Welcome to Monday, where the first Ukrainian grain ship leaves Odessa since the start of Russia’s invasion, while Putin previews a new “hypersonic” missile. Also, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi starts her high-profile Asian tour in Singapore as the K-pop band BTS gets special attention from South Korea’s defense minister. Meanwhile, even as much of the world loosens its pandemic-related restrictions, we have a warning about the growing risks of long COVID.
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• First grain ship leaves Ukraine, Putin touts new missile: For the first time since the beginning of the war, a Ukrainian ship carrying grain left the port of Odessa, heading for Lebanon under a new safe passage agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine on July 22, with the help of Turkey and the United Nations. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin used a Russian naval ceremony to unveil details of a new hypersonic missile he called “invincible.”
• Nancy Pelosi in Singapore, possible Taiwan visit still unclear: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional members have begun a high-profile Asian tour with a two-day stop in Singapore. The delegation plans to then visit Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. No mention was made of a possible stop in Taiwan, as she had planned in the past, which would be sure to raise U.S.-China tensions.
• Kosovo-Serbia standoff: Kosovo’s government has postponed for a month the implementation of new border rules that imposed people entering Kosovo with Serbians IDs to replace them with a temporary document. This decision had caused road blockades in the north of the country, where ethnic Serbs are a majority, and long simmering tensions are rising.
• Myanmar junta extends emergency rule: Myanmar’s junta has extended the emergency rule started in Feb. 2021 for another six months. The military has failed to implement a five-point consensus established by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to end hostilities.
• Iran able to build a bomb: Iran's atomic energy chief has said that the country is in the capacity of building a nuclear bomb but has no plan to. Such declarations by top officials are rare and are likely to prompt concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme amid difficulties to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
• New Zealand fully reopens borders: New Zealand is fully reopening its borders for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020. Visitors and students with visas, cruise ships and yachts will be allowed to enter the country without quarantine requirements.
• K-pop military exemption?: South Korea’s defense minister has declared that famous K-pop boy band BTS might be able to perform their shows abroad while doing their mandatory military service. Parliament is also debating a bill to shorten military service from 2 years to 3 weeks for international K-pop stars.
Today’s frontpage of The Boston Globe daily pays tribute to basketball legend Bill Russell, who died Sunday at the age of 88. Russel played as a center for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969 and won a record 11 NBA titles, before becoming the first Black basketball head coach in the U.S.
England’s women’s national soccer team won its first ever European Championship and major title after beating Germany 2-1 in front of a crowd of 87,192 fans at Wembley Stadium in London — a record turnout for a Euro final, men’s or women’s.
Risks of reinfection and long COVID: The pandemic is not over
Too many people no longer follow basic protocol: mask wearing, physical distancing and avoiding crowded events. The consequences are an increase in both daily case numbers and long COVID, writes John Donne Potter in The Conversation.
🦠 The latest Omicron variant BA.5 is fast becoming dominant worldwide, including in New Zealand and Australia. As it continues to surge, reinfection will become increasingly common and this in turn means more people will develop long COVID. The two most concerning aspects of long COVID are its high prevalence (up to 30% of those infected) and a link between reinfection and a higher risk of harmful outcomes.
😷 Some large studies in Denmark, England, and the U.S. show 20-30% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 experienced at least one post-acute symptom, up to 12 months after infection. Symptoms included loss of smell and taste, fatigue, shortness of breath, reduced limb strength, concentration difficulties, memory disturbance, sleep disturbance and mental or physical exhaustion.
💉 The pandemic and the silence conspired to confuse people about the efficacy of public-health measures and compliance dropped off even further. People drifted back to church and race meetings — and left masks at home. Public-health infrastructure collapsed. Vaccines (not available a century ago) are almost all that stands between us and a similar collapse. We would remain stronger and healthier — and reduce the burden of long COVID — if we increased vaccination coverage and universally adopted Japanese-style regular mask use and physical distancing.➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
The more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.
— In an overnight address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered the mandatory evacuation of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the eastern Donetsk region, where fighting is still raging.
✍️ Newsletter by Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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