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COVID cases 'drop significantly' in Africa: WHO

3D virus illustration
© Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain
Cases of COVID have plummeted in Africa and deaths are declining for the first time since the Omicron-dominated fourth wave of the virus reached its peak, the UN said Thursday.

Describing the 56-day flareup as Africa's "shortest upsurge yet," the World Health Organization's African regional office said newly reported cases fell by 20 percent in the week to Sunday, while notified deaths dropped by eight percent.

In a statement issued after a weekly press briefing, the office also said South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected, had seen cases trending downward over the past four weeks.

Comment: Africa is a good example of the efficiency and also the danger of new mRNA vaccines.

Countries with the highest percentage of vaccinated population have the highest spike in new cases and highest percentage of hospitalizations and mortality. Israel is one good example.

See also:


Magnify

Useless rapid antigen tests under the magnifying glass

The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the German medical regulatory body and research institution for vaccines and biomedicines, which is also a WHO Collaborating Centre for quality assurance, has found out that 92 percent of rapid antigen tests are worthless.

rapid antigen test
© ABC News/Tara Cassidy
PEI evaluated 245 rapid antigen tests and the results were shocking: Only eight percent of them show valid results. This is according to an article published on January 16 by the website ScienceFiles.

There is a list of rapid antigen tests maintained by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM). According to the article, 245 rapid antigen tests from a wide variety of manufacturers were included on this list. These tests have been a money tree for some since rapid tests are used extensively.

The scientists examining the accuracy of the tests believe that in the face of the alleged pandemic, rapid antigen tests should be considered as a very important diagnostic tool. The article explained however that the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices apparently did not look too closely and obviously included many on its list of tests currently available on the market.

Comment: Remember that the case numbers you hear about constantly in the news from these highly inaccurate antigen and PCR tests.


People

Doug Ford to loosen Ontario COVID-19 restrictions starting Jan. 31

GoodLife Fitness
© GEOFF ROBINS /AFP via Getty Images
A woman walks by a closed GoodLife Fitness centre in Toronto on Jan. 5.
Ontario will soon begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, starting by boosting the size of social gathering and reopening businesses such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas with capacity limits, with an eye to lifting all constraints by mid-March.

Premier Doug Ford said Thursday he's announcing a phased reopening plan because public health indicators are starting to show signs of improvement.

"We can be confident that the worst is behind us," he said.

"While we can be confident in how far we've come, I want to be crystal clear: we're not out of the woods yet. The coming weeks will continue to pose real challenges, especially to our hospitals."

The rate of new hospital admissions is slowing, Ford said, and the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests has dropped significantly from early this month, when the province placed the most recent round of restrictions on businesses and moved schools online for two weeks.

Syringe

Austria poised to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for all adults

protests COVID-19 vaccination Austria
© AP Photo/Lisa Leutner
A man protests on the street against the compulsory COVID-19 vaccination that will be decided in the parliament today in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.
Austria said Thursday it would try to entice COVID-19 vaccine holdouts with a prize lottery, a move to sweeten perspectives around the shots before parliament approves a national vaccine mandate.

The lottery offers a ticket for each shot an Austrian has received — a boosted person would get three — and every 10th ticket will come with a 500 euro ($568) voucher that can be used in "retail, tourism, hospitality, services, culture and sport," Chancellor Karl Nehammer said.

The chancellor is trying to soften attitudes before lawmakers make the shots compulsory.

Under the plan, the vaccine will be mandatory for all adults, with exceptions for pregnant women and people who cannot get the shots for medical reasons. An earlier draft called for making the vaccine mandatory for those 14 and older but it was revised to 18 and up.

Comment: RT reports:
An overwhelming majority of Austrian MPs voted on Thursday to force their citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19, with those who refuse facing fines of up to 3,600 euros ($4,000).

After 137 MPs voted for compulsory vaccination and only 33 opposed, the bill now heads to the upper house to be debated and approved. As Austria's governing parties - a coalition of the center-right People's Party and the Greens - hold a majority in this chamber, its passage is virtually guaranteed.

The right-wing Freedom Party was the only party to oppose the mandate in parliament.

[...]

The law will empower authorities to keep a database of every citizen's vaccination status and the expiry date of said status, which can be searched by officials. The law is to remain in place until 2024.

Compulsory vaccination was first proposed by the Austrian government back in November, and the announcement triggered mass protests. At the time, Austria had one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, which has since climbed to above the EU average. At present, just over 70% of Austrians are fully vaccinated, according to figures from the World Health Organization.



Light Saber

Foiled again: Texas judge blocks Biden federal worker vaccine mandate

Texas protest vaccine
A U.S. judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction on Friday barring the federal government from enforcing President Joe Biden's requirement that federal workers without qualifying medical or religious exemptions be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Judge Jeffrey Brown, who was appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of Texas by then-President Donald Trump, ruled that opponents of Biden's vaccination mandate for federal employees were likely to succeed at trial and blocked the government from enforcing the requirement.

Comment: Other states have taken notice:




Bad Guys

Unsettling: Study finds autocracies more trusted than democracies

autocracy dictionary
© iStock
Public confidence in democratic governments has fallen amid the pandemic

A global survey has found that autocracies have become increasingly trusted, while confidence in democracies has fallen. One of the reasons given is the alleged poor management of the Covid-19 pandemic in democratic states.

In a study published this week, the Edelman Trust Barometer, a communications group that has polled thousands of people over two decades, said its most recent survey showed a concerning lack of trust in democratically elected governments.

The group, which interviewed over 36,000 respondents in 28 countries between November 1-24, found German institutions were the biggest losers, as their trust rating was down seven points on the previous year to 46.

Bullseye

Joe Rogan and James Lindsay point out how the leftist tactic of smearing everyone they disagree with as 'alt-right'

joe rogan james lindsay
© The Joe Rogan Experience
Joe Rogan and James Lindsay
On the latest episode of his podcast, Joe Rogan spoke with James Lindsay about why so many people are deemed alt-right by the left.

On Thursday, Joe Rogan released the latest episode of his podcast. Sitting across the table this time was academic and fellow podcaster James Lindsay, who along with Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose gained notoriety for exposing academia in the now infamous grievance study affair.

Rogan and Lindsay touched on many topics throughout the interview, including the left's desire to label more and more people "alt-right."

Comment: More on James Lindsay:


Attention

Immense explosion rocks western Ghana, dozens feared dead

explosion ghana
© Joseph Kabenlah Amihere via Reuters
A screengrab of the crater after the blast. The blast, which flattened hundreds of buildings and killed at least 17 people, was the result of a mining explosive vehicle colliding with a motorcycle
Dozens of people are feared dead after a truck carrying mining explosives collided with a motorcycle in western Ghana, sparking an explosion that has left hundreds of buildings destroyed.

The accident happened around noon in Apiate, near the mining city of Bogoso, 300km (180 miles) west of the West African country's capital, Accra.

A large crater was left following the explosion, after a truck that was travelling between two goldmines in the mineral-rich region hit a motorcycle.

The exact number of casualties has not been officially confirmed, but the head of the Prestea Huni-Valley municipal government where the explosion took place, Isaac Dsamani, told local media that officials had counted "about 17 dead bodies" so far.

Comment: Although perhaps not related, it does bring to mind the incident in Akure, Nigeria, in 2020: Massive explosion leaves giant crater in Akure, Nigeria, dozens of buildings damaged - UPDATE: Expert suspects METEOR IMPACT

Other explosions in the news in just the last few months:


Boat

Side hustle: China rewards fishermen for capturing 'foreign' spy drones

china fisherman drone capture
© Nantong TV
Footage from a Chinese TV report shows the national security authority displaying pictures of the seven alleged espionage devices, which were said to have been found off the eastern coast
Authorities reward over a dozen individuals for capturing 10 suspicious devices since 2020

Eleven fishermen and five "related personnel" reaped the rewards of their vigilance on Monday - quite literally - with authorities in China's Jiangsu Province remunerating them generously for capturing a total of 10 "suspicious foreign devices with spying functions in Chinese territorial waters since 2020." According to China's state-affiliated Global Times outlet, upon technical investigation all 10 drones turned out be foreign-made and "posing a threat to national security."

There have been a number of similar cases in recent years. In fact, Jiangsu Province, where the latest monetary rewards were handed out, has been holding annual conferences since 2016, aimed at both increasing residents' awareness and praising those who have intercepted suspicious devices.

People 2

'F*** Dr. Phil': Leftists freak out about Matt Walsh appearing on 'Dr. Phil' to discuss radical gender theory

matt walsh dr. phil
© Courtesy Of Matt Walsh
"And f*** [Dr. Phil] for having Matt Walsh on his show and giving him a platform..."

Leftists are incensed this week at Dr. Phil for daring to have a conservative, Daily Wire host and author Matt Walsh, on his show to offer a differing opinion on pervasive radical left-wing gender theory.

The general outrage was aimed at Walsh, who was smeared as a bigot for stating biological realities and defending women-only spaces, but also at Dr. Phil for "platforming" Walsh, who holds an opinion shared by most Americans.