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Coronavirus: Second COVID-19 wave faster than the first, warns top European scientist | World News


The coronavirus second wave is spreading more quickly than the first outbreak in spring, a top French scientist has warned, amid a growing resurgence of the virus across Europe.

“The virus is circulating more quickly… the resurgence of the pandemic started in August,” French government scientific adviser Arnaud Fontanet told BFM TV on Friday.

He said France had managed to bring the virus under control by the end of the June, and because the number of people being taken to hospital remained low until the end of August, authorities were given a false sense of security despite cases already going up at the time.

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Europe sees new COVID restrictions

“And then there was one cold week in September and all the indicators went the wrong way again all over Europe. The virus spreads better in the cold because we live more inside,” said the epidemiologist.

“Hospitals and medical staff will find themselves in a situation they’ve already known,” he said.

“We have a lot of tools to protect ourselves against the virus but we’re facing a difficult period,” he added, echoing Prime Minister Jean Castex, who warned of a “tough November” as the French government extended a curfew imposed last week on Paris and eight other cities to dozens more areas.

The 9pm to 6am curfew comes into force at midnight tonight and 46 million people – almost two-thirds of the country’s 67 million population – will be affected.

“A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious,” Mr Castex said at a news conference.

On Thursday, the country reported a record 41,622 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Parisiens in masks near the Eiffel Tower
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Parisiens in face masks near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where a stricter curfew is in force

The national figure now stands at more than one million infections, and more than 34,200 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been tracking the outbreak.

Countries across Europe, like in the UK, are returning to restrictive measures following a surge in cases.

Belgium, one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, further tightened restrictions on social contacts on Friday, banning fans from sports matches, limiting the number of people in cultural spaces and closing theme parks.

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European hospitals under COVID pressure

Although infection rates in Germany have been much lower than other COVID hotspots in Europe, cases have been accelerating and hit a record 11,247 on Thursday.

Across Europe, 20 countries set new daily case records on Wednesday, including the UK, which saw a rise of 26,688.

The Czech Republic, which is seeing Europe’s biggest surge in COVID-19 cases, has ordered most shops and services to close to curb the spread of the virus.

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The Netherlands has also returned to partial lockdown, closing bars and restaurants, but kept schools open.

And Spain became the first country in western Europe this week to record one million coronavirus cases – doubling its tally in just six weeks.



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Pumas coach Mario Ledesma fears isolation from rugby world after Springboks exit from Tri Nations


South Africa were more concerned with player welfare than the significant financial hit from their exit. It has left Australia, New Zealand and Argentina to battle it out in a truncated six-week competition.

Argentina could have felt aggrieved given they were already in Australia yet Ledesma refused to lash out at South Africa despite the fact his players have had less football under their belts.

The reason they gave, we are in no position to doubt.

Mario Ledesma on South Africa’s withdrawal

“The reason they gave, we are in no position to doubt,” Ledesma said. “From our point of view, we feel really humble and happy and privileged to be here and to be able to play with everything that’s going on in our country.

“South Africa’s been helping us a lot in the last decade. It’s a country that always gave us an opportunity.”

Speculation is rife that South Africa’s decision may have broader implications. There have been offers for them to play more Tests in the northern hemisphere, casting doubt on their presence in next year’s Rugby Championship and beyond.

While this Tri Nations tournament has been cooked up by SANZAAR at short notice, a future three-team competition does not appeal to broadcasters and could cause major headaches.

Ledesma and Mitchell chat to the media.

Ledesma and Mitchell chat to the media. Credit:Getty

Where that leaves Argentina, isolated on the other side of the world, is unclear.

“What I know is it’s a really difficult situation for us because if South Africa goes north and [Australia and New Zealand] play between each other, I don’t know where that leaves us,” Ledesma said. “We’re thinking very much about ourselves and trying to get a good competition for our boys to stay competitive. We were really happy to have a franchise [Jaguares in Super Rugby] and we’re trying to do the diligence to get a good competition for our players.

“It’s so dynamic and we’re having to adapt.”

The familiar face of Cheika in Argentina’s camp will keep Australia on their toes before the match on November 21 in Newcastle. Ledesma asked the former Wallabies boss to help out around the fringes, and assured him he would be allowed to sing the Australian national anthem in the coaching box.

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“It’s been really good for me and for the staff,” Ledesma said of Cheika’s involvement. “We have a very young group of players too and Cheik is someone that believes a lot in himself. He’s pumped, he’s excited. He hasn’t coached rugby in a while … he’s doing a bit of everything. We love working with each other.”

Mitchell, who played under Cheika at the 2015 World Cup, said his involvement would benefit the world’s 10th-ranked side.

“I think he’ll have a huge impact,” Mitchell said. “He’s just got a wealth of knowledge in many different aspects. Given Mario has got quite a young coaching staff … he’s one of the guys who will benefit having the experience of Michael Cheika who will get in his ear and give a different perspective or different approach.

“It’s more small bits of wisdom he can pass on, not anything too holistic. From my experience, he’s obviously good around a group, he likes to get involved out there and get his hands on the ball at training. I have no doubt he’s having a real positive impact on the squad.”

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US election 2020: Barack Obama attacks Donald Trump for ‘ignoring’ coronavirus pandemic at Joe Biden rally | World News


Barack Obama has said Donald Trump is “incapable of taking the job seriously” as he took aim at his successor during a drive-in campaign rally for the Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

With less than a fortnight to go until ballots close, Mr Obama made his first in-person campaign stop for his former vice president.

Speaking to a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – a key state for both Republicans and Democrats – the former commander-in-chief spent much of his time criticising his successor in the Oval Office.

He said: “Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us.

“He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”

The former president added: “America is a good and decent place, but we’ve just seen so much nonsense and noise that sometimes it’s hard to remember.”

He also said that President Trump was “incapable of taking the job seriously” and that he “wants full credit for the economy he inherited and no blame for the pandemic he ignored”.

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Obama: I left Trump ‘a pandemic playbook’

Speaking at a rally in North Carolina, the current US leader criticised Mr Obama for his support of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

He said: “It was nobody who campaigned harder for Crooked Hillary than Obama, right?”

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North Carolina is another battleground state that both Mr Trump and Mr Biden are fighting hard to win.

The incumbent argued on Wednesday that Democrats and the media were obsessed with the coronavirus pandemic.

Barack Obama spoke at a drive-in rally for Joe Biden
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Barack Obama was speaking at a drive-in rally for Joe Biden

He said: “All you hear is COVID, COVID.

“That’s all they put on because they want to scare the hell out of everyone.”

Back in Philadelphia, Barack Obama encouraged people to get out and vote.

Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump declared that the United States was "crushing" the coronavirus.
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Mr Obama criticised his successor for much of the rally in Pennsylvania

“I’m asking you to remember what this country can be,” he said. “I’m asking you to believe in Joe’s ability and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of these dark times and help us build it back better.”

He went on: “What we do these next 13 days will matter for decades to come.

“The fact that we don’t get 100% of what we want right away is not a good reason not to vote.”

Speaking to the honking horns of support at the drive-in rally, the former president said: “We’ve got to vote like never before and leave no doubt.”

Watch and follow the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden at 2am Friday morning on the Sky News website, app and on TV.



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Jones set to equal McCaw’s world record


Alun Wyn Jones has been hailed for “a fabulous achievement” after earning another selection for Wales which will see him equal the world Test match appearance record when he captains his country against France in Paris on Saturday.

The 35-year-old second-rower plays his 148th game for both Wales and the British and Irish Lions, matching the mark set by New Zealand’s double World Cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw.

Paying tribute to Jones, head coach Wayne Pivac said: “It is a fabulous achievement. He epitomises what a great rugby player is all about.

“He is a true professional on and off the field, and a gentleman of the game. On the field, he leads by example and you can’t ask more of your captain. We are very privileged here in Wales to have him.”

Wales’ first match for seven months sees a return for centre Jonathan Davies, who has not played Test rugby since suffering a knee injury during the World Cup last year, while Pivac has also named uncapped Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit and Ospreys hooker Sam Parry among the replacements.

Wales play their delayed Guinness Six Nations game against Scotland next week, and Pivac will use the match at Stade de France as full-blown preparation for that encounter.

The side is packed with experience, including a 96th cap for wing George North, while scrum-half Rhys Webb edges out Gareth Davies to make a first Wales start in almost three years, and Dan Biggar wears the number 10 shirt.

In the pack, hooker Ryan Elias takes over from shoulder injury victim Ken Owens, with Cory Hill partnering Jones in the second row and Aaron Wainwright starting at blindside flanker in tandem with back-row colleagues Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Pivac said: “The players are excited. It has been a long time and we can’t wait for Saturday.

“We have six matches this autumn, and the game against France helps us get back into our stride, international rugby-wise.”





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India completes successful test of its own 3rd-gen anti-tank missile, in bid to end reliance on foreign weapons — RT World News


Amid ongoing border tensions with China, India’s defense agency has completed the final test of its third-generation anti-tank missile, which is now set to be deployed by its army.

On Thursday, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announced that the Nag anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), intended for use in the four-kilometer range, has successfully completed its final trial and is now ready for deployment to the frontline.

In response to continuing skirmishes with its neighbors China and Pakistan along the disputed borders, the DRDO has been actively testing domestic missile technologies in an effort to reduce its reliance on foreign defense equipment suppliers.

The third-generation ATGM, equipped with an imaging infrared seeker and integrated with a warhead, has, over several years, completed 10 trial launches, each of them declared successful. The missiles are now slated for production by the state-owned manufacturer Bharat Dynamics and subsequent deployment.

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The test of the Nag missile is the latest in a string of trials performed by the DRDO in the past month. The agency had earlier tested the supersonic surface-to-surface strategic missile Shaurya, as well as the Nirbhay cruise missile.

Before the success of the Nag, India had long lacked credible anti-tank weapons and was forced to purchase them from overseas partners. Last year, when tensions with Pakistan flared up, it made an emergency purchase of around 200 Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel, all of them immediately deployed along the so-called Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir to bolster defense against Pakistan.

India has been facing a two-front threat for decades, amid unresolved issues about disputed borders with neighbors Pakistan and China. In May, conflict flared up again in the Ladakh region, with armed skirmishes alongside the Line of Actual Control, India’s de facto border with China, though the two countries are currently in active talks to de-escalate the tensions.

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Trepidation and optimism in Kerry as Ireland locks down again | World News


Ireland has entered one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, with people banned from socialising and pubs, restaurants and bars closed.

Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced the measures earlier this week and said they would last for six weeks from today.

The measures include:

  • Closure of non-essential shops, pubs, bars and restaurants – but they can offer takeaways
  • Banning of social gatherings indoors and outdoors
  • Restriction of residents to within a 5km radius of their homes
  • Weddings capped to 25 people
  • Schools, childcare facilities and construction sites allowed to remain open

In the final hours before the new rules came into force, Sky News’ Ireland correspondent Stephen Murphy spoke to people about what is in store for the next six weeks.

I had never seen Killarney so empty.

The County Kerry town, one of the jewels in Ireland’s tourism crown, usually has a unique frisson, even in October.

Americans crowd the pavements, piling into the jaunting cars (horse-drawn carriages) for a leisurely tour of the National Park and the lakes, stopping off at the 15th century Ross Castle.

This year, of course, there are no tourists.

With hours to go before the Level 5 lockdown kicked in on Wednesday, the frosty streets were still and quiet.

Outside the International Hotel, under a temporary marquee, 15 locals – the maximum number permitted – were bundled up against the cold, savouring the last few hours of normality.

That’s an extremely relative definition of normality, as they were already barred from dining indoors.

Image:
The International Hotel in Killarney in the final hours of Level 3 restrictions

Siobhan Kelleher took a break from her Peking duck and wine to talk to Sky News.

Although her “heart bleeds” for the hospitality and retail workers who will now be laid off, she feels that the harsh lockdown is for the best.

“Unfortunately it is the right thing to do. We’re going through a crisis, and we have to keep a foot ahead, and do this together, and we’ll get out of it,” she said.

“We’ll just be positive and stay positive, and we’ll get out of it.”

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Mabel Counihan and her husband Dennis were out hunting “a last steak”.

They give up on the International due to the sheer demand for the 15 spots.

Before they left, Mabel told us: “I think the government is doing the right thing, but are they going far enough?

“What happens now is we lockdown for six weeks, we open up everything again, then people go mad, and we’ll have to do the same thing all over again.”

Les Browska, manager of the International Hotel in Killarney
Image:
Les Browska, manager of the International Hotel in Killarney

But how can the government go beyond Level 5, already one of the most severe lockdowns in Europe?

“Don’t get me wrong,” says Mabel, “I’m in business in the town myself, I hate to see anything locked down. But it is the right thing to do. It’s a necessary evil.”

The International Hotel’s duty manager is Les Browska, a gregarious Pole.

When he called last orders shortly after 11pm, there was an ironic cheer from the shivering punters. He seemed genuinely gutted to see his customers off into the chilly evening.

“This is devastating,” he said.

“We are heartbroken that we will not be able to look after our local community and serve our guests.

“Hospitality is all about welcoming the people, what we do is truly genuine, and this is what we’re going to miss the most, what is going to hit us the hardest.”

Hospitality is just one of the sectors that will bear the brunt of the next six weeks.

In Tralee, owner of Ballyseedy Home and Garden Nathan McDonnell shut up shop for the second time this year on Wednesday night.

Nathan McDonnell, owner of Ballyseedy Home and Garden in Killarney
Image:
Nathan McDonnell, owner of Ballyseedy Home and Garden in Tralee

“It’s certainly going to be a huge challenge for us,” he said. “But look, we’re resilient, we’ve been through this before and we’re confident we’ll get through this period.

“Hopefully they [the Irish government] will bring it back to four weeks from six and give us a chance to get the Christmas period and try to get some good trade in again.”

He’s just one of the optimistic Kerry voices we met on our journey through The Kingdom in the dying hours of Level 3.

Now Ireland faces six weeks of Level 5, which the government freely admits will cost €1.5bn (£1.35bn) and 200,000 jobs.

It remains to be seen if that optimism will persist that long, as a cold and dark winter draws in.



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Rays’ bats come alive in Game 2 to even World Series



Oct 21, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

October 22, 2020

(Reuters) – Brandon Lowe homered twice as the Tampa Bay Rays offense came to life to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 and even the World Series at one game apiece on Wednesday in Arlington.

Lowe, the team’s best hitter during the regular season but who has struggled during the postseason, broke out of his slump with a solo shot in the first inning before adding a two-run blast in the fifth to extend the Rays lead to 5-0.

Starting pitcher Blake Snell neutralized the Dodgers lineup, not giving up a hit until Chris Taylor smashed a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth that trimmed the Rays lead to 5-2.

Each team added a run in the sixth and the Dodgers closed the gap to 6-4 on Corey Seager’s home run in the next inning but the Rays bullpen closed out the game to even up the best-of-seven series ahead of Game Three on Friday.

The Dodgers, who won Tuesday’s opener 8-3, struck out 15 times and recorded just five hits against Snell and the Rays relievers.

“I attacked the zone really well, mixed it up, and did a good job keeping them off balance,” said Snell, the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2018.

“They are a very selective team with a few guys who are aggressive, so I had a pretty good game plan for what I needed to do to have success against them.

“Today it went my way but, I’ll see them again and I’ll have to be better.”

The World Series comes at the end of a truncated, 60-game regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is being played entirely at the new $1.1 billion Globe Life Field in Texas with a limited number of fans in attendance.

Dodgers ace Walker Buehler takes the mound against Rays right hander Charlie Morton in Game Three.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)





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Jamal Khashoggi: Journalist’s fiancee sues Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over his killing | World News


The fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi is suing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over his “brutal execution”.

Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish national, filed the lawsuit in Washington DC on Tuesday, accusing the Saudi leader of the “brutal and brazen crime” of killing her fiancée after “weeks of planning”.

Ms Cengiz had been planning to marry Mr Khashoggi when he disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.

She was waiting outside for him, but he never emerged and officials later ruled he died as a result of a “rogue operation”.

Image:
The lawsuit has been brought by Hatice Cengiz, Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee

Last month, five people were sentenced to 20 years in prison over Mr Khashoggi’s death, but they escaped the death penalty and Mr Bin Salman was not implicated in any way.

Three others were sentenced to lesser jail terms. None of the eight convicted have been identified.

Turkish intelligence officials say the operation was too big for the Saudi leader not to have known about it.

More from Jamal Khashoggi

Ms Cengiz said in a statement on Tuesday: “Jamal believed anything was possible in America and I place my trust in the American civil justice system to obtain a measure of justice and accountability.”

The Saudi-born journalist founded a human rights organisation called Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) soon before he died.

He was living in exile in the US and had written articles for the Washington Post criticising the Saudi government.

The lawsuit claims that those responsible for Mr Khashoggi’s death “saw his actions in the United States as an existential threat”.

“Defendants resolved to put an end to Mr Khashoggi’s efforts by any means necessary,” it adds.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pictured while meeting with the Tunisian President during his arrival at the presidential palace in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on November 27, 2018. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Image:
A trial last month saw five people jailed over Mr Khashoggi’s death, but no reference to Mohammed Bin Salman was made

Turkish officials claim that 15 Saudis were waiting inside the consulate in Turkey, where Mr Khashoggi had travelled to pick up documents for his upcoming wedding.

Saudi Arabia deny he was murdered, but his body is believed to have been dismembered and removed from the building.

Intelligence officials had the consulate bugged and recordings appeared to capture Mr Khashoggi’s last words, which were: “Don’t cover my mouth. I have asthma, don’t do it.”



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Boy, 14, who stands at 7ft tall set to be named officially as tallest child in the world – World News


A Chinese boy who measures well over 7 feet tall is set to officially become the tallest male teenager in the world.

14-year-old Xiaoyu, from Leshan City in the southwestern province of Sichuan, measured 221cm (7.25 feet) on his birthday on October 18, according to national newspaper New.

A Red Star News journalist, who was asked to be one of the officials who confirmed the boy’s height, reported that the teen was so large that he even needed to have special furniture made.

This includes a desk and chair that he can fit in so he can study.

Xiaoyu’s grandmother Wu Mei told the newspaper: “He has grown a lot taller in the past two years.”



The schoolboy is waiting to be officially crowned as the tallest in the world

In June 2018, when the RSN reporter first came to meet the boy, he was still in the sixth grade of elementary school, measuring 206 cm (6.59 feet) tall.

At the time, the youth expressed his wish to challenge the Guinness World Record and become the world’s tallest teen.

In August this year, Xiaoyu and his family submitted the application for the challenge ‘Tallest Youth (Male)’ on the official Guinness website.



His world record application saw him measured multiple times



He has special furniture, including a desk and chair

He said: “Since I have entered school, I have noticed that I am taller than the other kids at my age.

“Many students were mistaking me as a fellow from the senior generation.

“That did disturb me but I decided to make it something positive by applying to Guinness to see if I could get the world record.”



Multiple witnesses also had to be present for his measuring

Lu Lei, a World Records certification officer, later came to Leshan to certify Xiaoyu’s challenge to the title.

In addition to the officer, Leshan People’s Hospital doctor Li Song and the Red Star journalist participated in the measurement and acted as witnesses for the record application.

Mr Lei said: “The challenger must be male and aged between 13-18.



The results are being processed at Guinness HQ in London

“At the moment the former holder of the Guinness World Record is over 18 years old.”

But, he added that the comparison was not relevant as the new challenger is much younger.

In order to make sure they had the measurement exactly correct, the officials measured him three times in the morning, at midday and in the evening.

After the measurement certification was completed it was sent to London to be audited at the Guinness headquarters, and once confirmed, Xiaoyu is expecting to become the new world record holder.





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