First flights leave Chinese city Xi’an as travel curbs ease | News


BEIJING (AP) — The first commercial airline flights in one month took off Saturday from Xi’an in western China as the government eased travel curbs imposed after a coronavirus outbreak ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Seven planes took off, according to the website of Xi’an Xianyang International Airport. It said four were due to arrive Sunday.

Access to Xi’an, a city of 13 million people about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Beijing, was suspended Dec. 22 following an outbreak attributed to the coronavirus’s delta variant.

The ruling Communist Party has stepped up enforcement of its “zero tolerance” strategy that aims to keep the virus out of China by finding and isolating every infected person. It suspended access to Xi’an and other cities after outbreaks were found.

Nationwide, China reported 63 new confirmed infections in the 24 hours through midnight Friday. That included 10 in Beijing and six in the neighboring port city of Tianjin.

China’s official death toll stands at 4,636 out of 105,547 confirmed cases.

Xi’an has reported 2,053 cases since Dec. 9. None were reported Friday.

Airline passengers who want to leave Xi’an are required to show a negative test within the past 48 hours, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said people from areas deemed at high risk for infection were barred from the airport.

Authorities said Jan. 16 restrictions on low-risk areas of Xi’an had been lifted at least in part. People who had been confined to their homes in other areas were allowed out to buy daily necessities.

The severity of the lockdown on Xi’an prompted complaints about food shortages. A pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage outside a hospital after being refused admission, reportedly because she lacked a valid virus test.

Authorities have called on the public to stay where they are during the Lunar New Year instead of traveling to their hometowns for the year’s most important family holiday.

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First flights leave Chinese city Xi’an as travel curbs ease


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A worker wearing a protective suit swabs for a COVID-19 test in northern China’s Tianjin municipality, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Officials are still working to eliminate a coronavirus outbreak in the nearby city of Tianjin as the 2022 Winter Olympics are set to begin in Beijing on Feb. 4. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — The first commercial airline flights in one month took off Saturday from Xi’an in western China as the government eased travel curbs imposed after a coronavirus outbreak ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Seven planes took off, according to the website of Xi’an Xianyang International Airport. It said four were due to arrive Sunday.

Access to Xi’an, a city of 13 million people about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Beijing, was suspended Dec. 22 following an outbreak attributed to the coronavirus’s delta variant.

The ruling Communist Party has stepped up enforcement of its “zero tolerance” strategy that aims to keep the virus out of China by finding and isolating every infected person. It suspended access to Xi’an and other cities after outbreaks were found.

Nationwide, China reported 63 new confirmed infections in the 24 hours through midnight Friday. That included 10 in Beijing and six in the neighboring port city of Tianjin.

China’s official death toll stands at 4,636 out of 105,547 confirmed cases.

Xi’an has reported 2,053 cases since Dec. 9. None were reported Friday.

Airline passengers who want to leave Xi’an are required to show a negative test within the past 48 hours, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said people from areas deemed at high risk for infection were barred from the airport.

Authorities said Jan. 16 restrictions on low-risk areas of Xi’an had been lifted at least in part. People who had been confined to their homes in other areas were allowed out to buy daily necessities.

The severity of the lockdown on Xi’an prompted complaints about food shortages. A pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage outside a hospital after being refused admission, reportedly because she lacked a valid virus test.

Authorities have called on the public to stay where they are during the Lunar New Year instead of traveling to their hometowns for the year’s most important family holiday.



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Latest news updates: Travel stocks lead gains in Australia as fears ease over Omicron severity


Travel stocks lead gains in Australia as fears ease over Omicron severity

A board displays Qantas Airways flights at the company’s headquarters in Sydney
A board displays Qantas Airways flights at the company’s headquarters in Sydney © Bloomberg

Travel stocks led a rally in Australian equities on Tuesday after investors reacted to headlines that the new Omicron variant of coronavirus might be less severe than feared.

Shares in Qantas, Australia’s flag carrier, gained as much as 5 per cent, while travel groups Flight Centre and Corporate Travel Management both rose more than 6 per cent.

The increases, alongside strong gains for payments company Zip, helped pushed Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 up as much as 0.9 per cent.

Anthony Fauci, the top US health official, on Sunday called early signals about the severity of Omicron “encouraging”, telling CNN “we feel certain that there will be some degree and maybe a considerable degree of protection” with booster jabs.

Australia’s rally was followed by stocks in Japan, where the Topix gained as much as 0.8 per cent. In South Korea, the Kospi dipped, notching losses of up to 0.4 per cent.

Futures in mainland China edged higher and were up 1.7 per cent in Hong Kong, where markets closed 1.8 per cent lower on Monday.

What to watch in Asia today

Japan: The country announces its household spending figures for October, an important gauge of activity and confidence in the economy. It is forecast to be 2.8 per cent higher than in September, but still 3.9 per cent lower than October last year.

Australia: The Reserve Bank of Australia makes its monetary policy decision today, setting the country’s cash rate target. It will also deliver its assessment of the country’s current economic situation in its monetary policy statement. The target is forecast to remain unchanged, at 0.1 per cent, where it has been set since November 2020.

Markets: Wall Street equities rose on Monday, led higher by travel stocks, as fears that the Omicron coronavirus variant would lead to fresh lockdowns eased. The broad-based S&P 500 index rose 1.2 per cent on Monday, after closing down 0.8 per cent on Friday. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite index closed 0.9 per cent higher on Monday. Australian stocks rose in early trading while futures in Hong Kong were up.

Travel stocks lead Wall Street higher as markets reassess Omicron risks

Wall Street equities rose on Monday, led higher by travel stocks, as concerns the Omicron coronavirus variant would lead to fresh lockdowns eased.

The broad-based S&P 500 index rose 1.2 per cent on Monday, after closing 0.8 per cent lower on Friday.

Travel-related stocks rallied with shares in Norwegian Cruise Line, United Airlines, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival all rising by more than 8 per cent.

Dr Anthony Fauci, US president Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, on Sunday called early signals about the severity of Omicron “encouraging”.

He told CNN that “we feel certain that there will be some degree and maybe a considerable degree of protection” with booster jabs. Market swings about Omicron are likely while scientists await conclusive data.

The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite index closed 0.9 per cent higher on Monday. The narrower gain continued a trend over the past fortnight, in which the Nasdaq has trailed the S&P 500.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 0.09 percentage points to 1.43 per cent as the price of the debt fell.

Read more on the day’s market moves here.

Saudi Aramco to raise $15.5bn by selling stake in natural gas pipeline business

Saudi Aramco sign at the oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia
The sale is Aramco’s second big pipeline deal this year © Reuters

Saudi Aramco announced a deal to raise $15.5bn by selling a minority stake in a newly formed gas pipeline venture to a consortium of investors.

The world’s largest oil producer said on Monday it would sell the stake to a group led by BlackRock and the investment management arm of the General Organization for Social Insurance, a Saudi government body.

The transaction marks Aramco’s second big pipeline deal this year as it tries to monetise assets to generate cash for the government, its main shareholder.

The announcement followed a call earlier in the day from the company’s chief executive, speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Houston, for global leaders to continue investing in fossil fuels in the years ahead or run the risk of spiralling inflation and social unrest that would force them to jettison emissions targets.

Read more on Saudi Aramco’s warning here.

BuzzFeed shares endure volatile debut on the Nasdaq

BuzzFeed’s first hours of trading as a listed company proved volatile, with shares swinging into negative territory from an early gain of more than 50 per cent.

The media group went public on Monday through a merger with a blank cheque company, or Spac, from which most of the investors in that vehicle had pulled their money out before the listing.

BuzzFeed shares jumped as much as 53.5 per cent to an intraday high of $14.77 in the first hour of trading on Monday. By late morning, they hit $8, representing a 16.8 per cent drop from the Spac’s adjusted closing price on Friday of $9.62.

Shares were down 8.9 per cent in late-afternoon trading.

Spacs had been one of the hottest products on Wall Street earlier this year, but have more recently fallen out of favour with investors.



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Schumer calls for feds to ease gas prices ahead of holiday travel


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — With gas prices continuing to climb across the United States, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) is calling for the federal government to tap into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to reduce prices at the pump ahead of holiday travel.

Schumer called on the Biden administration to move forward with sales from this reserve, noting consumers need immediate relief from rising gas prices caused, in part, by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s shock to the global supply chain.

“COVID has wreaked havoc on all of our supply chains, no industry spared, with fuel supply and prices at the top of the list,” said Schumer in a news release. “Consumers need immediate relief at the gas pump, and so I am urging the administration to approve fuel sales from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve. The plan is not a cure-all, because we also need a real solution to this problem of price shocks from wildly fluctuating fossil fuels, but it can help ease prices ahead of holiday travel.”

He pointed to AAA, which reported that the national average gas price currently is $3.41, up from $2.12 a year ago at this time.

The senator explained there needs to be a real solution to the issue, and that implementing Build Back Better would help all Americans move off the dependence on fossil fuels to cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable electric cars and appliances. In the meantime, he said, tapping some of the reserves’ 600 million barrels can help pump relief at current prices.

“Bottom line, we must implement Build Back Better to help all Americans move off our dependence on fossil fuels to cleaner, cheaper and more reliable electric cars and appliances. The Build Back Better Act includes my ‘Clean Cars for America’ program, which would make electric cars cheaper than gas cars, and would allow consumers to worry less and less about rising gas prices,” Schumer added.

The SPR is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil, according to the SPR website. It was established to reduce the impact of disruptions in supplies of petroleum products and to out obligations of the United States under the international energy program. The oil is stored underground at different sites along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico.

The SPR can hold 714 million barrels of oil. Currently, it’s holding approximately 600 million barrels.

An emergency withdrawal from the SPR has only occurred three times in its history. The first was in 1991 during President George H. W. Bush’s administration’s Operation Desert Storm and the second was in 2005 as part of President George W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

The third and most recent withdrawal was in 2011, as part of a response to a loss of crude oil due to supply disruptions in various countries.

Schumer said the COVID-19 pandemic’s supply chain disruptions should warrant an SPR withdrawal.

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Lufthansa Jumps Back to Profit as Travel Restrictions Ease | Investing News


BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Lufthansa posted a return to operating profit in the third quarter on Thursday for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, boosted by the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions and strong demand in the summer season.

The group reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax of 17 million euros ($19.69 million) in the quarter, compared to a loss of 1.262 billion euros a year ago.

Analysts in a company-provided poll had expected an adjusted EBIT loss of 33 million euros.

Third-quarter revenue almost doubled to 5.2 billion euros, compared to an average analyst forecast for 5.5 billion.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, editing by Emma Thomasson)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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UC San Diego to ease COVID-19 travel guidance for students heading home for Thanksgiving


With the pandemic surging nationally, UC San Diego implored students to get tested for COVID-19 last November before they left for the Thanksgiving holiday to avoid unwittingly spreading the virus during family get-togethers.

Infection rates are now declining in much of the country and the message is far different at San Diego County’s largest university.

“We’re going to be a bit more permissive this time since we have our students pushing 96-percent vaxxed and are merely having them test on return and 5 days later — or for symptoms,” said Dr. Robert “Chip” Schooley, director of the school’s Return to Learn campaign.

The University of California system requires all students, faculty and staff who access its campuses to get vaccinated against the virus.

UCSD was among the first major universities in the country last year to broadly test students, faculty and staff for COVID-19. That helped to produce an infection rate that has remained low. As of October 31, the rate among students was 0.23 percent.

The university has managed to keep the rate low even though enrollment rose by nearly 2,400 this fall, hitting a record 42,875.





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International travel restrictions: Working groups to help determine when U.S. will ease rules


The coalition, led by the U.S. Travel Association and Airlines for America, argues that the nation has made significant strides in fighting the virus and that other measures, including requirements that international travelers show proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding U.S.-bound flights and wear masks on airplanes and in airports, are enough to ensure the safe reopening of travel.



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EU Could Further Ease Travel Restrictions for the Vaccinated


Europe is looking to make travel easier for those who are vaccinated.

European Union countries are working to agree on how to ease pandemic travel restrictions within and into the bloc as vaccination levels increase, according to Bloomberg.

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The report noted that the EU could scrap its traffic light system and allow vaccinated travelers to travel freely using a digital Covid passport.

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Reopening from COVID-19

The EU digital Covid allows travelers to cross borders without having to take tests or quarantine and shows if a person has been fully vaccinated or has recovered from Covid-19.

“Given the very sizable impact on the exercise of free movement, persons traveling within the EU should in principle no longer be required to quarantine save for very exceptional situations (e.g. new variants of concern),” the European Commission proposal says.

There is a secondary proposal that refines the data used to produce the traffic light ratings and would encourage the implementation of more standardized rules for handling travelers in each zone.

The proposal also preserves the use of the “emergency brake” if new variants emerge.

For the latest insight on travel around the world, check out this interactive guide:



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