UAE to suspend schools for four weeks starting March 8
Marje Pelayo • March 4, 2020 • 706
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The Ministry of Education (MOE) will suspend all classes starting March 8, 2020 in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a series of posts on Twitter, the MOE advised students to expect the suspension to last for four weeks.
During the suspension period, the MOE intends to disinfect all facilities.
“The decision was made in best interests of the health and safety of students and the wider education community at schools and universities,” the MOE tweeted.
Meanwhile, distance learning initiatives in the last two weeks of the spring holidays will be implemented which is also encouraged for private schools.
“Public MoE schools will start distance learning initiatives in the last two weeks of the holidays. Private schools are encouraged to share their distance learning plans with parents & students,” the MOE concluded.
North Korea’s state-run television on Tuesday (July 28) released a video of Pyongyang workers disinfecting the city as the state introduced tougher curbs against the coronavirus, after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection.
Strict quarantine measures and the screening of districts were in progress and test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, the North’s KCNA state news agency said.
The measures come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency on Sunday (July 26) after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of COVID-19, KCNA reported.
Reclusive North Korea had reported testing 1,211 people for the virus as of July 16 with all returning negative results, the World Health Organisation said in a statement sent to Reuters. The report said 696 nationals were under quarantine. (Reuters)
President Donald Trump warned Americans on Tuesday (July 21) that the toll from the novel coronavirus would get worse before it got better, and encouraged Americans to wear a mask if they cannot maintain social distance from people around them.
In his first briefing in months focused on the pandemic, Trump told reporters at the White House that the virus would probably get worse before it gets better, in one of his first recent acknowledgments of how bad the problem has become.
“Some areas of our country are doing very well. Others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better – something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is,” he said.
In a shift in rhetoric, Trump encouraged Americans to wear masks, and pulled a mask out of his pocket, saying he carries it around.
“I mean I carry the mask,” he said, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a blue face mask. “And I will use it gladly, no problem with it, and I’ve said that. And I say, if you can, use the mask. When you can, use the mask. If you’re close to each other, if you’re in a group, I would put it on when I’m in a group.”
Trump, who downplayed the virus in its early stages and has been focused on reopening the economy in recent months despite an increase in cases, has been reluctant to wear a mask himself in public. He wore one for the first time in public during a recent visit to a military hospital but has otherwise eschewed putting one on in front of the press.
Mask-wearing has become a partisan issue, with some Trump supporters saying being required to do infringes on their liberties.
As coronavirus cases skyrocket across the country, including in politically important states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, the president is shifting his tone to try to get the number of cases under control as he fights for re-election against Democrat Joe Biden, who leads in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
He urged young Americans to avoid crowded bars where the virus could spread.
“We are imploring young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings. Be safe and be smart,” he said.
Trump again argued that the virus would disappear at some point, but most of his comments on Tuesday were largely a sober recognition of how bad the problem has become.
Trump sought to leave some optimism about scientific developments in vaccines and treatments even as he acknowledged the grim statistics at present.
When asked if the U.S. would cooperate with China on a vaccine, Trump, who several times called the virus “the China virus” during the news conference, said Washington would.
“Yeah, we’re willing to work with anybody that’s going to get us a good result. We’re very close to the vaccine. I think we’re going to have some very good results,” he said.
Nearly 142,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. (Reuters)
The United Arab Emirates launched its first mission to Mars on Monday (July 20) as it strives to develop its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil.
The Hope Probe blasted off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 1:58 a.m. UAE time/6:58 a.m. Japanese time Monday (2158 GMT Sunday) for a seven-month journey to the red planet, where it will orbit and send back data about the atmosphere.
The first Arab mission to Mars was initially due to launch on July 14, but has been delayed twice due to bad weather.
Just over an hour after launch, the probe deployed solar panels to power its systems and established radio communication with the mission on earth.
There are currently eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet and some have landed on its surface. China and the United States each plan to send another this year.
The Emirates Mars Mission has cost $200 million, according to Minister for Advanced Sciences Sarah Amiri. It aims to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere for the first time, studying daily and seasonal changes.
The UAE first announced plans for the mission in 2014 and launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop local expertise. Its population of 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big spacefaring nations.
It has an ambitious plan for a Mars settlement by 2117. Hazza al-Mansouri became the first Emirati in space last September when he flew to the International Space Station.
To develop and build the Hope Probe, Emiratis and Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) worked with U.S. educational institutions.
The MBRSC space centre in Dubai will oversee the spacecraft during its 494 million km (307 million mile) journey at an average speed of 121,000 km per hour. (Reuters)
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