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COVID-19: Portugal reopens museums, schools, others

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Portugal on Monday reopened museums, cafe terraces and secondary schools nearly two months after tightening Covid-19 curbs following a wave of cases early this year.

There was an explosion of cases following Christmas and New Year festivities which led to overstretched hospitals and the government imposed a general lockdown in the middle of January and closed schools a week later.

There have been nearly 16,900 coronavirus deaths and 823,335 cases so far, according to an official tally on Sunday.

Primary schools reopened on March 15.

Monday’s easing comes with some guidelines. Only four people will be able to sit together at a table in cafe terraces while museums can change their opening hours.

Group training sessions at gyms and sports venues remain banned.

“We are expecting very few visitors” due to the paucity of foreign tourists, Antonio Nunes Pereira, director of the Palace of Pena in Sintra, outside Lisbon, told AFP.

Read Also: UK to announce new international travel rules

“We expect a return to normal next summer… when the vaccination process advances in Europe,” he said.

The museum is one of Portugal’s most visited sites and drew over two million visitors in 2019. Eighty-five percent of them were foreigners.

The government has launched mass Covid tests and started vaccinating teachers.

It plans to start reopening high schools, universities and auditoriums and concert halls later this month and restaurants in May.

The situation is being reviewed every two weeks and the government can tighten restrictions in municipalities with a high number of cases.

Portugal has suspended flights with Brazil and the Britain to ward off the new variants that emerged in those countries and tightened controls on the land border with Spain.

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COVID-19

It’s foolishness to have faith when God provides vaccine – Ighodalo

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It’s foolishness to have faith when God provides vaccine - Ighodalo

Amidst the Covid-19 vaccination exercise, which is on-going in various parts of the world, the Senior Pastor of Trinity House, Ituah Ighodalo, has criticised those who believe that their faith is enough to protect them from the virus, when God has given a Vaccine as alleged by him.

This is stemmed from the arguments raised by some clerics against the vaccines, which was developed for the treatment of the novel Coronavirus disease.

Recall, that we had reported that Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy slammed other clerics who wanted to become ministers of the vaccine, rather than concentrating on the healing power of God.

The General Overseer of the Omega Fire Ministries International, Apostle Johnson Suleman, has also expressed lack of confidence in the vaccine.

However, the Senior Pastor of Trinity House, Ituah Ighodalo who spoke to ARISE TV advised his fellow pastors “to do their research, get the knowledge and stop misinforming and improperly educating people on guesswork, instincts and mere suppositions.”

He said that he has taken a jab of the vaccine and claimed he was directed by God after he prayed.

Ighodalo said, “It is foolishness to keep having faith that God will protect you from an infection He has made provision for, vaccines that can provide a high percentage of protection.”

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Furthermore, the Cleric added, “I have taken the jab. I prayed about it, and I got a clear direction from God to go and receive it, and I have explained to my people in church that God provides knowledge. I will like to appeal to my brother pastors to do their research, get the knowledge and stop misinforming and improperly educating people on guesswork, instincts and mere suppositions. Coronavirus is real, and you need the vaccination.

“The Bible says my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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He said that there is a need to correct the wrong notion that people have about the vaccine by showing them that it doesn’t tally with science.

“Some people think the COVID-19 vaccine is a deliberate effort to wipe out the human population

“We need to address the fears and prove it is not so. Other persons think it is the sign of the anti-christ (666) and we need to prove this is not also true.

“Other people believe the vaccines have long term effect and if you take it today, in 20 years’ time, it would affect them. We also need to address such fears and prove scientifically this is not so,” he said.

“The problem is a lot of these questions about the vaccine are not being properly addressed and there is too much rumour flying all over the place. Some churches believe in divine health but if they study further, they would also know that God provided knowledge for healing,” Ighodalo added.

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Georgia PM tests positive as Covid cases spike

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Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said Tuesday he tested positive for coronavirus amid a fresh spike in cases in the Caucasus nation despite the start of a vaccine rollout.

“I am feeling well,” Garibashvili, 38, said on Facebook. “I am in self-isolation and continuing to work remotely.”

On Tuesday, Georgia registered 897 new coronavirus cases — three times the average number of daily infections recorded over the past months.

Overall, the Black Sea nation of some four million people has registered more than 275,000 coronavirus cases and 3,832 deaths, the health ministry said.

In mid-March, Georgia began a national vaccination campaign by inoculating medical workers with AstraZeneca’s jab.

Also Read: BREAKING: Polytechnic lecturers begin indefinite strike

In addition to some 43,000 doses of AstraZeneca provided through the Covax vaccine-sharing programme, Georgia also received enough doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine to inoculate some 14,000 people.

More than 11,600 people have been vaccinated so far, director of Georgia’s National Centre for Disease Control, Amiran Gamkrelidze, told journalists on Monday.

He said the rollout “needs to be accelerated”.

The authorities in Georgia have so far ruled out any further anti-virus curbs.

Deputy Health Minister Tamar Gabunia said on Monday there was “no need at this point” for further anti-pandemic restrictions.

In May last year, Georgia lifted its coronavirus lockdown and allowed shops to reopen, but a night-time curfew has remained in place.

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COVID-19

UK to announce new international travel rules

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Britain will on Monday set out plans to restart international travel, using a “traffic-light” system as the country cautiously emerges from lockdown.

The announcement comes as the UK has set a tentative date of May 17 to relaunch international travel.

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. This has created massive pent-up demand for summer holidays abroad.

“We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country… as safely as possible,” Prime Minister Boris 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”.

People heading to low-risk “green” countries will simply take a virus test before and after they travel, the government said.

But those going to amber or red countries will have to self-isolate or quarantine afterwards.

Currently people arriving in the UK from abroad are required to self-isolate for 10 days.

British nationals who arrive from a banned “red list” of high-risk countries face costly quarantine in government-approved hotels.

The government urged people not to book summer holidays, saying it was “too early to predict” which would be the green-lighted countries.

The government has announced it will allow a number of people to attend public events such as football matches from this month in trials of a virus certification system.

Also Read: Abortion: I lived in shame, guilt for years, says singer Bez’s wife

But it has not made clear whether it will issue “virus passports” for international travel, an idea backed by many tourism-dependent countries and airlines but opposed by more than 70 UK MPs.

The UK has already given out more than 31 million first vaccine doses and over 5 million second doses.

The rollout has far outstripped popular holiday destinations such as France.

This has boosted the public mood after more than 126,000 people died from the virus in the United Kingdom, the highest toll in Europe.

From Thursday, those living in England will be able to access two free rapid virus tests per week, a measure aimed at curbing symptom-free virus spread.

This will make such tests far more accessible than currently. “More cases will be detected, breaking chains of transmission and saving lives,” the government said Monday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to take up the offer, saying “getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly”.

The lateral flow tests will be available at workplaces, community sites, schools and colleges. People will also be able to order delivery of the tests.

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