Israel, fourth dose has 'only partial' efficacy against Omicron
Today's headlines: India pays tribute to the "super-mom" tiger, the country's most famous feline; Bangkok ready to decriminalise marijuana; three Iranian officials in Saudi Arabia at the headquarters of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation;the Russian Orthodox Church issues new prayers, one against "computer addiction"; "Covid-free" Turkmenistan in preventive lockdown.
The fourth dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are only "partially" effective against the Omicron variant of Covid-19, according to a December study by the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, involving 154 hospital employees and 120 other volunteers. Meanwhile, the Israeli government decided to reduce the quarantine period for positive cases from seven to five days.
HONG KONG - CHINA
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Cuhk) is set to impose the Communist Party's National Security Education Programme on all students from autumn 2022. The course "understanding today's China" will be preparatory for graduation. In the meantime, a growing number of academics and lecturers announced that they were withdrawing from universities in Hong Kong because they were against the new educational "regime".
The instant meals market increased by 145% in 2020 compared to the previous four years. The spike is linked to a greater presence of budget supermarkets and changing eating habits linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Exports in the sector grew by 323%, due to increased exposure abroad of South Korean food culture linked to 'pop' groups.
In an emotional ceremony, India has paid tribute to its 'super-mother' tiger, the country's most famous feline. The tiger died on the evening of 15 January resulting in an outpouring of grief in the nation. During her lifetime she gave birth to 29 cubs, a record for the species. She was also known as 'Collarwali' in Hindi, as she was the first feline to receive a radio collar in 2008.
Bangkok wants to decriminalise the use of marijuana, legalising its possession and consumption for recreational use. Thailand was also previously the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise cannabis as a medicine and in food and cosmetics. Currently, possession carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. The plant is considered a category 5 narcotic drug.
SAUDI ARABIA - IRAN
Three Iranian officials will reside in Saudi Arabia to represent Tehran in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). This will be the first time since 2016 that there will be a permanent presence in the Wahhabi kingdom since relations were disrupted by the embassy assault. The development could give new impetus to the talks and encourage the restoration of relations
The Russian Orthodox Church has composed new prayers, including one "against addition to computers and IT". The Synodal Commission for the Liturgy, presided over by the Metropolitan of Petrozavodsk Konstantin (Gorjanov), explains that among the "special" prayers are those before exams, for job searches, the end of studies and successful surgery.
The government has imposed a new "preventive" lockdown without warning. The inhabitants of Asghabat and other cities were faced with the sudden closure of markets, restaurants and public places. Those who are unable to pay their food quotas are obliged to donate 600 grams of blood per month.