The Commerce Department will roll out a ban of transactions in the US using TikTok and WeChat starting from Sunday.
The order Friday was put into place, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, to “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.”
The government previously said that using and downloading the app to communicate won’t be a banned transaction, although messaging on the app “could be directly or indirectly impaired” by the ban, and people who use it for messaging won’t be subject to penalties.
Some security experts have raised concerns that ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese company that owns TikTok, would maintain access to information on the 100 million TikTok users in the United States, creating a security risk.
The United Nations is marking the first-ever International Equal Pay Day on Friday drawing attention to the gender pay gap and the systemic inequalities it is rooted in.
Despite decades of activism and dozens of laws on equal pay, women still earn less than 80 cents for every dollar men do. That figure is even lower for women with children, women of colour, women refugees and migrants and women with disabilities.
Women’s unequal status at work “feeds inequality” in other areas of their lives, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a message, reports UN News.
“Women’s jobs are less likely to come with benefits like health insurance and paid time off. Even when women are entitled to a pension, lower salaries mean lower payments in their old age,” he said.
Noting that equal pay laws have failed to address the problem, the UN chief called for greater effort to find solutions.
“We need to ask why women are relegated to lower-paid work; why professions that are female-dominated have lower salaries; why so many women work part-time; why women see their wages decrease with motherhood while men with children often enjoy a salary boost; and why women hit a ceiling in higher-earning professions,” he stressed.
The International Equal Pay Day, to be commemorated on September 18 annually, was established in 2019 by the UN General Assembly, which voiced deep concern over slow progress in women’s economic empowerment, the undervaluing of work traditionally held by women, and the difficulties in tackling pay inequality.
The General Assembly urged action to reach the goal of equal pay for work of equal value for all, and encouraged all stakeholders to continue to support the goal of equal pay for work of equal value.
Ending harmful gender stereotypes
Guterres also underlined the need to end harmful gender stereotypes and remove institutional barriers, as well as sharing family responsibilities equally.
“We need to recognise, redistribute, and value the unpaid care work that is disproportionately done by women,” he urged.
Such efforts are all the more urgent given signs that the gender pay gap may worsen due to COVID-19 and its fallout, including because so many women work in service, hospitality and informal sectors which have been hardest hit.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exploited and exposed inequalities of all kinds, including gender inequality. As we invest in recovery, we must take the opportunity to end pay discrimination against women,” said the Secretary-General.
“Equal pay is essential not only for women, but to build a world of dignity and justice for all,” he underlined.
Unequal pay a stubborn, universal problem
According to UN Women, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, in spite of significant progress in women’s education and higher female labour market participation rates in many countries, closing the gender pay gap has been too slow.
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At the current pace, it could take 257 years to achieve economic gender parity.
Women workers’ average pay is generally lower than men’s in all countries, across all sectors, for all levels of education, and age groups. While gender pay gap estimates can vary substantially across regions and even within countries, higher income countries tend to have lower levels of wage inequality compared to low and middle-income countries.
However, estimates of the gender pay gap understate the real extent of the issue, particularly in developing countries, because of a lack of information about informal economies, which are disproportionately made up of women workers, so the full picture is likely worse than what the available data shows us, says the UN agency.
Fresh restrictions on social gatherings in England appear to be on the cards as the British government seeks to suppress a sharp spike in new coronavirus infections.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Friday that the country has to “come together” over the coming weeks to get on top of the spike. He said the new transmissions are largely taking place in social settings and are already leading to a doubling in the number of people being hospitalised with the virus every seven to eight days.
“We want to avoid a national lockdown altogether, that is the last line of defense,” he told BBC radio. “It’s not the proposal that’s on the table.”
Following days of criticism over its testing strategy, there is mounting speculation that the government will announce fresh curbs on the hospitality sector, such as pubs and restaurants, potentially involving curfews — something that has already been put in place in areas under local lockdown restrictions, reports AP.
According to the BBC, the British government's chief scientific adviser and medical officer have warned of another serious coronavirus outbreak and many more deaths by the end of October if there were no further interventions soon.
Possible measures being considered under this so-called “circuit break” are asking some hospitality businesses to close, or limiting opening hours, for a period — potentially two weeks.
The testing that is being conducted has already seen a sharp increase in cases over the past couple of weeks that have raised fears that the country with Europe's deadliest coronavirus outbreak may be in for a second wave during the winter.
Critics say it has lost control of the virus and that’s why new measures are being introduced.
Already this week, a ban on social gatherings of more than six people, including children, has come into effect for England. The other nations of the UK — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have announced similar clampdowns on meetings. And there are several areas across the UK that are living under localised restrictions.
Tougher restrictions on people and businesses were also announced Friday for parts of the northwest of England, the West Midlands and west Yorkshire. And in a sign that the virus is here to stay through the winter, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, cancelled the annual fireworks display on the River Thames.
‘Doing everything possible’
The latest daily figures show that another 3,395 new confirmed cases were reported. That down on the previous day’s 3,991, the seven-day average is around double the level a couple of weeks back.
As the experience of the pandemic has shown, there's usually a lag of a week or two between a rise in cases and hospitalisations and then a subsequent lag for deaths.
It's clear that the increase in cases is leading to a higher number of people requiring acute care. The number of patients being treated for the disease in hospitals in England increased to 894 on Wednesday, up from 472 on Sept 1, according to the latest government statistics. The number of hospitalised patients on ventilators rose to 107 from 59 in the same period.
The worry is that deaths will start to increase markedly in the days and weeks ahead. Though the UK is recording far fewer deaths on a daily basis than it did earlier this year, it still registered another 21 on Thursday, taking the total of those having died 28 days after testing positive for COVID-10 to 41,705.
“This is a big moment for the country," Hancock said. “We are seeing an acceleration in the number of cases and we are also seeing that the number of people hospitalised with coronavirus is doubling every eight days.”
The government's strategy over the coming weeks, he said, is to contain the virus down as much as is possible whilst ensuring schools and workplaces remain open.
"And doing everything we possibly can for the cavalry that’s on the horizon of the vaccine and mass testing, and the treatments that, frankly, this country has done more than any other around the world to develop,” he said.
Julian Tang, an honorary associate professor in respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester, said the various measures in place or being considered, such as limiting gatherings to six or imposing curfews, can act as a “firebreak" in stopping the spread of the virus to the more susceptible groups of the population.
“But these are all incremental and each on their own or in patchy combinations may not be enough, in which case a full local lockdown may be needed to stop the spread," he added.
China is going to introduce new measures to improve the management of nursing homes and standardise the services for sound growth of the elderly care service industry, an official said Thursday.
The new measures contained a revised regulation on nursing homes that will take into effect on November 1.
The regulation includes provisions on the registration, supervision, operation and legal liabilities of nursing homes, Xiao Dengfeng, an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, told a press conference, reports Xinhua.
According to the new regulation, nursing homes will be categorised into for-profit and non-profit institutions, he said.
The document highlights the role of the government in running elderly care institutions to ensure that the basic needs of the poor population are met.
Nursing homes established by the government can be run by private organisations through entrusted management, leasing or other means.
The document also encourages extended facilities for the elderly, such as community elderly care and home-based services, Xiao said.
The document states that civil affairs departments should perform their supervision and inspection duties in accordance with the law.
They can take measures against elderly care institutions suspected of violations of laws and regulations.
As global Covid-19 cases surpassed 30 million, United Nations (UN) officials again urged the international community to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to tackle the situation.
Amid an ever-ballooning global caseload, Deputy UN Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on Thursday urged the world's major countries to work together to contain the pandemic, reports Xinhua.
"The most important (way) is to keep the dialogue going. What has happened with major powers and these tensions is in fact to miss the opportunity of being able to face this pandemic head-on with everyone on board," Mohammed told reporters, adding, "that really has taken us a few steps back."
"So what happens in the global arena, we must continue to close the gap between what is an unfortunate reality and what needs to be for our powers to come together to get the job done," she said.
The global case count reached 30,003,378, with a total of 942,989 deaths worldwide, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
The United States remained the worst-hit country in the world, with 6,669,322 infections and 197,554 deaths.
India recorded 5,118,253 cases, ranking second worldwide in terms of total confirmed cases.
Brazil followed India with 4,419,083 cases, and has registered the world's second biggest death toll of 134,106.
Countries with more than 650,000 cases also include Russia, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and South Africa, while other countries with over 35,000 deaths include India, Mexico, Britain and Italy, according to the CSSE.
Global cases topped 10 million on June 28, and rose to 20 million 43 days later. Then it took only 38 days for the number to grow from 20 million to 30 million.
On Thursday, Mexico's Foreign Affairs Ministry said Mexico and the US will continue to ban non-essential border crossings until October 21.
On the same day, Governor of Texas Greg Abbott nevertheless announced that Covid-19 restrictions will be loosened in most areas of the state from Monday.
The Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, the largest city in South America and one of the hardest hit cities by the pandemic, has also authorised the restart of in-person classes at universities from October 7.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is expanding risks to peace everywhere.
"It poses an enormous threat to people caught up in conflict, which is why I made an immediate appeal for a global ceasefire," he said at the UN peace bell ceremony on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the International Day of Peace, which is observed around the world each year on September 21.