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Prince William, Kate Middleton to visit Pak in Oct

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Islamabad, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate Middleton will pay an official visit to Pakistan from October 14-18, the Kensington Palace has announced.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend a special event at the Aga Khan Centre on 2nd October, hosted by His Highness The Aga Khan. The event falls ahead of TRH’s official visit to Pakistan, which will take place between 14th – 18th October” Dawn news quoted the Palace as saying on Twitter on Friday.

Earlier in June, an official statement from the royal family had announced that the couple were to visit Pakistan later this year upon the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Prince William and Kate’s trip would have been the first official visit by a member of the British royal family to Pakistan since 2006 when Prince Charles and Camilla had travelled to the South Asian country.

Previously, Queen Elizabeth II had visited in 1961 and 1997, and the late Princess Diana in 1991.

Britain is home to more than a million people of Pakistani origin, making it the largest Pakistani diaspora in Europe, Dawn news reported.

Bilateral trade was worth almost $4 billion in 2017, with the UK currently Pakistan’s third-largest source of foreign investment after China and the Netherlands, according to Britain’s Department of International Trade.

British Airways also resumed flights to Pakistan earlier this year after suspending operations due to security fears over a decade ago.

Disaster

US sets record with 225,201 single-day Covid-19 cases

The country on Wednesday had set a world record of single-day case count, as 196,227 new cases were reported and hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

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RUSSIA CORONAVIRUS

Washington, Dec 5 : Setting a new grim record, the US reported 225,201 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day spike since the onset of the pandemic in the country, currently the worst-hit in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The new figure on Friday increased the overall caseload to 14,343,430, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update on Saturday.

In the same period, the country also reported 2,506 new fatalities, which increased the total coronavirus death toll to 278,605, according to the CSSE.

The two tallies are the highest in the world.

The country on Wednesday had set a world record of single-day case count, as 196,227 new cases were reported and hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

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36 cross-party UK MPs support Indian farmers’ agitation

The government has maintained that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.

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Dominic Raab Labour Party

A faction of 36 cross-party UK MPs, led by the Labour Party’s Tanmanjit Singh Dhesi, have come out in support of the ongoing farmers’ agitation in India, asking British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to raise the matter with New Delhi.

The MPs, in a missive to Raab, asked to pressurise India against the recently enacted agriculture laws which “exploit” the farmers and those who depend on farming.

They further urged the Foreign Secretary to hold talks with the Indian government through the support of Sikh farmers in Punjab and abroad.

In his letter, Dhesi, the Labour MP for Slough, said that last month several MPs wrote to the Indian High Commission in London about the impacts of the three new farm laws.

“This is an issue of particular concern to Sikhs in the UK and those linked to Punjab, although it also heavily impacts on other Indian states.

“The Punjabi community is widely recognized as the backbone of the state’s economic structure and the farmers’ concerns are a powerful faction in national and state politics,” the letter said.

It called for an urgent with Raab to discuss the “deteriorating” situation in Punjab and its relationship with the Union government.

Also, representations to be made to India about the impact on British Sikhs and Punjabis, with longstanding links to land and farming in India.

In a tweet, Dhesi said: “Many constituents, especially those emanating from the Punjab, have contacted MPs to express solidarity with the farmers opposing farmers Bill 2020 in India.

“Dozens of MPs duly deliberated and signed a cross-party letter, seeking justice for the peacefully protesting farmers.” The development comes as farmers have continued their protests at the Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders.

The agitated farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by Parliament earlier this year and have expressed apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate houses.

The government has maintained that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.

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Adar Poonawalla, CEO Serum Institute among 6 named ‘Asians of the Year’ by Singapore daily

The Serum Institute was founded by Poonawalla’s father Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966.

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Adar Poonawalla

Singapore, December 5 : Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India, is among six people named ‘Asians of the Year’ by Singapore’s leading daily, The Straits Times, for their work in fighting the Covid pandemic.

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has collaborated with the University of Oxford and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for making the Covid vaccine, ‘Covidshield’, and is conducting trials in India.

The other five named in the list are Chinese researcher Zhang Yongzhen, who led the team that mapped and published online the first complete genome of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that sparked the pandemic, China’s Major-General Chen Wei, Japan’s Dr Ryuichi Morishita and Singapore’s Professor Ooi Eng Eong, who are among those at the forefront of developing vaccines against the virus, and South Korean businessman Seo Jung-jin whose company will enable the making and dispensing of the vaccines and other Covid-19 treatments to the world.

Collectively referred to as “the virus busters”, they are heroes of a kind, having devoted themselves to the pressing cause of resolving the coronavirus pandemic, each in their own capacity, the daily said.

“Sars-CoV-2, the virus that has brought death and hardship to the world’s largest and most populous continent, is meeting its tamer in The Virus Busters,” the award citation said.

“We salute your courage, care, commitment and creativity. In this peril-filled hour, you are a symbol of hope for Asia, indeed the world.”

The Serum Institute was founded by Poonawalla’s father Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966.

Poonawalla joined the Serum Institute of India in 2001 and became the CEO of Serum Institute with complete control of the day-to-day operations of the company in 2011.

Poonawalla said that he had put USD 250 million of his family fortune into ramping up his institute’s manufacturing capacity.

“I decided to go all out,” said Poonawalla, 39, who has pledged that his firm’s COVID-19 vaccines will help supply lower- and middle-income countries that face significant disadvantages in the quest to obtain them.

Poonawalla said his institute is helping poorer countries level up in access to vaccines.

In the big picture of ending the pandemic, commonality of purpose is key, said The Straits Times, Singapore’s mainstream daily.

The Straits Times Asians of the Year have led the way, as have scores of other individuals in their own fields. When an end comes into sight, it will be due in no small part to these people who – undaunted by the tumult – have committed themselves to the sobering, much-needed work to put together an exit plan from the crisis, for humanity.

“There has not been a day this year when the pandemic has not been in the news. Straits Times’ editors felt there could be no more deserving recipients this year than the people squaring up to Asia’s biggest-ever health challenge, engaged in pioneering and courageous efforts to prevent the highly contagious virus from wreaking more damage,” Bhagyashree Garekar, Straits Times’ foreign editor, said on Saturday.

“In a year that is ending with a wish for great resets… Asia’s virus busters are the face of hope on the horizon,” said Garekar.

Between them, the recipients of the 2020 award capture the entire trajectory of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In deciding to honour The Virus Busters, Straits Times editors had in mind those who have, in one way or another, enabled the complex, multi-stage process of preventing as many people around the world from getting the deadly disease in as little time as possible.

“Each year, ST editors seek out a person, team or organisation that has not only made or shaped the news, but also helped contribute positively to Asia in the process,” said Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English/Malay/Tamil Media Group and editor of Straits Times.

“This year, we naturally looked to those involved in the fight against Covid-19, which has dominated the headlines. We debated long and hard, but finally agreed on a group of people who have done the most to help find an answer to the crisis brought on by the virus.

“They are a disparate group whose collective efforts have pushed forward the search for vaccines, allowing these to be discovered and delivered with an urgency never attempted or seen before. Their commitment and actions have helped save lives and give hope to people all around Asia, and the world,” Fernandez said. PTI

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