The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization says scientific disagreements over COVID-19 interventions — like masks and vaccines — shouldn’t be treated as “some kind of political football,” but acknowledged that “it isn’t easy for everyone to be on message all the time, reports AP.
Asked to respond to the open disagreements between U.S. President Donald Trump and the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the effectiveness of masks and when a coronavirus vaccine might be available, Dr. Michael Ryan said “it is important that we have consistent messaging from all levels."
“This is complicated stuff,” Ryan said at a press briefing on Thursday.
“What is important is that governments (and) scientific institutions step back, review the evidence and give us the most comprehensive, easy-to-understand...information so that people can take the appropriate action.”
He warned against turning scientific messaging into “some kind of political football.”
WHO has previously said it is possible there may be enough data from ongoing trials into coronavirus vaccines to know by the end of the year if one of the experimental shots is safe and effective enough to use globally.
On Wednesday, Trump predicted this could happen next month and that a mass vaccination campaign in the U.S. could start shortly afterward.
He called the U.S. CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield “confused” for projecting a longer timeline.
India’s defense minister said Thursday that they urged Beijing to sincerely implement an understanding they reached previously to completely disengage forces from the Ladakh region.
Rajnath Singh told the upper house of Parliament that China has amassed troops and weapons in Ladakh in violation of agreements reached in the 1990s and is trying to alter the status quo in the region through aggressive actions.
He said that was not acceptable and that India is seeking a peaceful resolution through talks.
The two countries' foreign ministers met in Moscow a week ago and agreed to de escalate tensions in Ladakh, but Singh's words to Parliament suggested they have not significantly declined and that settling the impasse will be a long process.
He also said India has counter-deployed troops that have foiled “transgression attempts by China.”
“We should be confident that our armed forces will handle the situation successfully,” Singh said.
He said it was "apparent from Chinese activities that their words don’t match their actions."
In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin again laid the onus on India to relieve the tensions and said Chinese border troops have “always strictly abided by the (agreements) between the two countries and are committed to safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty and maintaining peace and tranquility in the border areas.”
“What is pressing now is that the Indian side should immediately correct its mistake, disengage on the ground as soon as possible and take concrete actions to ease the tension and lower the temperature along the border,” Wang said at a daily briefing.
Relations between the two countries have often been strained, partly due to their undemarcated border.
At least four people including three suspected rebels and a woman were killed in a gunbattle between anti-India rebels and government forces in Kashmir on Thursday, officials said.
The gunfight erupted shortly after scores of counterinsurgency police and soldiers launched an operation based on a tip about the presence of militants in a Srinagar neighborhood, Pankaj Singh, an Indian paramilitary spokesman, said, reports AP.
Singh said the fighting left three militants dead and a paramilitary officer wounded.
He said a local woman aged about 45 was also killed in the exchange of gunfire.
There were no other details immediately available about the civilian’s killing.
As the fighting raged, many residents marched near the site in solidarity with the rebels and chanted slogans seeking an end to Indian rule over the region. Government forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the stone-throwing protesters.
No casualties were immediately reported in the clashes.
India and Pakistan claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
Armed rebels have fought Indian rule since 1989, which New Delhi calls Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris call it a legitimate freedom struggle.
Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.
One person was killed when the Hurricane Sally lumbered ashore near the Florida-Alabama line on Wednesday with 105 mph (165 kph) winds and rain measured in feet, not inches, swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds as it pushed inland for what could be a slow and disastrous drenching across the Deep South.
The death happened in Orange Beach, Alabama, according to Mayor Tony Kennon, who also told The Associated Press that one person was missing, reports AP.
Kennon said he couldn't immediately release details.
Moving at just 3 mph (5 kph), or about as fast as a person can walk, the storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m. close to Gulf Shores, Alabama, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Pensacola, Florida.
It accelerated to a light jog as it battered the Pensacola and Mobile, Alabama, metropolitan areas encompassing nearly 1 million people.
Sally cast boats onto land or sank them at the dock, flattened palm trees, peeled away roofs, blew down signs and knocked out power to more than 540,000 homes and businesses. A replica of Christopher Columbus’ ship the Nina that had been docked at the Pensacola waterfront was missing, police said.
Sally tore loose a barge-mounted construction crane, which then smashed into the new Three Mile Bridge over Pensacola Bay, causing a section of the year-old span to collapse, authorities said. The storm also ripped away a large section of a fishing pier at Alabama’s Gulf State Park on the very day a ribbon-cutting had been scheduled following a $2.4 million renovation.
By the afternoon, authorities in Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, said at least 377 people had been rescued from flooded areas. More than 40 people trapped by high water were brought to safety within a single hour, including a family of four found in a tree, Sheriff David Morgan said.
Authorities in Pensacola said 200 National Guard members would arrive Thursday to help. Curfews were announced in Escambia County and in some coastal Alabama towns.
Sally turned some Pensacola streets into white-capped rivers early Wednesday. Sodden debris and flooded cars were left behind as the water receded.
By early afternoon, Sally had weakened into a tropical storm. It was downgraded to a depression late Wednesday night with 35 mph (55 kph) sustained winds. The National Weather Service said the system was still forecast to dump 4 inches (10 centimeters) to 8 inches (29 centimeters) of rain in southeast Alabama and central Georgia by Thursday night, with up to 1 foot (30.48 centimeters) in some spots.
At least eight waterways in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle were expected to hit their major flood levels by Thursday. Some of the crests could break records, submerge bridges and flood some homes, the National Weather Service warned.
Morgan, the Escambia County sheriff, estimated thousands would need to flee rising waters in the coming days. Escambia officials urged residents to rely on text messages for contacting family and friends to keep cellphone service open for 911 calls.
“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate,” the sheriff said. “It's going to be a tremendous operation over the next several days.”
West of Pensacola, in Perdido Key, Florida, Joe Mirable arrived at his real estate business to find the two-story building shattered. Digging through the ruins, Mirable pointed out a binder labeled “Hurricane Action Plan.”
“I think the professionals got this one wrong,” he said before the wind blew away his hat.
More than 2 feet (61 centimeters) of rain was recorded near Naval Air Station Pensacola, and nearly 3 feet (1 meter) of water covered streets in downtown Pensacola, the National Weather Service reported.
“It’s not common that you start measuring rainfall in feet,” said forecaster David Eversole.
Sally was the second hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast in less than three weeks and the latest to blow in during one of the busiest hurricane seasons ever. Forecasters have nearly run through the alphabet of storm names with 2 1/2 months still to go. At the start of the week, Sally was one of a record-tying five storms churning simultaneously in the Atlantic basin.
Like the wildfires raging on the West Coast, the onslaught of hurricanes has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing slower, rainier, more powerful and more destructive storms.
An emergency crew rescued two people on Dauphin Island, Alabama, after the hurricane ripped the roof off their home and the rest of the house began to crumble. Mayor Jeff Collier said no one was injured.
In Orange Beach, Alabama, the wind blew out the walls in one corner of a condominium building, exposing at least five floors. At least 50 people were rescued from flooded homes and taken to shelters, Mayor Tony Kennon said.
India on Thursday registered 97,894 new coronavirus cases, the biggest single-day spike, in the past 24 hours, bringing the total caseload to more than 5.1 million.
The Health Ministry on Thursday said that the new cases raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.1 million since the pandemic began, reports AP.
Besides, the country also reported 1,132 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total death tally to 83,198 as of Thursday.
At the current rate of infection, India is expected within weeks to surpass the 6.6 million reported cases in the United States, currently the country with the most reported infections.
Nationwide, India is testing more than 1 million samples per day.
Global coronavirus cases surged past 29,760,579 as of Thursday morning, according to the Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The university's tracker said 939,175 people have died from the virus worldwide.
Read Also: Coronavirus: Global cases reach 29,760,579