of the UK’s top doctor’s, Jonathan Van Tam, will present country data to ministers on Tuesday local time as they meet to approve the first tranche of green and amber countries.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due to unveil the full list on Friday – with travel industry bosses braced for a flurry of bookings this weekend.
Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his medical advisers were “confident” the current coronavirus case data means they can push ahead for the May 17 unlocking milestone that will see a slow return to travel for leisure.
Travel destinations will be ranked green, amber or red according to virus risk, Downing Street said in a statement late Saturday, with the government to provide more details on Monday. International travel is currently banned except for a handful of permitted reasons.
“We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country … as safely as possible,” Mr Johnson said.
The government said the new system “will help ensure the UK’s vaccine progress isn’t jeopardised and provide clear guidance for travellers”.
The British government will implement the traffic light system of risk that will see the world carved up into green, amber or red zones based on vaccine rollout and case rates, as well as new variants found.
Insiders warn only a “handful” of countries will be approved for low-risk green quarantine-free travel in the first round.
Other countries rumoured to be on the green list based on their vaccination success include the US.
While green zones mean quarantine-free travel, people heading to those countries will need to take one pre-departure coronavirus test up to 72 hours before returning to the UK (type unspecified).
Entry by travellers from “red list” countries will continue to be outlawed, with anyone coming through those countries forced to quarantine at their own expense in a government-approved hotel when they arrive.
They will be required to take a COVID-19 test on day eight after their return.
There are approximately 40 countries on the red list released by the UK government, including India, which logged 400,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day on Friday, local time, is on the red list.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
In New Zealand, Aurora is the most-searched for name for girls, followed by Luna, Ivy, Hazel and Mabel.
For the boys, Arlo is also the top choice there followed by Asher, Felix, Leo and Milo.
In the US, Silas is the top search for boys while Luna remains the most popular searched name for girls.
Like Australia, in the UK both Luna and Arlo are the top-searched girls’ and boys’ names on Nameberry.
But the other names in the top five searches for girls are all different, with Luna followed by Ophelia, Elodie, Iris and Maeve, while the boys’ top five are rounded out by Oscar, Hugo, Albie and Atticus.
A large piece of space debris, possibly weighing several tonnes, is currently on an uncontrolled re-entry phase (that’s space speak for “out of control”), and parts of it are expected to crash down to Earth over the next few weeks.
If that isn’t worrying enough, it is impossible to predict exactly where the pieces that don’t burn up in the atmosphere might land. Given the object’s orbit, the possible landing points are anywhere in a band of latitudes “a little farther north than New York, Madrid and Beijing, and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand”.
The debris is part of the Long March 5B rocket that recently successfully launched China’s first module for its proposed space station. The incident comes roughly a year after another similar Chinese rocket fell to Earth, landing in the Atlantic Ocean but not before it reportedly left a trail of debris in the African nation of Cote D’Ivoire.
At the time, experts noted this was one of the largest pieces of human-made debris ever to fall to Earth. We cannot say with certainty what fate awaits this latest piece of space junk.
Litter from space
Australia already holds the record in the category of “who can be hit by the biggest piece of space junk”. In 1979, the 77-tonne US space station SkyLab disintegrated over Western Australia, peppering the area around the southern coastal town of Esperance with fragments.
At the time, the event was met with excitement and a sense of lightheartedness, and many pieces were collected by space enthusiasts. Esperance Shire Council flippantly issued NASA with a fine for littering, and a US radio station later raised enough money to pay the debt.
Although there have been no recorded deaths or serious injuries from people being hit by space debris, that’s no reason to think it’s not dangerous. Just one year before SkyLab’s demise, a Soviet remote sensing (spy) satellite, Cosmos 954, plummeted into a barren region of Canada’s Northwest Territories, spreading radioactive debris over several hundred square kilometres.
With the Cold War at its height, the sensitivity of the nuclear technology on board Cosmos 954 led to an unfortunate delay in locating and cleaning up the wreckage, because of the distrust between the Soviet Union and the Canadian/US recovery effort.
The clean-up operation took months but located only a portion of the debris. Canada billed the Soviet Union more than $C6 million, having spent millions more, but was ultimately paid just half the amount.
Since the late 1970s, pieces of space debris have fallen to Earth regularly and are viewed with increasing concern. Of course, more than 70 per cent of the planet is covered by oceans, and only a minuscule fraction of the remaining 30 per cent is covered by your house. But for anyone falling foul of the extremely long odds, the consequences would be truly disastrous.
It was just a quirk of fate that Cosmos 954 did not land on Toronto or Quebec City, where the radioactive fallout would have necessitated a large-scale evacuation. In 2007, pieces of debris from a Russian satellite narrowly missed a Chilean passenger plane flying between Santiago and Auckland. As we send more objects into space, the chances of a calamitous crash-landing will only increase.
Who pays to clean up the mess, anyway?
International law sets out a compensation regime that would apply in many circumstances of damage on Earth, as well as when satellites collide in space. The 1972 Liability Convention, a UN treaty, imposes liability on “launching states” for damage caused by their space objects, which includes an absolute liability regime when they crash to Earth as debris.
In the case of the Long March 5B, this would impose potential liability on China. The treaty has only been invoked once before (for the Cosmos 954 incident) and therefore may not be regarded as a powerful disincentive. However, it is likely to come into play in the future in a more crowded space environment, and with more uncontrolled re-entries. Of course, this legal framework applies only after the damage occurs.
Other international guidelines regarding debris mitigation and long-term sustainability of space activities set out voluntary standards intended to limit the probability of collisions in space, and minimise the break-up of satellites either during or after their missions.
Some satellites can be moved into a graveyard orbit at the end of their operational life. While this works well for certain specific orbits at a relatively high altitude, it is impractical and hazardous to start moving the vast majority of satellites around between orbital planes. Most of the millions of pieces of space junk are destined either to orbit in an uncontrollable manner for many years or, if they are in low Earth orbit, to gradually descend towards the Earth, hopefully burning up in the atmosphere before contact with terra firma.
A globally co-ordinated space traffic management system will be vital to avoid collisions that would result in loss of control of satellites, leaving them to tumble helplessly in orbit or fall back to Earth.
Comprehensively tracking every satellite’s movement and functionality is even harder than it sounds, because it would inevitably require countries to be willing to share information they often currently regard as confidential matters of national security.
But, ultimately, global co-operation is essential if we are to avoid an unsustainable future for our space activities. In the meantime, don’t forget to gaze upwards every now and then – you might spot some of the most spectacular litter on the planet.
Madrid residents on Tuesday handed a resounding victory to the region’s hardline leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso who has soared in prominence for stubbornly resisting virus restrictions.
With nearly all the votes counted, the results showed a solid win for Ayuso, a rising star in the right-wing Popular Party (PP), who won almost 45 percent of the votes, handing a stinging defeat to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists.
“Today begins a new chapter in the history of Spain,” a teary-eyed Ayuso declared in her victory speech, her words echoing that of PP chief Pablo Casado who declared the result to be “a turning point for national politics”.
With 95 percent of the votes counted, Ayuso more than doubled her party’s showing in the 2019 ballot, winning 65 of the regional parliament’s 136 seats, while the Socialists shed 13 seats to secure just 24.
Falling shy of an absolute majority of 69 seats, the 42-year-old will be forced to seek support to rule from the far-right Vox which secured 13 seats — an option she has said “wouldn’t be the end of the world”.
With the left facing with a major defeat, Pablo Iglesias, head of the far-left Podemos, junior partner in Spain’s ruling coalition, announced he was stepping down from politics.
“We have failed, we have been very far from putting together a sufficient majority,” he said, just seven weeks after standing down as deputy prime minister to run as his party’s candidate in a risky gamble he ultimately lost.
“When you are no longer useful, you need to know when to withdraw,” he admitted.
Although the party secured more votes than last time, with just 10 seats it will remain a minor player in the regional parliament while its hard-left rival Mas Madrid secured 24.
Heroine of hospitality
At the helm of Spain’s richest region for just over 18 months, Ayuso has been one of the leading critics of Sanchez’s leftist government and its handling of the pandemic.
An outspoken hardliner, she has won widespread support for resisting government pressure to impose tighter restrictions on the local economy.
Madrid is the only major European capital that has kept bars, restaurants and theatres open since the national lockdown ended in June 2020.
Just over 5.1 million people were eligible to vote in Tuesday’s election, which comes after a bitterly-fought and divisive campaign in a region that has been ruled by the PP for 26 years.
From the early hours, there were long queues outside polling stations, with turnout standing at 76 percent, some 11 percentage points higher than 2019.
Although Madrid has suffered Spain’s highest numbers of infections and deaths, Ayuso consistently defied calls to shut bars and restaurants, with the hospitality sector regarding her as a heroine.
‘Beer is important’
Her call for a snap election caught the political establishment by surprise but was an astute move aimed at cashing in on the political capital she had clearly accrued.
With “freedom” her campaign slogan, the populist leader focused on people’s need for normality, despite the pandemic.
“Having beers is important,” she said last month. “After a bad day, a beer cheers you up.”
Although critics had said her lax restrictions had ultimately cost lives in a region where almost 15,000 coronavirus patients have died — one in five of Spain’s overall toll of 78,000 — her business-focused approach paid off at the polls.
“Ayuso deserves to be loved for what she’s done in keeping bars open and saving jobs,” said 63-year-old civil servant Jose Luis Cordon after casting his ballot for the PP.
Although the left had tried to warn voters about Ayuso’s likely tie-up with Vox, their words appeared to fall on deaf ears.
Despite the left taking a drubbing, analysts said it wouldn’t have a major impact on Spain’s ruling coalition, although it would likely exacerbate the antagonism between the PP and the government.
India’s upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League away fixtures against Spain and Germany later this month have been postponed due to the international travel restrictions imposed in the wake of surging COVID-19 cases in the Asian country, the world body (FIH) informed on Tuesday. The Indian men’s hockey team was scheduled to play against Spain on May 15 and 16, followed by the two-leg tie in Germany on May 23 and 24.
“FIH, Hockey India as well as the Hockey National Associations of Germany, Spain and Great Britain since the matches initially planned in London on 8-9 May were also postponed – are currently looking at all potential options to rearrange these matches at a later date,” the International Hockey Federation (FIH) said in a statement.
“On behalf of the global hockey community, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) would like to express its support and strong sympathy to the Indian hockey community, as well as their families and friends. At this very hard time for India, a country so much linked to the history as well as the current development of hockey, our thoughts are with all Indian people,” it added.
Last month, India’s FIH Hockey Pro League matches against Great Britain, scheduled for May 8-9 in London, were postponed following the UK government’s decision to add India to the travel ‘red list’ due to the surging COVID-19 cases there. With India recording more than 3 lakh COVID-19 cases and 3,000 deaths daily for quite some time now, most of the foreign countries, including Australia, Malaysia, Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, UK etc, have suspended international flights from the country.
India is currently fourth in the FIH Pro League standings with 15 points from eight matches behind Netherlands, Germany and leaders Belgium.
Madrid votes Tuesday in an early regional election the incumbent conservative Popular Party is expected to win comfortably, dealing a blow to Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the outgoing leader of the key Madrid regional administration, has consistently pushed back against central government pressure to impose tighter virus restrictions.
The 42-year-old rising star in the PP argues keeping the economy afloat and preserving social interaction is also important for health.
On her watch, Madrid has had Spain‘s lightest virus restrictions. It has been the only major European capital to keep bars, restaurants and theatres open with few restrictions since a nationwide lockdown ended in mid-2020.
“Having beers is important,” Diaz Ayuso Ser radio station last month. “After a bad day a beer cheers you up.” She has been campaigning under the slogan “Freedom”.
Critics however say her lax restrictions have come at too high a price.
They point out that Madrid has the highest percentage of intensive care beds occupied by Covid-19 patients in the country, at nearly 45 percent — and one of the country’s highest infection rates.
Just over 5.1 million people are eligible to vote in the election in Spain’s richest region, which has been governed by the PP since 1995.
Polling stations open at 9:00 am (0700 GMT), closing at 8:00 pm, with results expected several hours later.
Final opinion polls give the PP party around 40-percent support, almost double their result in the May 2019 election.
That would put them well ahead of the Socialists, whose backing in the opinion poll had dropped to 20 percent from just over 27 percent in 2019.
Depending on the scale of her victory Diaz Ayuso may yet still need the support of far-right Vox party to govern. That would not be “the end of the world”, she has said.
Leftist parties have sought to rally their voters by warning of the dangers of the PP governing with anti-immigrant Vox.
During the Socialist party final campaign rally on Sunday night, Sanchez repeated his warning that “our democracy” was at stake in the elections.
The campaign has also seen anonymous death threat letters with bullets sent to top politicians, including Diaz Ayuso and the leader of far-left party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias.
Podemos is the junior partner in Sanchez’s minority coalition government and Iglesias stepped down as a deputy prime minister in Sanchez’s coalition government to run as the party’s candidate.
The early election was called by Diaz Ayuso in March after she broke up her ruling coalition with the centrist Ciudadanos party, which is expected to struggle to win any seats in this election.
Liverpool in the UK held a two-day mini-festival over the weekend, which saw around 5,000 attendees flock to the city’s Sefton Park, while on Friday night, the city hosted a club night at a warehouse on the docks. These are just the latest events testing whether it is safe for large crowds to gather in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic – and may be the first sign of a long awaited return to nightlife and live music.
In 2020, an unprecedented 23,000 migrants made the seaborne journey from northwestern Africa to the Canary Islands. However, in recent months, the Spanish archipelago has become a dead end, with migrants finding themselves stuck in overcrowded centres in which uncertainty and lack of support have generated tensions. In mid-April, several migrants contacted our editorial staff to testify.
In response to amounts of migrant arrivals unseen since 2006, the Spanish government introduced its ‘Canary Plan’ in November 2020 with the objective of creating 7,000 migrant shelters on the islands of Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Tenerife.
However, according to a report by Amnesty International Spain published on April 23 2021, the living conditions on the archipelago remain worrying and even “shameful” in some centres.
3⃣: Hombres, mujeres y niños/as permanecen en condiciones deleznables en La Nave del Queso: sin mínimas medidas de higiene, sin libertad, hacinados/as, en unas circunstancias que podrían considerarse de infrahumanas. #AcogidaDignahttps://t.co/jxEJ38D58o
‘I have applied for asylum but I still have no news about the outcome’
Ahmed (not his real name) is a Guinean asylum seeker who arrived in the Canary Islands on 16 October 2020. He spent several months in a hotel before being transferred to the El Matorral camp on the island of Fuerteventura in February. The centre, which can hold up to 648 people, was opened as part of the ‘Canary Plan’ by the Red Cross.
Ahmed sent us some photos from inside the camp in mid-April.
We are crammed inside our tents. At night, it’s cold. To eat, we have to queue for almost an hour to get a tiny portion of food. We have tried to get information by asking questions like, ‘When are we going to get out of here?’ and ‘Why have some people already left?’. I have applied for asylum, but I have no news about my case. There have already been clashes between sub-Saharans and Moroccans because of the queues for food. On March 15, about 30 of us organised a march to ask for help and to leave this camp.
On social networks, several organisations and groups, under the umbrella of the Fuerteventura Migrant Aid Network, have documented the situation in this camp. Javier, who is a member of this network, explained the problems migrants face:
There is a lack of health and psychological care, as well as a lack of legal assistance. There is sometimes only one person in charge of the legal follow-up of 500 people in the Matorral camp.
Meanwhile, in local media, the Red Cross has claimed it has set up “Spanish courses, legal assistance and psychological assistance”. The organisation has insisted that the conditions in the El Matorral camp are dignified “if it’s only for a limited stay”.
‘La Nave del Queso’: a criticised quarantine centre
On March 31, a Covid-19 case was detected in Matorral camp. In order to quarantine, 100 people were transferred to another centre called La Nave del Queso in Puerto del Rosario, the capital of the island of Fuerteventura.
Ahmed was part of this group of people who were transferred. In this shed, several spaces have been divided by sheets and fences. The migrants sleep on bunk beds, sometimes very close to the toilets and showers of the building site. “It’s worse than in Matorral: we don’t eat well, and there’s not enough water. I don’t know how long we’re going to stay here,” said Ahmed.
Another Guinean asylum seeker, Issa (not her real name), who arrived in the Canary Islands in September 2020 to then be transferred to the Nave del Queso, added:
There are more than 200 of us. I’ve already taken two PCR tests but they take people out in pairs or in groups of three. I’m on the verge of suicide.
The Nave del Queso centre has also been criticised by Amnesty International Spain, which has condemned it as a place that does not meet “minimum sanitary conditions”, where men, women and children have been “deprived of their freedom”, in some cases for almost a month.
On April 12, a police intervention took place in this quarantine centre after a group of migrants demanded to be released. Seven Senegalese people were arrested. On April 24, after much criticism, the authorities announced the “progressive closure” of the Nave del Queso and released 21 women and four minors.
‘Some people are self-harming’
Violent scenes have also taken place in other centres in the archipelago, such as on April 5 in the “macro-camp” of Las Raices, that houses almost 1,500 people on the island of Tenerife. Eight people were taken into custody. Images released by the Tenerife Migrant Aid Assembly showed blood trails on the stairs leading to the centre’s medical centre.
According to Roberto Mesa, a spokesperson for the assembly, the violence could be avoided:
In the Las Raices camp, nearly 30 people of different nationalities are in the same tent. There can be misunderstandings. When migrants ask for help, they are told “tomorrow, tomorrow”. The policy is unpredictable: some have been able to leave for mainland Spain by buying a ticket themselves, others have applied for asylum and hold a passport but are still without a solution [since April 14 , a court decision allows migrants holding a passport or an application for international protection to travel to the mainland on their own, but according to NGOs, the implementation of this decision is very unpredictable and some migrants do not have the means to buy a ticket – editor’s note.] Some leave shortly after arriving, others do not. All this generates a lot of frustration. We have seen young people change psychologically, some of them self-harm. If there were more translators, doctors, lawyers and psychologists, we could avoid some of the tensions.
Since the beginning of the migration crisis, NGOs have warned that the Canary Islands are becoming a “prison” for migrants.
According to the Canary Islands government, this is not the case. In mid-April, the government delegate of the Canary Islands said that many migrants who had reached the archipelago were being transferred to other regions, sent back to their countries of origin or left to their own devices. The amount of migrants in each case has not been communicated, but only 5,000 remain in the structures set up by the Ministry of Migration. Almost 2,000 minors are also on the archipelago and are under the responsibility of the Canary Islands government.
However, according to various organisations that we contacted, the number of migrants stranded on the archipelago could be a lot higher, especially because informal camps have formed on the islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Fuerteventura. Many homeless people have fled the reception centres, either because of the poor conditions inside the camps or because they fear deportation.
In 2021, people continue to arrive in the Canary Islands, but at a lower rate. From January to mid-April, 3,980 migrants reached the shores of this Spanish archipelago.
The bodies of three Europeans killed in Burkina Faso were flown to Spain on Friday, with Madrid pledging to keep up a “relentless” fight against the jihadist insurgency raging in Africa’s Sahel region.
The two Spanish journalists and an Irish wildlife activist were ambushed during an anti-poaching patrol in the impoverished West African nation which has been struggling with a surge in Islamist attacks since 2015.
Journalists David Beriain and Roberto Fraile were with Rory Young, head of the Chengeta Wildlife group, in the Arly National Park in eastern Burkina Faso when the attack occurred on Monday.
They were with a group that included soldiers and forest rangers when the assailants turned up in pickup trucks and on motorbikes, with the three Europeans initially reported missing.
The Burkina authorities said they had been “executed by terrorists”, becoming the latest victims of the ruthless Islamist insurgency gripping one of the poorest countries in the world.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya and Defence Minister Margarita Robles were on the tarmac at Torrejon de Ardoz airbase as three wooden coffins were carried off the plane by 24 air force officers.
“These are the heroes of the day: David and Robert, who have done so much to give a voice to those who do not have one, who have done so much to shed light on the realities that surround us and that are sometimes invisible,” Gonzalez Laya said.
The pair had been working on a documentary on conservation in Burkina Faso.
The Irish ambassador to Spain, Sile Maguire, was also at the airbase.
Young’s body was to be flown back to Ireland later on Friday, the Spanish foreign ministry told AFP, without giving further details.
‘We will be relentless’
Hailing the pair for “doing so much to give a voice to the voiceless,” Gonzalez Laya said the government was posthumously awarding them the Order of Civil Merit “for their work in pursuit of a journalism that enhances our democracy”.
The violence had highlighted the importance of Spain’s continued involvement in “efforts for peace and stability” in the war-torn Sahel region, she said.
Extending condolences to the families who were also at the airport but not on the tarmac, Robles said Spain would do “everything possible to find out who was behind these appalling acts”.
She vowed that Spain would press ahead with efforts to help those fighting the Islamist insurgency in the region.
“The fight against terror in these areas is not going to stop, we will be relentless,” she said.
Hotbed of lawlessness
Burkina, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger have joined forces in a French-backed alliance called the G5 Sahel to fight jihadism on the southern edge of the Sahara, with the initiative also backed by Spain, Germany and Italy.
In a joint statement on Friday, Spain, France, Germany and Italy pledged continued security support for nations in the Sahel region which stretches from Senegal to Sudan and has turned into a hotbed of lawlessness over the past decade.
“We will continue existing initiatives to support the armies of the region, as well as the gendarmerie and internal security forces in their operations, training and capacity building,” they said.
Since 2015, more than 1,300 people have been killed and one million have fled the violence in Burkina Faso, which has ravaged this land-locked nation’s once-vibrant tourist industry