The total number of recorded Covid-19 cases around the world has now surpassed 683 million. According to the latest global data, the total Covid-19 case count is 683,393,282, while the death toll reached 6,827,486 this morning. The US has reported 106,109,844 Covid-19 cases so far, while 1,153,816 people have died from the virus in the country — both highest counts globally. India logged 1,890 new coronavirus cases, the highest in 149 days, while the active cases increased to 9,433, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday. Read: Covid-19 survivors are at high risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases: Study The country recorded 2,208 cases in a single day on October 28 last year. The death count has increased to 530,831 with seven deaths. According to the ministry data, the Covid-19 case tally was recorded at 44,704,147. Meanwhile, France and Germany have registered 39,758,771 and 38,338,298 Covid-19 cases so far, occupying the third and fourth positions in the world number-wise, and 165,534 and 170,493 people have died in the European countries, as per Worldometer. Read More: China to reopen to tourists, resume all visas Wednesday Covid-19 situation in Bangladesh Bangladesh reported seven more Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours till Monday (March 27, 2023) morning. With the new numbers, the country's total caseload rose to 2,038,008, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). However, the official death toll from Covid-19 remained unchanged at 29,445 as no new fatalities were reported in Bangladesh. Read More: Ignoring experts, China's sudden zero-COVID exit cost lives
The pandemic took a harsh toll on U.S. teen girls’ mental health, with almost 60% reporting feelings of persistent sadness or hopelessness, according to a government survey released Monday that bolsters earlier data. Sexual violence, suicidal thoughts, suicidal behavior and other mental health woes affected many teens regardless of race or ethnicity, but girls and LGBTQ youth fared the worst on most measures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. More than 17,000 U.S. high school students were surveyed in class in the fall of 2021. In 30 years of collecting similar data, “we’ve never seen this kind of devastating, consistent findings," said Kathleen Ethier, director of CDC’s adolescent and school health division. “There’s no question young people are telling us they are in crisis. The data really call on us to act." The research found: — Among girls, 30% said they seriously considered attempting suicide, double the rate among boys and up almost 60% from a decade ago. — Almost 20% of girls reported experiencing rape or other sexual violence in the previous year, also an increase over previous years. — Almost half of LGBTQ students said they had seriously considered a suicide attempt. Also Read: National Mental Health Strategy 2020-2030: Towards ensuring quality mental healthcare — More than a quarter of American Indians and Alaska Natives said they had seriously considered a suicide attempt — higher than other races and ethnicities. — Feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness affected more than one-third of kids of all races and ethnicities and increased over previous years. — Recent poor mental health was reported by half of LGBTQ kids and almost one-third of American Indian and Alaska Native youth. The results echo previous surveys and reports and many of the trends began before the pandemic. But isolation, online schooling and increased reliance on social media during the pandemic made things worse for many kids, mental health experts say. The results “reflect so many decades of neglect towards mental health, for kids in particular," said Mitch Prinstein, the American Psychological Association’s chief science officer. “Suicide has been the second- or third-leading cause of death for young people between 10 and 24 years for decades now," and attempts are typically more common in girls, he said. Prinstein noted that anxiety and depression tend to be more common in teen girls than boys, and pandemic isolation may have exacerbated that. Comprehensive reform in how society manages mental health is needed, Prinstein said. In schools, kids should be taught ways to manage stress and strife, just as they are taught about exercise for physical disease prevention, he said. In low-income areas, where adverse childhood experiences were high before the pandemic, the crisis has been compounded by a shortage of school staff and mental health professionals, experts say. School districts around the country have used federal pandemic money to hire more mental health specialists, if they can find them, but say they are stretched thin and that students who need expert care outside of school often can’t get it because therapists are overburdened and have long waitlists. ___ AP writer Jocelyn Gecker contributed in San Francisco contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
The overall number of Covid-19 cases in the world is now approaching 678 million. According to the latest global data, the total Covid-19 case count amounted to 677,724,407 while the death toll from the virus reached 6,783,338 this morning (February 14, 2023). The US has reported 104,787,053 Covid-19 cases so far, while 1,140,209 people have died from the virus in the country — both highest counts globally. India reported 82 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, the union health ministry data showed on Monday. While active cases declined to 1,837, the total number of cases has reached 44.7 million so far. Read: US lauds countries, partners including Bangladesh who participated in COVID-19 Global Action Plan Meanwhile, France has registered 39,565,489 Covid-19 cases so far, occupying the third position in the world number-wise, while 164,587 people have died in the country, as per Worldometer. Covid-19 situation in Bangladesh Bangladesh reported one more Covid-linked death and 9 cases in the 24 hours till Monday morning. With the new numbers, the country's total fatalities rose to 29,445 and caseload to 2,037,688, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). The daily Covid-19 test positivity rate increased to 0.45 percent from Sunday's 0.28 as 2,022 samples were tested. Read More: Covid-19: Bangladesh logs 8 more cases in 24 hours.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday called for concerted global efforts and partnerships to create a global health strategy to respond to future health threats by taking lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic. He made the call while delivering his remarks at the virtual COVID-19 Global Action Plan (GAP) Foreign Ministerial Meeting convened by the State Secretary of the USA, Antony J. Blinken. The meeting was moderated by Coordinator for Global COVID-19 Response and Health Security of the US State Department Mary Beth Goodman. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered the opening remarks followed by remarks from the Foreign Ministers of Japan – Yoshimasa Hayashi, MinisterMomen, Germany - Annalena Baerbock, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Foreign Ministers and High representatives of other 20 countries and organizations intervened in the meeting. Momen commended the initiatives and efforts of Secretary Blinken and the Government of the USA as well as contributions by the partners on this platform. Foreign Minister expressed his satisfaction with the multilateral processes including initiatives like ACT-A and COVAX under the guidance of WHO to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with this, he also emphasized expanding the capacity of the healthcare sector and injecting sustained and significant funds for capacity building, especially in lower-income countries. Emphasizing the critical role of vaccines in combating the pandemic, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister stressed making vaccines affordable and accessible to all by declaring it 'Global Public Goods'. He also urged the developed countries for their “Moral Commitment” to support the countries having relatively advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing bases like Bangladesh to develop their own capacity to produce vaccines through granting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and appropriate provisions for technology transfer. Momen highlighted Bangladesh’s tremendous success in COVID management centred on saving lives, supporting livelihoods- especially of the most vulnerable ones, and posting quick economic recovery under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He also stated that Bangladesh surpassed the target set by WHO to vaccinate 70% of the population and is currently on course to reach the landmark of 90%. He added that Bangladesh is open to sharing the experience of its success story of the public health system’s response towards mass vaccination and hospital care. The Foreign Minister further stressed bilateral, regional and global cooperation to continue the work on Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPR) in the coming days to combat any such future threat. He also expressed the readiness of Bangladesh to contribute to platforms like GAP. He appreciated the idea of organizing the 'Covid-19 Pandemic Summit' to remember that the world had to witness and handle a big global crisis all of a sudden, and the international community stood together to address such an emergency health situation to ensure greater global good. A joint statement was issued at the end of the Ministerial which emphasised the importance of mutual cooperation among GAP partners to combat future health threats. It also reflected upon lessons learned to promote future collaboration to prevent, detect and respond to the next global health security threat. Global Action Plan (GAP) Foreign Ministerial is a platform of foreign ministers which was launched one year ago with the objective of enhancing international coordination to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen readiness for future pandemic threats. The first meeting of the platform was held on 10th November 2021 presided by the US Secretary of State. The next meeting was held on 19th July 2022, presided over jointly by the US Secretary of State and the Japanese Foreign Minister. As part of Bangladesh’s active engagements, Bangladesh co-hosted the 3rd meeting in New York on 23rd September 2022 along with USA, Spain and Botswana. Foreign Minister represented Bangladesh in all the meetings. Also read: US lauds countries, partners including Bangladesh who participated in COVID-19 Global Action Plan
Microsoft is cutting 10,000 workers, almost 5% of its workforce, joining other tech companies that have scaled back their pandemic-era expansions. The company said in a regulatory filing Wednesday (January 18, 2023) that the layoffs were a response to “macroeconomic conditions and changing customer priorities.” The Redmond, Washington-based software giant said it will also be making changes to its hardware portfolio and consolidating its leased office locations. Microsoft is cutting far fewer jobs than it had added during the COVID-19 pandemic as it responded to a boom in demand for its workplace software and cloud computing services with so many people working and studying from home. Read More: Recession-Proof Your Career With Tech Skills “A big part of this is just overexuberance in hiring,” said Joshua White, a finance professor at Vanderbilt University. Microsoft’s workforce expanded by about 36% in the two fiscal years following the emergence of the pandemic, growing from 163,000 workers at the end of June 2020, to 221,000 in June 2022. The layoffs represent “less than 5 percent of our total employee base, with some notifications happening today,” CEO Satya Nadella said in an email to employees. “While we are eliminating roles in some areas, we will continue to hire in key strategic areas,” Nadella said. He emphasized the importance of building a “new computer platform” using advances in artificial intelligence. Read More: 11 Virtual Meeting Etiquette Rules for Professionals He said customers that were accelerating their spending on digital technology during the pandemic are now trying to “optimize their digital spend to do more with less.” “We’re also seeing organizations in every industry and geography exercise caution as some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating one,” Nadella wrote. Other tech companies have also been trimming jobs amid concerns about an economic slowdown. Amazon and business software maker Salesforce earlier this month announced major job cuts as they prune payrolls that rapidly expanded during the pandemic lockdown. Read More: Malta Work Permit Visa for Bangladeshi Citizens Amazon said that it will be cutting about 18,000 positions and began notifying affected employees Wednesday in the U.S., Canada and Costa Rica, with other regions to follow, according to emails from executives. The job cuts, which began in November, are the largest set of layoffs in the Seattle company’s history, although just a fraction of its 1.5 million global workforce. Also Wednesday, the U.K.-based cybersecurity firm Sophos confirmed it had laid off 10% of its global workforce — 450 employees — on Tuesday. Sophos, known for threat intelligence and detection, was acquired in 2020 by the private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $3.9 billion. Facebook parent Meta is laying off 11,000 people, about 13% of its workforce. And Elon Musk, the new Twitter CEO, has slashed the company’s workforce. Nadella made no direct mention of the layoffs on Wednesday when he put in an appearance at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting happening this week in Davos, Switzerland. Read More: Career Counseling: 10 Reasons you need a Career Coach When asked by the forum’s founder Klaus Schwab on what tech layoffs meant for the industry’s business model, Nadella said companies that boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic are now seeing “normalization” of that demand. “Quite frankly, we in the tech industry will also have to get efficient, right?” Nadella said. “It’s not about everyone else doing more with less. We will have to do more with less. So we will have to show our own productivity gains with our own sort of technology.” Microsoft declined to answer questions about where the layoffs and office closures would be concentrated. The company sent notice to Washington state employment officials Wednesday that it was cutting 878 workers at its offices in Redmond and the nearby cities of Bellevue and Issaquah. As of June, it had 122,000 workers in the U.S. and 99,000 elsewhere. Read More: UNV Program: How to become a UN Volunteer from Bangladesh White, the Vanderbilt professor, said all industries are looking to cut costs ahead of a possible recession but tech companies could be particularly sensitive to the rapid rise in interest rates, a tool that has been used aggressively in recent months by the Federal Reserve in its fight against inflation. “This hits tech companies a little harder than it does industrials or consumer staples because a huge portion of Microsoft’s value is on projects with cash flows that won’t pay off for several years," he said. Among the projects that have been attracting attention recently is Microsoft’s investment in its San Francisco startup partner OpenAI, maker of the writing tool ChatGPT and other AI systems that can generate readable text, images and computer code. Microsoft, which owns the Xbox game business, also faces regulatory uncertainty in the U.S. and Europe delaying its planned $68.7 billion takeover of video game company Activision Blizzard, which had about 9,800 employees as of a year ago. Read More: Interview Anxiety: How to calm your nerves and avoid stress
The overall number of global Covid-19 cases is gradually nearing 672 million, with the sudden surge of the virus’ Omicron sub-variant in Asia and some other parts of the world. According to the latest global data, the total Covid-19 case count mounted to 671,889,386 while the death toll from the virus reached 6,733,572 this morning. The US has recorded 103,614,411 Covid-19 cases so far, while 1,125,895 people have died from the virus in the country, both highest counts around the world. Read: China reports 60,000 COVID-related deaths since early December India recorded 89 new coronavirus infections, the lowest since March 27, 2020, while the active cases declined to 2,035, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday. The Covid-19 case tally for the country stood at 4.46 crore (4,46,81,233) while the death counts were at 5,30,726. Meanwhile, France has registered 39,461,387 Covid-19 cases so far, occupying the third position in the world, while 163,562 people have died in the country, as per the Worldometer. Covid-19 situation in Bangladesh Bangladesh reported nine more Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours till Tuesday morning. Read: Covid-19: Bangladesh logs 9 more cases With the new number, the country's total caseload rose to 2,037,386, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). However, the official death toll from the disease remained unchanged at 29,441 as no new fatalities were reported.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said the Awami League government will lend all sorts of cooperation to lessen the sufferings of the people due to the economic recession emerging from the coronavirus pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war. “The Awami League government will do whatever is needed to ease the pain of the common people,” she said. The Prime Minister said this while giving her introductory speech at the first joint meeting of the newly elected Awami League National Committee, Central Working Committee and Advisory Council. She presided over the meeting that took place at the Tungipara Awami League office in Gopalganj district, the birthplace of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Hasina said that the Awami League government, the party, its leaders and activists are always beside the distressed people. Read: Stay alert against anarchy ahead of next election: PM Hasina to the Nation “Our aim is to ensure a better life for the people of this country, and we will work tirelessly to materialise that aim,” she said. She also said that Awami League and its leaders and activists are pledge-bound for that. The Prime Minister said that Bangladesh is advancing towards socioeconomic development and changes are taking place in the socioeconomic status of the people of Bangladesh. “We have been able to ensure food for people up to the grassroots level. We are providing homes for the homeless and landless people. No one will be homeless, landless and addressless in the land of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” she said. She said that due to the coronavirus and the Ukraine-Russia war the whole world plunged into an economic recession. “But by the grace of Almighty we have been able to continue the wheels of the economy till now in the country,” she said. She briefly described various development activities of the government for overall advancement of the country as well as ensuring social safety net programmes. Read: PM visits places reminiscent of Bangamata Fazilatunnesa in Khulna The Prime Minister said that due to the war the government has to buy various items like edible oil, fuel, sugar, lentils, wheat and corn at higher prices to provide those to the poor, lower income people at fair prices. She also mentioned that the government is providing various essential food items totally free to the people across the country. “We are spending a huge amount of money in this regard just to lessen the burden of the common people whatever the price of those items in the world market,” she said. She again urged all to utilise their arable lands to produce something no matter whatever the quantity is. “Many countries are suffering from food crisis, many countries want to procure food items from us, we can also provide the food if we can utilise our lands properly,” she said.In this connection she said that the Awami League government will lend all kinds of support to produce foods in the country. The prime minister visited Puber Beel under Patgati Union in the morning to witness how vegetables and other crops are being cultivated on floating beds where she once again asked the countrymen to cultivate all the fallow lands. Hasina was elected President of Bangladesh Awami League for the 10th consecutive term, while Obaidul Qader was re-elected as general secretary for the third time in the 22nd National Council held on December 24 in Dhaka.
As COVID-19 rips through China, other countries and the World Health Organization are calling on its government to share more comprehensive data on the outbreak. Some even say many of the numbers it's reporting are meaningless. Without basic data like the number of deaths, infections and severe cases, governments elsewhere have instituted virus testing requirements for travelers from China. Beijing has said the measures aren't science-based and threatened countermeasures. Of greatest concern is whether new variants will emerge from the mass infection unfolding in China and spread to other countries. The delta and omicron variants developed in places that also had large outbreaks, which can be a breeding ground for new variants. Read More: WHO 'continues to urge' China to share more data amid Covid surge Here's a look at what's going on with China's COVID-19 data: WHAT IS CHINA SHARING AND NOT SHARING? Chinese health authorities publish a daily count of new cases, severe cases and deaths, but those numbers include only officially confirmed cases and use a very narrow definition of COVID-related deaths. China is most certainly doing their own sampling studies but just not sharing them, said Ray Yip, who founded the U.S. Centers for Disease Control office in China. The nationwide tally for Thursday was 9,548 new cases and five deaths, but some local governments are releasing much higher estimates just for their jurisdictions. Zhejiang, a province on the east coast, said Tuesday it was seeing about 1 million new cases a day. If a variant emerges in an outbreak, it's found through genetic sequencing of the virus. Since the pandemic started, China has shared 4,144 sequences with GISAID, a global platform for coronavirus data. That's only 0.04% of its reported number of cases — a rate more than 100 times less than the United States and nearly four times less than neighboring Mongolia. Read more: Beijing threatens response to ‘unacceptable’ virus measures WHAT IS KNOWN AND WHAT CAN BE FIGURED OUT? So far, no new variants have shown up in the sequences shared by China. The versions fueling infections in China “closely resemble” those that have been seen in other parts of the world since July, GISAID said. Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who studies viruses at the Christian Medical College of Vellore in India, agreed, saying there wasn’t anything particularly worrisome in the data so far. That hasn't stopped at least 10 countries — including the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, the U.K., France, Spain and Italy — from announcing virus testing requirements for passengers from China. The European Union strongly encouraged all its member states to do so this week. Health officials have defended the testing as a surveillance measure that helps fill an information gap from China. This means countries can get a read on any changes in the virus through testing, even if they don’t have complete data from China. “We don’t need China to study that, all we have to do is to test all the people coming out of China,” said Yip, the former public health official. Canada and Belgium said they will look for viral particles in wastewater on planes arriving from China. “It is like an early warning system for authorities to anticipate whether there’s a surge of infections coming in,” said Dr. Khoo Yoong Khean, a scientific officer at the Duke-NUS Centre for Outbreak Preparedness in Singapore. Read More: EU, Beijing heading for collision over China’s COVID crisis IS CHINA SHARING ENOUGH INFORMATION? Chinese officials have repeatedly said they are sharing information, pointing to the sequences given to GISAID and meetings with the WHO. But WHO officials have repeatedly asked for more — not just on genetic sequencing but also on hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern this week about the risk to life in China. “Data remains essential for WHO to carry out regular, rapid and robust risk assessments of the global situation,” the head of the U.N. health agency said. The Chinese government often holds information from its own public, particularly anything that reflects negatively on the ruling Communist Party. State media have shied away from the dire reports of a spike in cremations and people racing from hospital to hospital to try to get treatment as the health system reaches capacity. Government officials have accused foreign media of hyping the situation. Khoo, noting that South Africa’s early warning about omicron led to bans on travelers from the country, said there is a need to foster an environment where countries can share data without fear of repercussions. Read More: Lack of info on China’s COVID-19 surge stirs global concern
The overall number of global Covid-19 cases is gradually nearing 667 million, with the sudden surge of the virus’ sub-variant in Asia. According to latest global data, the total case count mounted to 666,603,048 while the death toll from the virus reached 6,703,798 this morning. The US has recorded 102,963,370 cases so far, while 1,120,040 people have died from the virus in the country, both highest counts around the world. India reported 141 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, taking the caseload to 44,680,402. Read more: EU, Beijing heading for collision over China’s COVID crisis With no deaths reported across the country during this period, India’s Covid death toll remained static at 530,707. Meanwhile, France has registered 39,356,184 Covid-19 cases so far, occupying the third position, while 162,377 people have died in the country, as per the Worldometer. The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday that the agency is “concerned about the risk to life in China” amid the coronavirus’ explosive spread across the country and the lack of outbreak data from the Chinese government, reports AP. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency recently met with Chinese officials to underline the importance of sharing more details about Covid-19 issues including hospitalisation rates and genetic sequences, even as the pandemic continues to recede globally since it began in late 2019. Read more: Lack of info on China’s COVID-19 surge stirs global concern The WHO said Chinese scientists have now shared more than 770 sequences, with omicron subvariants BA.5 and its descendants accounting for more than 97% of all local infections. Globally, BA.5 variants comprise about 68% of all sequences. China reported 9,308 Covid cases in the last 24 hours till Thursday morning, taking the caseload to 461,825. With one more death, the country’s death toll stands at 5,259. Covid-19 in Bangladesh Bangladesh registered 21 more Covid-19 cases in 24 hours till Wednesday morning. With the new numbers, the country's total caseload rose to 2,037,208, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). Read More: Beijing threatens response to ‘unacceptable’ virus measures However, the official death toll from the disease remained unchanged at 29,440 as no new fatalities were reported. The daily case test positivity fell to 0.62 percent from Tuesday's 0.74 percent as 3,404 samples were tested during the period. The mortality and recovery rates remained unchanged at 1.45 percent and 97.59 per cent, respectively, it added. Read More: 1st case of Omicron sub-variant BF.7 detected in Bangladesh
The biblical town of Bethlehem marked what was shaping up to be a merry Christmas on Saturday, with thousands of visitors expected to descend upon the traditional birthplace of Jesus as it rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic. Tourism is the economic lifeblood of this town in the occupied West Bank, and for the past two years, the pandemic kept international visitors away. This year, visitors are back, hotels are full and shopkeepers have reported a brisk business in the runup to the holiday. “We are celebrating Christmas this year in a very much different way than last year,” said Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maayah. “We’re celebrating Christmas with pilgrims coming from all over the world.” At midafternoon, hundreds of people packed the Christmas Eve celebrations in Manger Square. Marching bands pounding on drums and playing bagpipes paraded through the area, and foreign tourists meandered about and snapped selfies with the town’s large Christmas tree behind them. Cool gray weather, along with an occasional rain shower, did little to dampen spirits. Daisy Lucas, a 38-year-old Filipina who works in Israel, said it was a dream come true to mark the holiday in such an important place. “As a Christian walking in the places in the Bible, it’s so overwhelming,” she said. ’This is the birthplace of Jesus Christ. As a Christian, that’s one achievement that’s on my bucket list.” Read more: A Christmas season without its traditional glow in Ukraine Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the top Roman Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land, arrived from Jerusalem through a checkpoint in Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. “We are living in very difficult challenges,” he said, noting the war in Ukraine and a recent wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence. “But the message of Christmas is a message of peace.” “It’s possible to change things,” he added. “We will be very clear in what we have to do and what we have to say in order to preserve the importance of unity and reconciliation among all.” Pizzaballa walked through Manger Square, waving to well-wishers. Later, he was to celebrate Midnight Mass in the nearby Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born. Billions of Christians were ushering in the holiday, wrapping up a tumultuous year characterized by conflict and violence in many parts of the world. In war-ravaged Ukraine, the glitzy lights normally spread over over Kyiv’s Sophia Square are missing due to restrictions and power cuts. Instead, a modest tree decorated with blue and yellow lights barely break the gloom of the square. Mayor Vitali Klitschko has called it the “ Tree of Invincibility.” In the United States, a wild winter storm continued to envelop much of the country, bringing blinding blizzards, freezing rain, flooding and life-threatening cold that created mayhem for those traveling for the holiday. Read more: Christmas celebrations tomorrow Present-day reality was visible at Manger Square as banners showing photos of Palestinian prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid were prominently displayed. The veteran prisoner died of cancer last week in an Israeli prison clinic after spending some 20 years behind bars for his conviction in the deaths of seven Israelis.