Latest news updates: Number of UK retailers facing stock shortages hits 30-year high


South Korea’s economic growth slowed in the third quarter as strong exports were offset by weak domestic consumption due to the country’s toughest Covid-19 restrictions, clouding the Bank of Korea’s prospect for another rate increase this year.

Gross domestic product rose 0.3 per cent in the July-September period, decelerating from 0.8 per cent in the second quarter and missing a 0.6 per cent growth forecast in a Reuters survey.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy expanded 4 per cent from a year earlier, slowing sharply from 6 per cent growth in the second quarter, which was the fastest in a decade.

Weaker quarterly growth was widely expected as health authorities struggled to contain the country’s worst virus outbreak after daily infections surged above 1,000 from July. Exports rose 1.5 per cent in the third quarter from the previous quarter while private consumption fell 0.3 per cent.

The BoK told an online seminar on Monday that consumption was expected to pick up in the current quarter, helped by rising vaccinations and a transition to “living with Covid-19.” More than 70 per cent of the country’s 51m population has been fully vaccinated.

The bank has flagged China’s energy crunch and supply chain bottlenecks as downside risks for the Korean economy although exports remain robust. Overseas shipments jumped 36.1 per cent in the first 20 days of October from a year earlier, according to customs data.

BoK governor Lee Ju-yeol has said the central bank will consider another rate hike in November after South Korea became the first major Asian economy in August to tighten monetary policy since the pandemic hit.

The BoK is widely expected to increase its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to one per cent on November 25 to ease growing financial risks amid rising inflation and household debt.

“While Korea’s recovery lost some momentum last quarter as the virus weighed on growth, the economy should pick up pace again this quarter as high vaccination levels allow the rolling back of containment measures,” Alex Holmes, Asia economist at Capital Economics, said in a report. “[But] the BoK is unlikely to be deterred from tightening further by today’s data.”



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Emirates continues to rebuild team following Covid-19 | News


Emirates plans to boost its operational workforce recruiting more than 6,000 staff over the next six months.

As restrictions ease worldwide with the wider administration of the vaccine, additional pilots, cabin crew, engineering specialists and ground staff will be needed to support the ramp up of operations.

Emirates has already restored 90 per cent of its network and is on track to reaching 70 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity by the end of 2021.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group, said: “Emirates has always been at the heart of Dubai’s growth.

“Our requirement for 6,000 additional operational staff signifies the quick recovery Dubai’s economy is witnessing and will lead to opportunities and other positive developments across various other businesses, including those in the consumer, travel and tourism sectors.

“We have been prudently restoring our operations in line with the borders re-opening and ease of travel protocols, and with the positive signs in the economic recovery and continuous growth of demand, we are hopeful to be back to where we were pre-pandemic, from mid-2022.”

In September, Emirates embarked on a worldwide campaign to recruit 3,000 cabin crew and 500 airport services employees to join its Dubai hub to support its operational requirements arising from the travel industry recovery.

As travel demand gains more traction than was earlier anticipated, Emirates will now require an additional 700 ground staff in Dubai and across its network.

Furthermore, the airline is offering exciting career opportunities for 600 qualified pilots interested in joining the global airline’s Flight Operations team based in Dubai.

More Information

Candidates can find out more about the roles and requirements on the official website.





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Early planning key for holiday shopping, travel in 2021 | News


While kids are likely asking friends what they are going to dress up as this weekend for Halloween, families, shoppers and retailers are asking other questions.

Have you started your planning and shopping for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

It is not uncommon for retailers to get a jump on the next big holiday early, this year consumers also might want to start thinking about starting their holiday shopping early too.

Consumers plan to spend $997.73 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to the annual survey released last week by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics. Despite the continued supply chain disruption, this is on par with consumer spending last year.

The survey asked 7,921 consumers about winter holiday shopping plans. It was conducted Oct. 1 to Oct. 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

This year, 90% of US adults plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, up from 87% last year, according to the NRF.

Similar to last year, the NRF reported consumers are prioritizing gifts for family and friends and purchases related to holiday celebrations such as food or décor. Overall plans for holiday spending remain slightly below the pre-pandemic high of $1,047.83 in 2019, as fewer consumers plan to spend on non-gift purchases for themselves and their families.

While nearly half (47%) of holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of sales or price discounts during the holiday season to make non-gift purchases, they plan to spend an average of $118.41 on these items, according to the NRF.

In contrast, in 2019, 60% planned to make these types of purchases and expected to spend $162.02. As many continue to work from home, the NRF reported shoppers are also less inclined to purchase gifts for co-workers.

However, consumers are motivated to check items off their lists earlier than ever. Half (49%) of holiday shoppers will start browsing and buying before November, up from 42% in 2020 and the highest in the survey’s history, the NRF reported. Among those shopping in October or earlier, 47% say they want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping and another 36% do not want to miss out on key holiday items.

The supply chain challenges that have been exacerbated since the beginning of the pandemic are top of mind for consumers, according to the NRF. Nearly half (47%) of holiday shoppers are concerned they will have difficulty finding items this year. The top items they are worried about finding are electronics (44%), clothes (40%) and toys (28%).

Local retailers in downtown Cadillac are not seeing that trend, yet.

Serendipity owner Michele Bosscher and Blossom Boutique owner Jamie Prince there hasn’t been a huge increase of early holiday shoppers. They also said they are not experiencing big supply chain issues.

“I can’t say I have seen people doing a bunch of early Christmas shopping, but they are starting,” Bosscher said.

Bosscher also said so far this year has been a good one and there haven’t been any issues with the supply chain. She attributes that to her store ordering from a vast array of different companies she orders from. As a result, they might have smaller orders than normal, but they have the product in.

“We have found our work-a-around (supply chain issues). Because we work with so many vendors, someone always has something,” she said. “We might have to use more suppliers to keep the same amount of inventory, but we are able to get our hands on it. I don’t think it will dry up and I don’t envision it being an issue.”

It’s a similar story for Prince.

While she admitted it has been somewhat trickier, Prince said supply chain issues haven’t had much of an impact before now. For that reason, Prince said she is not seeing a big increase in early holiday shoppers, but they are starting. With things more opened up this year compared to last, Prince also believes the holiday shopping season will be closer to normal, including Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Prince said, however, moving forward there could be supply chain issues but that remains to be seen.

“It might be easier to get more product in during the holidays but at the beginning of the New Year there could be an impact,” Prince said.

Retailers aren’t the only ones stressing early planning this holiday season. A AAA survey is showing almost half of Michigan residents who plan to travel during the holidays are already scheduling their trips.

The AAA Consumer Pulse Survey was conducted online among residents living in Michigan from Sept. 15 to Sept. 22. A total of 400 residents completed the survey. Survey results asked of all respondents have a maximum margin of error of ± 4.9% points. Responses are weighted by age and gender to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Michigan.

Michigan residents have begun making their travel plans for the holiday season. According to a new AAA Travel survey, nearly half (46%) of residents book their holiday trips by the end of October.

“Time is of the essence for people who plan to take a flight this holiday season,” Debbie Haas, AAA vice president of travel. “As we get closer to the holidays, airfares often rise as availability shrinks. We recommend you book by Halloween, for the best chance of finding the flight you want at a favorable rate.”

Haas also said recently there have been numerous flight delays and cancellations and more are possible during the upcoming holidays. If a person is planning a flight, Haas said they may want to consider travel insurance.

The recent survey also showed two-in-five (41%) Michigan residents plan to take a vacation of three days or more during the 2021 holiday season. Meanwhile, 10% have not yet decided. About a third (36%) of Michigan residents without holiday travel plans are staying home for fear of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Compared to last year, when a vaccine wasn’t available, 38% of Michiganders are more comfortable traveling this holiday season. Meanwhile, two-in-five (41%) feel the same as last year.

Traveler confidence took a step back this quarter, following a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, brought on by the Delta variant. This year, the percentage of Michigan residents who are comfortable traveling rebounded from 45% in Q2 to 72% in Q3, yet slipped back to 63% in our Q4 survey — fielded in September.

Although traveler confidence hit a snag, enthusiasm could rebound through the end of the year. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are trending lower again, which is what 41% of Michigan residents said would need to happen to feel more comfortable traveling.



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Trail Ridge Road Closes To Through Travel For The Season | RMNP News


On Monday, October 25, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park officially closed for the season to through travel. Many popular driving destinations for this time of year including Bear Lake Road, Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park and the section of Trail Ridge Road along the Kawuneeche Valley, are all open.

 Trail Ridge Road is not designed to be an all-season road, with 11 miles above 11,500 feet, few guard rails and no shoulders. Winter conditions of drifting snow, high winds and below- freezing temperatures occur above 10,000 feet. Weather permitting, Trail Ridge Road will remain open to Rainbow Curve on the east side of the park and to Milner Pass on the west side of the park. Eventually, those closures will move down in elevation for the winter season to Many Parks Curve on the east side and Colorado River Trailhead on the west side.

Trail Ridge Road normally opens the last week in May, weather permitting. This year Trail Ridge Road opened on May 29.

Old Fall River Road closed for the season to vehicles on October 4. Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road will remain open to bicycles and leashed pets through November 30. Leashed pets and bicycles are only allowed on the road, not on side trails. On December 1, both of these roads will revert to “winter trail status” which means that bicycles and leashed pets are no longer permitted beyond the closed gates but pedestrians, snowshoers and skiers are.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park, please visit www.nps.gov/romo or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.





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Heavy traffic, air travel follow busy EDC weekend in Las Vegas | News


LAS VEGAS (FOX5) — The 2021 edition of the Electric Daisy Carnival is in the books. Monday morning after the last of the party attendees left the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, people started heading home.

Many out-of-towners spent the day at McCarran International Airport waiting for their flights. FOX5 spoke to a few who raved about what a great three day weekend it was.

Viet Tran from St. Louis simply said, “It was amazing.”

Ally Paetzold from Toronto was a first timer and was excited by the event. “It was awesome. Everyone was so nice, the music was amazing, the experience was amazing and it was really good,” she said.






Virus Outbreak-Vegas Air Travel

FILE – In this July 17, 2020, file photo, planes take off and land from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)




A veteran of EDC, Cesario Galvan from Denver, said he has been going to EDC since it was in Los Angeles. What he appreciated at this year’s event was the thought going into keeping people safe from COVID-19.

“They had health checks, they had health screenings, which I appreciate to make sure we were all safe,” he said.

All said they will come back.

Copyright 2020 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.





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Covid-19 and Vaccine News: Live Updates


ImageAt the airport in Denver last year.
Credit…Kevin Mohatt/Reuters

Children under the age of 18 who are unvaccinated against the coronavirus, and a limited category of foreigners arriving from countries with low vaccination rates, are among the travelers exempted from forthcoming requirements that will determine who can enter the United States, Biden administration officials said on Monday.

The Biden administration has announced that it would lift travel restrictions on Nov. 8 and reopen the United States to fully vaccinated international travelers who had been barred for nearly a year and a half from entering the country by air or crossing the land borders.

But the new travel system also comes with stringent requirements, and will seal the United States off from most foreigners who have not yet received a vaccine cleared by the World Health Organization or U.S. federal regulators. On Monday, senior officials detailed opportunities to enter the United States for certain travelers who struggled to obtain a vaccine because of a lack of uniform vaccine eligibility for minors, as well as limited access to the global supply.

Unvaccinated children under the age of 18 will be permitted to enter the United States when the new system takes effect, officials said, confirming an earlier report from The New York Times. Children older than 2 who are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult will need to show a negative coronavirus test within three days of their departure date. Those traveling alone or with an unvaccinated adult will need to show such a result one day before they travel to the United States.

The exemptions will also apply to adults flying from countries where less than 10 percent of the overall population is fully vaccinated, if they can show a “compelling reason” for entering the United States, officials said. That carve-out, they said, would apply to a narrow group of unvaccinated travelers; entering the United States for tourism would not clear the bar for an exemption.

Others who show a U.S. government-issued letter approving an emergency or humanitarian need to travel will also be allowed to cross U.S. borders.

Many leaders in the tourism industry have praised the new rules, which will signal a new chapter in the U.S. recovery from the pandemic. The restrictions imposed in the early days of the pandemic have barred tourists and separated family members from traveling to the United States for nearly 18 months.

But on Nov. 8, the country will open to those who can show that two weeks have passed since they received either a second shot of the two-dose vaccines cleared by U.S. federal regulators or the W.H.O. (in any combination), or a single shot of a one-dose vaccine greenlit by those organizations, like the one from Johnson & Johnson. Digital or print proof of vaccination status will be required.

In addition, fully vaccinated American citizens or legal permanent residents arriving by sea or air will need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of traveling. Those who are unvaccinated will need to test negative within one day of traveling. Those crossing the land border from Canada or Mexico will not have a testing requirement.

Travelers will also be required to provide their personal information for potential contact tracing after arriving in the United States.

Credit…Velocity Clinical Research/Via Reuters

The coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna is safe and produces a powerful immune response in children 6 through 11, the company said on Monday.

One month after immunization was complete, the children in Moderna’s trial had antibody levels that were 1.5 times higher than those seen in young adults, the company said.

Moderna did not release the full data, nor are the results published in a peer-reviewed journal. The results were announced one day before an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to review data for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children 5 through 11.

Moderna tested two shots of the vaccine given 28 days apart in 4,753 children. They received 50 micrograms of vaccine, half the adult dose, in each shot. (Last week, based on data showing that the half dose is still highly effective, the F.D.A. authorized a booster shot of the Moderna vaccine at this dose.)

Moderna submitted study results for the vaccine’s use for adolescents 12 through 17 in June, but the F.D.A. has not yet announced a decision for that age group.

Some research indicates that the Moderna vaccine may increase the risk of a rare side effect called myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, in boys and young men. In July, the F.D.A. asked both Pfizer and Moderna to expand the size of their trials in order to detect less common side effects.

In children aged 6 through 11, most of the side effects were mild or moderate; the most common were fatigue, headache, fever and pain at the injection site, Moderna said in its statement on Monday. An independent committee will continue to review the vaccine’s safety in the trial participants for 12 months after the second dose.

Moderna is still recruiting children aged 2 through 5 and 6 months to under 2 years for trials of the vaccine in those age groups. The company has enrolled about 5,700 children in the United States and Canada in the trial.

Moderna plans to submit the results soon to the F.D.A. and to regulatory agencies in Europe and elsewhere, the company said.

Credit…Shawn Rocco/Duke Health/Via Reuters

Covid-19 vaccines could be approved and available for younger American children soon, but the question of how quickly parents will allow them to get inoculated is another matter.

Children ages 5 to 11 could begin getting vaccinated in early November, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, said Sunday.

That means those children could be fully immunized by the holidays, if an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration endorses Pfizer’s application for vaccine use in that age group on Tuesday. Children 12 and up have been eligible for vaccination since May.

But hesitancy among parents of these children could be a hurdle. Only about one in three parents of 5- to 11-year-olds planned to get their children inoculated “right away” once a vaccine is authorized, according to polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted last month. Another third said they wanted to “wait and see” how the vaccine affected children.

But that same polling showed that reluctance among parents of teenagers had dropped in the months since vaccines became available to that age group.

“This is critically important, and we know we have a lot of work to do,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.” “Those survey data look very much consistent with where we were with adults last December, when we rolled out vaccines for adults. We have done a huge amount of hard work over the last 10 months, education, communication, providing information, getting vaccines to really convenient places and trusted messengers.”

F.D.A. regulators on Friday released their evaluation of data from the Pfizer-BioNTech submission for emergency authorization of a lower-dose vaccine for young children.

Pfizer’s data “look good as to the efficacy and safety,” Dr. Fauci said on the ABC program “This Week.” He said “if all goes well,” it is “entirely possible, if not very likely, that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November.”

According to Pfizer and BioNTech, the children who were vaccinated as part of the clinical trial, who received doses that were one-third the size of the adult doses, developed robust immune responses after receiving the regimen of two shots three weeks apart. The companies have said the efficacy rate of the vaccine in children reduced the risk of developing a symptomatic infection by 91 percent.

The most common side effects in children were fatigue, headache, muscle pain and chills. According to the F.D.A., the data submitted indicated no cases of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis, inflammation of the outer lining of the heart, both of which are rare complications that have been reported among young boys and men receiving the vaccine.

Over the past week there has been a lot of regulatory guidance on who can receive booster doses of Covid vaccines, giving a large segment of the U.S. population access to more protection.

Both Dr. Walensky and Dr. Fauci sought to dispel confusion about booster shots and explain the option of “mixing and matching” initial vaccines and boosters.

Boosters of all three vaccines available in the United States have been authorized. Additional shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which use mRNA technology, have been approved for people 65 and older, those with underlying health conditions and all adults whose living or working conditions place them at high risk of exposure to the virus. Anyone over 18 who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago is also eligible for a booster.

People can receive a booster shot that is different from the initial vaccine they first received, the health authorities said.

“If you were originally vaccinated with one product, could you and would it be appropriate and safe and effective to get boosted in the third shot for the mRNA and the second shot for J.&.J. by another product?” Dr. Fauci said. “The answer is, it’s perfectly fine.”

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Australia, home to the world’s longest lockdown, is scrapping quarantine requirements for vaccinated residents returning from overseas. New Zealand, famed for its commitment to a “Zero Covid” strategy, abandoned it this month. Around the world, people are vacationing, visiting family and resuming business trips across international borders.

Not China.

The country where the coronavirus pandemic began is also the only one in the world still trying to completely eradicate the virus within its borders. Officials have repeatedly dismissed the idea of living with the virus, citing China’s large population and their success in containment so far — even as the country has continued to record sporadic outbreaks, triggering mass testing and strict lockdowns.

“Every locality should firmly adhere to the policy of ‘Defend externally against importation, defend internally against rebound,’” Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission, said at a news conference on Sunday. “The current control measures cannot be relaxed.”

China has continued to record local cases — around 130 in recent days, after a spate of cases linked to domestic tourists. Parts of Beijing, Inner Mongolia and Gansu Province are under lockdown. Schools and businesses in those areas of Beijing are closed, and organizers of the Beijing Marathon, which had been planned for this weekend, announced on Sunday that it would be indefinitely postponed.

China’s tough stance on loosening Covid restrictions is possible in part because of China’s huge domestic consumer base, which has helped to keep retail spending afloat, and because of the ruling Communist Party’s tight grip on power. The authorities can implement lockdowns and mandate multiple rounds of testing with astonishing efficiency.

In addition, many Chinese are satisfied with the government’s approach. Domestic travel has surged in areas with no cases, and the country’s low death rate — it has officially recorded fewer than 5,000 deaths — has become a source of nationalistic pride, especially at a time when China’s relations with many other countries are growing increasingly fraught.

Xi Jinping, China’s leader, has repeatedly pointed to China’s success in containment as proof of the superiority of its governance model. When Zhang Wenhong, a prominent virologist, suggested this summer that China learn to live with the virus, he was attacked viciously online as a lackey of foreigners.

There is a clear incentive for China to remain closed off, at least in the short term: With Beijing set to host the Winter Olympics in February, officials have acknowledged that they are under pressure to keep cases under control.

Still, the question of sustainability looms. China’s economic growth is slowing. The country’s diplomatic efforts may also suffer from its long isolation; Mr. Xi has not left China or received foreign visitors since early 2020, even as other world leaders prepare to gather in Rome for a Group of 20 summit and in Glasgow for climate talks.

Some officials have started to tentatively broach the idea of loosening restrictions, though without any timelines or firm commitments. Zhong Nanshan, one of the country’s most prominent doctors, told a Chinese magazine this month that China could begin opening up when vaccination rates had exceeded 85 percent, a goal that could potentially be reached this year.

But, he added, there was another caveat: Other countries would also need to get cases under control.

Joy Dong contributed research

Credit…John Locher/Associated Press

After a series of endorsements over the last month by scientific panels advising federal agencies, tens of millions of Americans are now eligible for booster shots of coronavirus vaccines.

But the recommendations — even those approved unanimously — mask significant dissent and disquiet among those advisers about the need for booster shots in the United States.

In interviews last week, several advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to the Food and Drug Administration said data show that, with the exception of adults over age 65, the vast majority of Americans are already well protected against severe illness and do not need booster shots.

All the advisers felt that they were obligated to make difficult choices, based on sparse research, in the middle of a public health emergency. But some said they felt compelled to vote for the shots because of the way the federal agencies framed the questions that they were asked to consider.

Other committee experts said that they wanted to avoid confusing the public further by dissenting, or that they voted according to their views of the evidence and were simply overruled.

After a series of votes, the official position of the F.D.A. and C.D.C. now is that older adults, people with certain medical conditions and those whose jobs or living situations regularly expose them to the virus can opt for a booster dose of any of the three vaccines.

The C.D.C. also advised last week that people in certain high-risk groups who got one type of vaccine could choose a different one for their booster.

In interviews, the experts bemoaned the limited data on the safety and efficacy of the booster shots. Still, some said they felt they had to vote in favor of booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines because they had already recommended boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and did not want to deny other Americans.

Credit…Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA, via Shutterstock

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea announced on Monday that the country had achieved its goal of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its population of about 52 million and would be implementing a phased recovery plan next month.

While Seoul, the capital, has been under the strictest level of social-distancing regulations since the summer, limiting social gatherings to a maximum of two at one point and barring customers from sitting in cafes, regulations were eased starting last week. Last week, South Korea also added five countries to the list of those whose vaccinated tourists will be eligible for quarantine exemptions.

Under the phased recovery plan that starts next Monday, restrictions will loosen further, including allowing gatherings of up to 10 people, lifting restrictions on business operating hours, allowing spectators at some sporting events and allowing the use of showers at fitness centers. The new regulations will be observed for a four-week period, followed by a two-week evaluation term.

While South Korea’s vaccination program had a slow start compared to those in the United States and several countries in Europe and Asia, it quickly picked up its distribution to surpass the United States. The country was a week early in reaching its immunization quota on Saturday.

On Monday, South Korea’s government also said it would donate one million AstraZeneca Covid shots to Iran, in recognition of the 60-year friendship between the two countries. Earlier this month, South Korea donated over a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Vietnam and Thailand.

On Monday, South Korea reported 1,190 daily new cases. According to a database by Our World in Data, the country has seen a 35 percent decrease in cases over the past two weeks. The country has faced four waves of the pandemic since February, with its latest spike starting in July and still ongoing, the worst in terms of case count.

The government also announced a $519 billion budget for 2022 to help recover the pandemic-induced economic fallout. The proposed budget for next year is 8.3 percent higher than this year’s.

“We will do our best to recover both financially and in our daily lives,” Mr. Moon said at the National Assembly.

Credit…Chad Batka for The New York Times

The singer Ed Sheeran announced Sunday on social media that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and would be canceling public appearances and working at home, in quarantine.

It wasn’t immediately clear what appearances would be canceled or rescheduled, or whether Mr. Sheeran was sick with symptoms of Covid-19.

The news came days before the Friday release of his new album, “=,” pronounced “equals.” The 14-song album includes his recently released single “Bad Habits.”

And it comes just after Mr. Sheeran had been announced as the musical guest for “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 6.

The four-time Grammy winner took a break from work and social media in late 2019 after two years of touring in support of his best-selling album “÷” (or “divide”).

Credit…Andrew Kutan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Papua New Guinea is facing its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, and the surge threatens to overwhelm the country’s rudimentary health system, the Red Cross said on Monday. Data from global health organizations suggest that the crisis may be far deeper than the story told by official figures.

Since March 2020, the country has reported 27,627 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 335 deaths. Figures from the World Health Organization indicate that the true number of infections may be more than twice that, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

At least 2.6 million people, or more than a quarter of the population of nine million, have visited clinics with symptoms consistent with flu or pneumonia since the pandemic began.

Papua New Guinea’s health services are poorly equipped to deal with a major outbreak. The country has only 500 doctors and fewer than 4,000 nurses, according to Human Rights Watch. With most of the population living outside of urban centers, access to health care is limited.

“Hospitals are full, and patients are being turned away in Port Moresby and provincial areas,” said Uvenama Rova, the top Red Cross official in Papua New Guinea, in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that the risks of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 are skyrocketing due to limited health infrastructure, high rates of illness, all compounded by poor access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation facilities.”

As of Sunday, just 207,207 people in the country had been vaccinated, because of problems with the rollout and a lack of supplies. Intense misinformation and vaccine hesitancy have affected even the country’s health staff: One survey of 130 people working in an emergency department in Port Moresby, the capital, showed 24 percent would refuse a vaccine and 37 percent were unsure, according to A.F.P.

Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

A study of more than 32 million Covid vaccine recipients in England published on Monday found that people given the AstraZeneca vaccine were at slightly increased risk of Guillain–Barré syndrome, a rare but potentially serious neurological condition.

Even so, the coronavirus vaccine posed a far smaller risk of the disorder than did Covid itself, the researchers said.

“The neurological complications of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are much rarer than the neurological complications of Covid-19,” said Dr. Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London.

For every 10 million people who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca shot, the study estimated, 38 additional people would be expected to develop Guillain-Barré syndrome. In comparison, for every 10 million people who contracted the coronavirus, 145 would be expected to develop Guillain-Barré.

Concerns about the syndrome have already prompted regulatory action in Britain and the European Union. The European Medicines Agency said last month that it was “at least a reasonable possibility” that the AstraZeneca vaccine caused Guillain-Barré in very rare instances. And last week, Britain’s medicines regulator added it as a very rare side effect.

Guillain-Barré is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks nerve cells, potentially causing muscle weakness or paralysis. The symptoms often pass within weeks, but in some cases, the condition can cause permanent nerve damage.

Researchers have reported that the Johnson & Johnson shot may also be associated with a small increased risk of Guillain-Barré. That shot and the AstraZeneca vaccine both rely on a virus known as an adenovirus. The study on Monday said that further studies were needed to assess whether antibodies against the vaccine can react with components of the peripheral nerves to cause Guillain-Barré.

Several European countries have already limited the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine because of an apparent link with other rare but serious clotting disorders. In the United States, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has largely been sidelined amid concerns about the same clotting problems and the wide availability of alternative vaccines.

The new study also found a small increased risk of hemorrhagic strokes — caused by the leaking or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain — after a first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, but scientists cautioned that any association was far from certain. The study said that there was no increased risk evident from a different set of Scottish vaccination data, and scientists noted that the diagnoses in England had not all been verified by stroke experts.





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One Downside to Space Travel: Back Pain | Health News


By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

MONDAY, Oct 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) — You can ride a rocket into space to escape Earth, but one thing you might not escape is back pain.

Back pain could turn out to be a major problem for the growing number of space travelers, and learning more about it could also benefit Earth-bound back patients, researchers say.

“Insight into back pain in space travelers may provide usable information to treat back pain in other populations,” said study co-author Dr. Steven Cohen, a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins and a retired Army colonel.

One study, which analyzed 722 space flights, found that 52% of astronauts had some form of back pain in the first two to five days of space travel. While 86% of those cases were mild, the pain was sufficient to interfere with the ability to complete tasks.

Another study of military helicopter pilots and crew found that nearly half of those who experienced fluctuating gravitational forces reported low back pain. And the pilots were nearly three times more likely to develop an injury to the soft connective cushioning in their lower spine (lumbar disc herniation) than the general population.

Meanwhile, a 2010 study from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration found that astronauts have four times the odds for disc herniation. And the risk is even higher in the first year after they return to Earth.

The S-shaped bend in the human spine enables it to resist gravity, remain flexible and absorb weight and impact, explained lead author Dr. Radostin Penchev, a resident physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

“If reduced gravity allows this curvature to straighten, this not only could be a cause of acute pain in astronauts, but also could affect the stability of their spine when they return to Earth,” he added in a Hopkins news release.

His team also examined past studies on preventing, diagnosing and treating back pain in astronauts.

Further study of these methods — including specific exercises and the use of specialized suits — could provide clues for treating back pain in the estimated 80% of people who experience back pain in their lifetime, according to authors of the study published recently in the journal Anesthesiology.

Resistance exercise such as isometrics, squats, lunges and bench pressing have been central to back pain prevention among astronauts, and space stations are equipped with exercise machines and other resistance training tools.

Along with resistance exercise, other methods used to prevent back pain in astronauts include massage, nutritional supplementation to increase vitamin D and caloric intake, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and negative pressure devices.

Penchev noted that science fiction “has popularized the spinning space station that uses centrifugal force to mimic gravity,” but said specialized suits that provide spinal resistance similar to that experienced under Earth’s gravity may be more realistic and effective.

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on back pain.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, news release, Oct. 21, 2021

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



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Reopening drives United States flight bookings | News


New research from ForwardKeys has revealed flight bookings to the USA have soared following two announcements that the destination would reopen to vaccinated foreign travellers in November.

By mid-October, weekly bookings exceeded 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The first announcement was made on September 20th, when the White House said that visitors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, the 26 Schengen countries, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil would be allowed to enter the USA, without being subject to quarantine, provided they were fully vaccinated.

That caused an immediate reaction, with week-on-week bookings from the UK jumping 83 per cent, from Brazil jumping 71 per cent, and from the EU jumping 185 per cent.

The second announcement was made on October 15th, when Kevin Munoz, assistant press secretary to the US president, named November 8th as the date restrictions would be relaxed.

Week-on-week bookings climbed higher still, jumping 15 per cent from the UK, 26 per cent from the EU and 100 per cent from Brazil.

Juan Gómez, head of market intelligence, ForwardKeys, said: “This data yet again demonstrates the enormous pent-up demand for travel.

“Immediately people heard that they would be allowed to visit the USA again; they booked; and a substantial proportion booked to fly as soon as they could.

“It is also interesting to note that bookings climbed higher once a specific date was given.

“That is not entirely surprising for two reasons. First, the certainty of a specific date inspires confidence.

“Second, those wanting to travel before the end of November could not afford to make a commitment until they knew for sure that they could travel when they wanted to.

“I am optimistic that in the coming weeks, we will see a steep increase in bookings to the USA for the Christmas period.”





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United Arab Emirates Air Force leads Expo 2020 display | News


The Knights, the United Arab Emirates Air Force aerobatic display team, and the Saudi Hawks, the Royal Saudi Air Force aerobatic team, have wowed the crowds with their daredevil moves above Expo 2020 Dubai.

The air shows are held in collaboration with the GCC Pavilion.

Running until March, Expo 2020 has invited visitors from across the planet to join the making of a new world in a six-month celebration of human creativity, innovation, progress and culture.





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