F1 urges Spanish GP to fix ‘unacceptable’ traffic issues

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya announced it had been sold out for the 2022 edition of the race after going through two COVID-19 years with limited attendance, stating 300,000 flocked to the Barcelona venue across the weekend.

But soon enough it became apparent the venue wasn’t prepared for the sell-out crowd, with larges queues forming around the limited food and drinks concessions and toilets.

Particularly on Saturday and Sunday, the severe congestion on the access roads around the circuit ground traffic to a halt, with fans then struggling to find parking space. The small Montmelo train station also struggled to transport fans to and from the city centre during peak hours.

The crowd problems were made worse by the heat, with Catalonia experiencing its hottest week of the year so far as temperatures soared above 35 degrees on the weekend, leaving many fans to brave the weather without adequate provisions.

Social media channels were flooded with fans voicing their displeasure, with some even suggesting they wouldn’t return for race day despite having bought a ticket.

Hours after the race, F1 released a statement calling the congestion issues “not acceptable”, urging the organisers to put a plan in place to avoid a similar meltdown next year.

“The huge number of fans at this event both inside and outside the circuit created the traffic issues for the fans,” an F1 statement said.

“We have made the promoter aware that this is not acceptable and must be fixed for next season.”

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Several parts of the Montmelo circuit had been renovated for this year, but some of its key spectator facilities have remained virtually untouched over the years.

As the site of Max Verstappen’s first-ever Formula 1 win and a popular tourist destination, the Spanish GP has seen a surge of Dutch fans travelling to Catalonia in recent years.

Carlos Sainz’ improved results with Ferrari and Fernando Alonso’s comeback have also seen local fans find their way back to the venue, which has been hosting F1 races since its inception in 1991.

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Cass County urges drivers to take caution while traveling on rural roads

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) – Cass County is urging motorists to travel with caution while on rural roads.

County officials say there are numerous township roads that have water over top of them.

They also say it may be difficult traveling on gravel roads due to saturated soils.

So far, six rural roads are being impacted.

This includes: -County Road 16 / 138th Ave SE

-County Road 32 / 146th Ave SE

-County Road 6 / 150th Ave SE

-County Road 1 / 23rd St SE

-County Road 1 / 17th St SE

-County Road 15 / 164th Ave SE

*Designated Bypass for CR 15, no travel west of intersection

Officials say as the moisture content continues to grow, they anticipate more problem areas.

Copyright 2022 KVLY. All rights reserved.

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Health News Roundup: U.S. CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to Hong Kong, New Zealand; Bird flu spreads on U.S. poultry farms and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Germany to receive patients from Ukraine -health minister

Germany is preparing to receive seriously injured civilians and soldiers from Ukraine and patients who have to be transferred from Ukrainian hospitals that have been bombed, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Monday. “Germany has a very strong healthcare system. We showed that during the crisis. We must now use this strength again,” Lauterbach said in a news conference.

U.S. CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to Hong Kong, New Zealand

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday urged Americans to avoid travel to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Thailand over COVID-19 cases. The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to “Level Four: Very High” for the three destinations. In total, the CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to about 135 countries and territories.

Factbox-Bird flu spreads on U.S. poultry farms

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported outbreaks of a highly lethal type of bird flu in commercial flocks in Maryland and South Dakota over the weekend, adding to concerns that wild birds are spreading the disease across the country. Farmers are ordered to kill their flocks after the disease is detected, and importing countries including Mexico, China and Korea have imposed state-specific import restrictions in response.

WHO says at least nine killed in 16 attacks on Ukraine health care

The World Health Organization has confirmed at least nine people had died in 16 attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine since the start of a Russian invasion on Feb. 24, it said on Monday. The WHO said the attacks https://extranet.who.int/ssa/LeftMenu/PublicReportList.aspx?start=2022-02-24&end=2022-03-07&countryList=229&typeList=0 took place between Feb. 24 and March 3. In addition to the nine deaths, 16 people were injured, including seven health workers.

Thailand bids to avert ‘population crisis’ as birth rate crashes

Thailand is scrambling to encourage its people to have more babies to arrest a slumping birth rate, offering parents childcare and fertility centres, while also tapping social media influencers to showcase the joys of family life. The campaign comes as the number of births has dropped by nearly a third since 2013, when they started declining. Last year saw 544,000 births, the lowest in at least six decades and below the 563,000 deaths, which were also swelled by coronavirus-related fatalities.

U.S. lawmakers seek permanent ban on illicit types of fentanyl

A bipartisan trio of U.S. Congressmen on Monday unveiled new legislation that would permanently ban illicit versions of fentanyl, the powerful synthetic painkiller that has helped fuel the nation’s opioid epidemic and death toll. The proposed bill, introduced by Democrat Chris Pappas and Republicans Dan Newhouse and Ted Budd, comes days before a temporary ban on chemical copycats of fentanyl known as analogues expires on Friday.

Scientists identify new gene differences in severe COVID patients

Scientists have pinpointed 16 new genetic variants in people who developed severe COVID-19 in a large study published on Monday that could help researchers develop treatments for very sick patients. The results suggest that people with severe COVID have genes that predispose them to one of two problems: failure to limit the ability of the virus to make copies of itself, or excessive inflammation and blood clotting.

Mainland China daily local COVID cases climb to 2-year high

Mainland China has logged its highest number of daily new local symptomatic COVID-19 infections in about two years, with the highly transmissible Omicron variant putting pressure on the government’s strict policy of curbing each outbreak quickly. China reported 214 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms for Sunday, the majority in the provinces of Guangdong, Jilin and Shandong.

Moderna to build mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Kenya

Moderna Inc said on Monday it would set up a manufacturing facility in Kenya, its first in Africa, to produce messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, including COVID-19 shots. Moderna said it expects to invest about $500 million in the Kenyan facility and supply as many as 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines to the continent each year. It also has plans to start filling doses of its COVID vaccine in Africa as early as 2023.

Omicron infections contagious for at least 6 days; Takeda drug shows promise as COVID treatment

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Omicron infections are contagious for at least 6 days

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Federal government urges Canadians not to travel to Russia — and to leave if possible

The federal government is warning Canadians not to travel to Russia, and to leave if they are already there.

The updated travel advisory, posted on the government’s website Saturday, is prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Avoid all travel to Russia due to the impacts of the armed conflict with Ukraine, including limited flight options and restrictions on financial transactions. If you are in Russia, you should leave while commercial means are still available,” the advisory reads.

The advisory notes that, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, Canada and other countries in North America and Europe have placed sanctions on Russian entities, including restrictions on airspace.

“These sanctions and the Russian retaliation, may have an important impact on the availability and the provision of essential service. Flight availability is becoming extremely limited,” the advisory reads.

The notice also describes the possibility of limited consular resources and the passage Friday of a law in Russia which could result in detention or other penalties for sharing information deemed to be false.

The advisory warns against “discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine .. sharing or publishing information related to the current events in Ukraine and Russia … [and] participating in demonstrations and large gatherings.” Several major news networks, including CBC, BBC and CNN have temporarily suspended reporting from Russia.

The United States also advised its citizens Saturday not to travel to Russia.

The update Saturday is an escalation from a warning issued Monday, in which the government urged Canadians to avoid non-essential travel.

Canadians have similarly been advised by the government to avoid all travel to Ukraine.

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Canada urges citizens to avoid all travel to Russia

Canada on Saturday strengthened its travel advisory for Russia and is now urging Canadians to avoid all travel to the country after Russia’s new censorship law was enacted.

Canadians who are still in Russia are being asked to leave as soon as possible while commercial flights are still available. The Canadian government notes that availability of flights “is becoming extremely limited” as airlines around the world cease flights to the country and Russian airlines face sanctions from western governments.

“Several countries, including Canada, have restricted financial transactions and air connections with Russia. Russia has retaliated with similar measures. These sanctions and the Russian retaliation may have an important impact on the availability and the provision of essential service,” the Canadian government said on its travel advisory website.

Canadians who decide to remain in Russia are being warned that they may be affected by shortages of essential goods and unable to withdraw money from banks. The federal government also says that Canadians in Russia could be stuck in the country for longer than expected and “should not depend on the Government of Canada to help you leave the country.”

Previously, Canada warned against non-essential travel to Russia after its war with Ukraine first broke out. But on Friday, the Russian parliament voted to approve a new law that would criminalize people for spreading news reports of the war that Russia considers “fake.”

Those who violate the new law could face up to 15 years in prison. As a result, many western media outlets have announced that they would be pulling their journalists out of the country and temporary suspending their Russia bureaus.

Given the new law, Canada is asking citizens in Russia to abstain from talking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sharing information about the war online or participating in protests and large gatherings.

Similarly, the U.S. on Saturday has also issued a “Do Not Travel” advisory for Russia, asking Americans currently in Russia to leave immediately.

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US State Department again urges Americans to not travel to Russia

The Indian government is speaking to officials in both Russia and Ukraine to press for a ceasefire after Indian students stuck in Ukraine appealed for evacuations, a government spokesperson said Saturday.

“We are strongly urging both sides to have a ceasefire; whether it will happen, when it will happen, is something we will see as it happens,” said Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, during a Saturday news conference. “But I hope it happens because that will be something useful and necessary for us, otherwise we are putting them at risk. … We will continue to press on this.”

At least 700 Indian students are stranded in Sumy, a city in northeastern Ukraine, according to the ministry.

Bagchi said the other primary concern was transportation, as Sumy is about 30 miles from the Russian border and train lines are not operational.

Bagchi said buses or trucks would be a plausible option; however, the best route out would be determined by officials on ground. Meanwhile, Denis Alipov, the Russian ambassador to India, said Russia had responded to India’s request for help and arranged for “hundreds of buses.”

“We have created special groups that are ready to take the Indians to the territory of the Russian Federation and then transport them to India, but the catch is the fighting in these areas continues and where the Indians are, our forces are not,” Alipov said Saturday, adding that Indian diplomats were in Belgrade, Serbia, to coordinate action on ground.

Bagchi said that he understood the students’ feelings of being left behind but urged them to remain in shelters. Students have told CNN that the Indian embassy has not responded to their calls, but Bagchi said, “we are talking to the students directly both from the embassy and our control room here.”

“If there is a corridor, we will find a way to get them out,” he said. “If there is a pause in fighting, I assure you we will be able to pull them out.”

Bagchi said that all Indian citizens had left Kharkiv as far as the ministry was aware, but the embassy will take a fresh look to identify any citizens that remain.

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BTA urges industry to collaborate to achieve sustainability goals

The UK-based Business Travel Association (BTA) has urged the corporate travel sector to work together to ensure sustainable development.

The BTA’s first ESG (environmental, social and governance) report, under the title ‘We can’t do it alone’, is based around the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals and features interviews with more 30 stakeholders from across travel, including hotels, aviation, rail and technology.

The report notes that while priorities and concerns “vary per sector”, the entire industry is agreed that climate action is the number one priority, followed by responsible consumption and production, affordable and clean energy, and gender equality.

It also finds that the main challenges to successful ESG development are cost, measurement, communication and the lack of government support. 

Clive Wratten, CEO of the BTA, said: “The findings of this report demonstrate a desire for industry collaboration on a scale that we have not previously seen. It is critical that we take responsibility for our ESG activity as we recover from the pandemic, and now we have a focus to streamline these efforts.

“We are calling on the entire network of the business travel industry, as well as regulators, authorities, and governments worldwide to make this sustainable development possible; we cannot do this alone.”

Wratten also highlighted the problems caused by the impact of the pandemic on organisations’ ability to implement ESG policies. 

“To date, many of the efforts of our industry are being under-reported,” he said. “Sadly, too many companies are being forced to work in isolation and numerous initiatives have stalled as organisations have battled the economic and social consequences of Covid-19.”

The BTA said the report was the “first step” in its current ESG campaign, with Wratten planning to consult with external experts to create a ‘Roadmap to a Sustainable Future’ to be launched in the autumn. 

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US State Department once again urges Americans to not travel to Russia

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis delivers a speech at the opening of a session of the UN Human Rights Council on February 28, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Swiss President Ignazio Cassis delivers a speech at the opening of a session of the UN Human Rights Council on February 28, in Geneva, Switzerland. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Switzerland has announced that it will forego its commitment to “Swiss neutrality” in favor of adopting sanctions against Russia, Swiss Federal President Ignazio Cassis said Monday, adding that Switzerland’s sanctions will be in line with those already adopted by the European Union. 

“The Swiss Federal Council has decided today to fully adopt EU sanctions,” Cassis said during a news briefing. “It is an unparalleled action of Switzerland, who has always stayed neutral before.”

“Russia’s attack is an attack on freedom, an attack on democracy, an attack on the civil population, and an attack on the institutions of a free country. This cannot be accepted regarding international law, this cannot be accepted politically, and this cannot be accepted morally,” Cassis added. 

Speaking after an extraordinary meeting of the Swiss Federal Council, Cassis stressed that “in these dark days,” Switzerland stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and hopes that sanctions will encourage the Kremlin to “change its mind.”

“To play into the hands of an aggressor is not neutral. Having signed the Geneva convention of human rights, we are bound to humanitarian order,” Cassis said. “Other democracies shall be able to rely on Switzerland; those standing for international law shall be able to rely on Switzerland; states that uphold human rights shall be able to rely on Switzerland.”

Switzerland will freeze the assets of “listed persons” and will also bring into force an entry ban for those highlighted by the EU’s packet of sanctions, according to the Swiss Federal President.

Cassis said that Switzerland was closing its airspace to all flights from Russia, including private jets, with the exception of humanitarian flights, search flights and emergency situations. 

Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said entry ban will impact “oligarchs of Russian or Ukrainian nationality who are particularly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

“These are five persons with strong economic connections into Switzerland,” Keller-Sutter highlighted, but said because of privacy reasons, she was not naming those oligarchs.

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Federal Government urges Australians not to travel to Russia as Ukraine war escalates

The Federal Government is urging Australians not to travel to Russia as the United States and Europe move to isolate the country with harsh financial sanctions and flights bans.

The European Union has imposed a ban on Russian planes, shutting down airspace for Russian-owned or controlled aircraft in retaliation for Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, analysts say Western sanctions to block selected Russian banks from an international payments system – as well as an EU move to ban transactions made by Russia’s central bank – could cause financial turmoil in the country in coming weeks.

On Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade upgraded its travel advice for Russia to “do not travel”, saying the situation in the country was becoming more uncertain.

Two men in Ukrainian army uniforms inspect a damaged vehicle.
Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has escalated.(AP: Marienko Andrew)

“Do not travel to Russia due to the security environment and military conflict with Ukraine,” the department said.

“If you’re in Russia, consider leaving by commercial or private means if it’s safe to do so.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne told reporters that she would soon lift that advice further, and instruct all Australians in Russia to get out of the country right now.

“I am advised that both France and the United States have just upgraded their travel advice in relation to Russia to leave immediately,” she said.

“I will ask DFAT to similarly upgrade our travel advice.”

Warnings over access to cash

The department also said the financial sanctions and travel bans could make it difficult for Australians in Russia to access cash or leave the country.

“Commercial travel routes between Russia and Europe have been impacted by measures taken in response to military action in Ukraine,” the travel advice says.

“A number of Russian airports are now closed to the public.

“There are reports of non-Russian credit and debit cards being declined in Russia.

“Be prepared with alternate means of payment should your cards be declined.”

The warning comes as Mr Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert, in a move Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled “reckless”.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance to the Russian invasion so far, but analysts warn that Russia may intensify its assault in coming days.

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GBTA urges coordination on EU Covid certificate validity period

The GBTA, alongside its European partner organisations, is urging a coordinated approach to the validity period of the European Digital Covid Certificate (DCC).

In a joint statement to the European Union and its member states, the organisations urge countries to come together around the 270-day validity for certificates.

The statement says some member states continue to implement their own rules which causes confusion for travellers.

Suzanne Neufang, CEO GBTA, said: “Ensuring the harmonisation of measures such as the validity period of the DCC across the Member States will be crucial to the recovery of the European and global travel industry as well as to the economy as a whole.

“The successive lockdowns we experienced in Europe and around the world in 2020 dealt a blow to the global business travel industry, which suffered a 52 per cent decline in business travel and €662 billion in lost business travel spend; a coordinated and harmonised approach to the DCC is needed to support the return to travel and the recovery of the business travel industry.” 

A similar call was made by aviation organisations earlier this month who urged EU governments to lift all travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, as the new EU-wide travel regime was implemented.

ACI Europe (Airports Council International) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said those holding a valid Covid-19 vaccination certificate should not face any restrictions when travelling within the EU.

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