Global

Spain launching vaccination certificate; Iceland sequences all its COVID cases; 10 positive at Australian Open

A look at how COVID-19 is impacting life around the world.

by Stranger’s Guide

Spain

Spain is planning to launch a vaccination certificate in order to bolster its beleaguered tourism industry. Reyes Maroto, the country’s tourism minister, said the government’s responsibility was not just “resistance” to the virus but also the country’s recovery and maintaining its competitiveness in the tourism sector. Maroto said he hopes to accelerate Spain’s vaccination program as a starting point for tourism to commence in the country by the summer, and plans to work with the European Commission on a common vaccination certificate to ensure safe travel among member countries. Back in October we reported that Spain had become the first country in Europe with one million confirmed coronavirus infections. (Majorca Daily Bulletin)

Iceland

Iceland has genetically sequenced all of its cases of COVID-19 cases since the coronavirus pandemic began, making it the leading country in the world in COVID-19 sequencing. Sequencing the disease’s genome is vital, and The World Health Organization has urged all countries to ramp up sequencing to help combat new strains of the virus. In Iceland, the process takes place at deCODE Genetics’ laboratory in Reykjavik where scientists have worked for 10 months analyzing each positive test result. Last week we reported that the country had raised the number of people allowed to gather together, and reopened gyms and ski resorts after showing the lowest incidence rate of coronavirus infections among all countries reported on by the European Centre for Disease Control. (Science Alert)

Mexico

Fewer than half of COVID-19 vaccines promised to Baja, California, will be delivered by Mexico’s government, not even enough to ensure all the state’s health workers are vaccinated. Only 39 percent of the COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered. Health Secretary Alonso Pérez Rico blamed Pfizer for not being able to fulfill its promised allotment after the World Health Organization prioritized other countries. (Border Report)

Australia

Ten people linked to the Australian Open tennis tournament have now tested positive for the coronavirus, with health authorities there saying they are confident that among the cases is a tennis player who is shedding the virus but asymptomatic. Seventy-two players are in lockdown as they are deemed close contacts of those who tested positive traveling to the competition on three flights into Melbourne from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Los Angeles. Victoria state, the capital of which is Melbourne, accounted for 810 of Australia’s 909 deaths from COVID-19. (ABC)

India

Describing India as “the pharmacy of the world,” the country’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said it has begun exporting COVID-19 vaccine to neighboring countries. Many low and middle-income countries are relying on India, which as we reported earlier this month is the world’s biggest vaccine maker for supplies to start their immunization programs. The first consignment is headed for the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, after which they’ll be sent to Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles. (Al Jazeera)

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South America

Religious Violence in Brazil

The vilification of indigenous African traditions has been going on since at least the beginning of the slave trade. These earth-based traditions were portrayed as evil and “primitive,” a belief based on ignorance that holds sway in many places across the world even today. In Brazil, as in other places around the world, practitioners of Umbanda and Candomblé continue to face intolerance and even violence for their beliefs. The last ten to fifteen years has seen a sharp increase in the amount of violent crimes directed at practitioners of African religions in Rio de Janeiro, with gangs particularly targeting practitioners and houses of worship.