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South Korea sets ’emergency’ measures as coronavirus outbreak swells

Schools were shuttered, churches told worshipers to stay away and some mass gatherings were banned as cases of a new virus swelled Friday in South Korea, the newest front in a widening global outbreak.

The country said a total of 204 people were infected with the virus, quadruple the number it had two days earlier, as a crisis centered in China has begun strongly reverberating elsewhere.

The multiplying caseload in South Korea showed the ease with which the illness can spread. Though initial infections were linked to China, new ones have not involved international travel.

“We have entered an emergency phase,” Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said in televised comments at the start of a government meeting on the health emergency. “Our efforts until now had been focused on blocking the illness from entering the country. But we will now shift the focus on preventing the illness from spreading further in local communities.”

Daegu, a southeastern city of 2.5 million that is the country’s fourth largest, emerged as the focus of government efforts to contain the disease known as COVID-19, and Chung promised support to ease a shortage in hospital beds, medical personnel and equipment. Mayor Kwon Young-jin of Daegu has urged residents to stay inside, even wearing masks at home, to stem further infection.

The first case in Daegu was reported on Tuesday. By Friday, the area had 153.

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PETA says the word ‘pet’ should not be used for National Love Your Pet Day

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has said the word "pet" should be replaced in National Love Your Pet Day with "one that more clearly defines the bond" humans have with animals.

The organisation has already grabbed headlines with its claims that we should call animals 'companions' and people with pets to be called “human carers” or “guardians” rather than “owners”, so that they are seen as equals.

On its website, PETA says : "Referring to and thinking of animals not as sentient beings who have families, personalities, and emotions but rather as owned objects allows humans to justify using them in any way they see fit."

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On Thursday, social media was abuzz with people celebrating National Love Your Pet Day by sharing photos of themselves with their companions with the hashtag #LoveYourPetDay.

But PETA wants the event, held annually on February 20, to be renamed.

In a tweet, the organisation said: "We completely agree with the sentiment of #LoveYourPetDay BUT think #LoveYourCompanionDay would make for a much more respectful, kind and compassionate hashtag."

Speaking to Daily Star, Mimi Bekhechi, director of International Programmes for PETA, said: "Every day should be "Love Your Pet" Day if you're lucky enough to share your life with a dog, a cat, a rabbit, or another animal, but the word "pet" should be replaced with one that more clearly defines the bond.

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""Pet" can be used with love, but like the equivalent Spanish term, 'mascota', it emphasises a master-pet relationship, reducing animals with personalities and emotions to owned possessions instead of members of the family.

"Social movements have always had to appeal to people to stop using terms that are sexist or racist or that otherwise imply the subject is an accessory to the speaker rather than a whole, thinking, feeling individual like themselves.

"So yes, let's love the animals in our homes today – and every day – but let's give them the respect they deserve by calling ourselves what we should be, their "guardians", and them our "animal companions."

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Myanmar to court-martial more troops over Rohingya crackdown, army says

YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s army said in a statement on Friday it would hold more court-martials over alleged abuses against Rohingya Muslims, after a government-appointed commission said soldiers committed war crimes against the minority.

The panel concluded, in a report published in January, that members of the security forces, among “multiple actors”, were responsible for war crimes and serious human rights violations during a military-led crackdown against the group in 2017.

The army said in a post on its website on Friday it had studied the panel’s report in great detail and was reviewing allegations.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape an army offensive launched in August 2017 that U.N investigators described as having been executed with genocidal intent.

The country is facing genocide charges at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, after Gambia, a mainly Muslim West African state, lodged a lawsuit last year.

Myanmar says the army was fighting a legitimate counter-insurgency campaign against militants who attacked security posts.

The government-appointed panel blamed Rohingya militants for attacking 30 police posts and “provoking” the crackdown, which it said did not amount to genocide.

The army said it was investigating alleged abuses in two villages: Maung Nu, where residents told the panel as many as 200 Muslims were killed after taking shelter in a single house, and Chut Pyin, where dozens more are alleged to have died.

“The Court of Inquiry will investigate such incidents and the trial of Court-Martial will be followed in accordance with the law and in line with the processes of Military Justice,” the army statement said.

Two military spokesmen rejected several phone calls from Reuters on Friday seeking further comment.

‘BODIES PULLED APART’

Residents of Maung Nu told government-appointed investigators that soldiers besieged the village after militants attacked a nearby security post and stormed a house where many villagers were sheltering, killing as many as 200.

In Chut Pyin, residents said soldiers surrounded the village, used rocket launchers to set fire to houses and shot indiscriminately, killing scores, according to the January report.

Troops told locals, who allegedly participated in the destruction, to “systematically destroy the bodies” afterwards, one Buddhist resident told the government-backed panel.

“There were so many corpses in Chut Pyin village that when they were burnt, not all could be burnt down to ashes; some were buried, and some dead bodies were pulled apart by wild animals,” the resident was quoted as saying.

The army said in its statement it was still reviewing other incidents mentioned in the report by the government-appointed panel, which include an alleged massacre of Hindus by Rohingya militants calling themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which the group denies.

Myanmar has vowed to carry out its own investigations, saying international justice mechanisms violate its sovereignty.

The army began a trial in November of soldiers and officers from a regiment deployed to Gu Dar Pyin village, the site of another alleged massacre.

A statement on that trial will be released “in the near future”, the military said on Friday.

Seven soldiers jailed for 10 years for killing 10 Rohingya men and boys in the village of Inn Din were granted early release last November, after serving less than a year in prison.

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Dozens of Rohingya face charges for illegal travel in Myanmar after fleeing Rakhine state

YANGON (Reuters) – Dozens of Rohingya Muslims, including two children, appeared in court in Myanmar on Friday, the latest group to face charges after attempting to flee conflict-torn Rakhine state.

The group of about 20 were among 54 people from the Rohingya minority arrested on Wednesday on the outskirts of the commercial capital Yangon while trying to leave for Malaysia, according to judge Thida Aye.

“The immigration officer submitted the case because they found no identification cards from these people,” she told Reuters.

Some were barefoot, others clothed in colorful head-scarfs, as they were ushered into the small courtroom in Yangon. A small boy was naked from the waist down.

Defense lawyer Nay Myo Zar said they had fled Rakhine state, the western region where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya live in apartheid-like conditions and have come under increasing pressure as government troops battle ethnic rebels.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to Bangladesh in 2017 to escape a military-led crackdown that U.N investigators have said was carried out with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings and rapes.

Myanmar says the army was fighting a legitimate counter-insurgency campaign against militants who attacked security posts.

Some 600,000 Rohingya remain in the country, confined to camps and villages where they are unable to travel freely or access healthcare and education. The vast majority lack citizenship.

The government says it is working on a national strategy to close camps and that Rohingya would not face movement restrictions if they accepted a so-called national verification card, which many reject, saying it labels them foreigners.

Rakhine state has for the past year been rocked by increasingly intense clashes between government troops and fighters from the Arakan Army, an insurgent group comprised of ethnic Rakhine, another mostly Buddhist minority.

Myanmar’s army said in a statement on Friday it would hold more court-martials over alleged abuses against Rohingya Muslims, after a government-appointed commission concluded soldiers committed war crimes.

For years, Rohingya on both sides of the border have attempted to flee for Thailand and Malaysia, some boarding boats organized by smugglers, a dangerous journey that has cost many lives.

On Thursday, 93 Rohingya arrested in November after they were found on a beach in the Irrawaddy delta region appeared in a separate court to face charges of traveling illegally, Radio Free Asia reported.

Hundreds more have been imprisoned in jails and youth detention centers across the country.

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Takeaways causing thousands of norovirus cases with food poisoning on the rise

Takeaways and restaurant meals are causing hundreds of thousands of norovirus cases, as food poisoning cases skyrocket.

380,000 cases of foodborne illness a year are caused by norovirus – with almost two thirds linked to restaurant or takeaway meals, according to new research.

The infectious intestinal disease (IID) is commonly known as the winter vomiting bug.

Of that figure, food eaten in restaurants, cafes and fast food joints made up 37% of cases.

Takeaways and home deliveries made up a further 26%.

The Food Standards Agency says the total number of intestinal illnesses linked to any type of food contamination is more than double the previous estimates.

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This tallies up to 2.4 million cases a year, with 220,000 resulting in a visit to the GP.

Researchers found meals requiring human contact, such as a sandwich or kebab, were more likely to pass on the norovirus.

Guy Poppy, chief scientific adviser to the FSA, said: “This work gives us a much better idea of the role of food in the spread of all infectious intestinal disease in the UK.

“This does not mean more people are getting unwell, only that we estimate food is responsible for more existing cases than previously thought.

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Most of this increase is due to innovative research into food-borne norovirus.

“As part of this, sampling surveys focused on the five most common food-related transmission routes.

“Although the percentages may appear striking, the risk to consumers remains low.

“We are not changing our advice to consumers and businesses. Instead this research reinforces the need for the highest standards of good personal and food hygiene practices in catering establishments and at home.”

Over the past decade the UK's takeaway scene has boomed, with the launch of intermediary delivery companies such as Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

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Most operate via an app, with the British online food delivery industry worth £4.2bn as of this year, with 22.5m users.

The product causing the most problems was lettuce, which resulted in 19.5% of norovirus infections from food, the researchers reported.

Raspberries bought from shops are blamed for 4% of cases, while oysters, commonly blamed for food poisoning, only account for 3%.

Despite the rise in numbers, the FSA said there is no new risk to public health.

  • Norovirus

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Iran confirms 13 more coronavirus cases, two new deaths, mostly in Qom holy city

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran confirmed 13 new coronavirus cases on Friday, two of whom have died, with the outbreak there coming just as the country votes in a parliamentary election.

The majority of coronavirus cases in Iran have been in Qom, a Shi’ite Muslim holy city 120 km (75 miles) south of the capital Tehran.

The new cases comprised seven people diagnosed in Qom, four in Tehran and two in Gilan, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a tweet.

“Most of the cases were residents of Qom or had a history of returning from Qom in recent days and weeks,” Jahanpur said in the tweet, referring to the new cases.

The total number of cases in Iran now stands at 18, with four of those people having died.

Health officials had called on Thursday for the suspension of all religious gatherings in Qom.

Iranians were voting in a parliamentary election on Friday which is widely seen as a referendum on authorities after a series of crises, including a near full-blown conflict with the United States last month.

State TV showed voters at polling centres in Qom wearing surgical masks on Friday.

Iraqi Airways has suspended flight service to neighbouring Iran as a protective measure against the coronavirus outbreak, the Iraqi state news agency said on Thursday.

The epidemic originated in China and has killed more than 2,100 people there. New research suggesting the virus is more contagious than previously thought has added to the international alarm over the outbreak.

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Huge endangered shark dies after accidentally being caught by fishermen

An endangered 22ft long basking shark has died after accidentally being caught by fishermen.

According to local media, the Spanish trawler master Jordi Albiol captured the Basking shark in its trawling net when he was fishing 15 miles off the coast of Cap Salou in the autonomous community of Catalonia in north-eastern Spain.

Reports said that Albiol took the animal still alive to the port of the city of Tarragona also in Catalonia but it tragically died after the boat docked in the port, but before it could be freed from their nets.

Biologists from the centre of sea animals recovery (CRAM) at the Sea Science Institute have taken samples from the shark’s dead body.

Reports claim that the institution intends to take the shark back into the open sea to benefit the ocean ecosystem.

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Albiol reportedly told local radio ‘Catalunya Radio’ that he was very sorry for capturing the creature.

According to the Ocena organisation, the basking shark is the second-largest fish in the world and like the largest fish (the whale shark) is a filter feeder that spends most of its time filtering out tiny planktonic prey and small fish.

They can reach lengths of up to 12 metres (40ft) and they are listed as an endangered species on the IUCN's Red List after centuries of fishing.

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Saudi Arabia intercepts missiles fired from Yemen as G20 ministers gather

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia said it had intercepted several ballistic missiles fired from Yemen towards Saudi cities on Friday as finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 major economies gathered for a meeting in Riyadh.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement launched the missiles from the Yemeni capital Sanaa at 3am, Saudi news agency SPA quoted the spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen as saying. It gave no further details.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Houthi movement. The G20 meeting, at which finance officials are due to discuss the global economy, was continuing as scheduled.

An escalation of violence since the start of the year has shattered more than three months of unprecedented calm in the five-year-old conflict in Yemen, widely seen as proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its regional foe, Shi’ite Muslim Iran.

Saudi Arabia has been holding informal talks with the Houthis since late September about de-escalation. Riyadh had significantly reduced its air strikes on Yemen and the Houthis had halted missile and drone attacks on the kingdom.

But violence resumed on northern frontlines in January and led to renewed Houthi missile strikes, the first since attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September knocked out more than half of the kingdom’s crude output. The Saudi-led coalition resumed retaliatory bombings.

Three sources close to the discussions between Riyadh and the Houthis said factions in Yemen’s Saudi-backed government had provoked the unrest to try to undermine the talks, fearful that a deal may weaken their own position in any wider negotiations.

A spokesman for the government denied its forces provoked the Houthis and told Reuters that they were responding to advances by the group. A Houthi official accused the government of trying to make territorial gains during the lull in violence.

The escalation endangers months of peace efforts by Saudi Arabia and the United Nations, and highlights the challenge Riyadh faces in trying to exit a costly and unpopular war.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to try to restore the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, ousted by the Houthis in Sanaa in 2014.

The war, a military stalemate, has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and left millions of Yemenis facing starvation.

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Re-arrested Turkish businessman accuses Erdogan of intervening in case

ANKARA (Reuters) – Prominent Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, re-arrested this week hours after being acquitted over his role in nationwide 2013 protests, said on Friday President Tayyip Erdogan had intervened to prevent his release from prison.

Businessman Kavala was among nine people acquitted on Tuesday of charges related to the Gezi Park unrest seven years ago. He was then re-arrested and sent back to jail over charges related to a failed 2016 military coup.

Erdogan has repeatedly denied intervening in judicial decisions and insists the Turkish judiciary is independent.

In a statement Kavala said the Gezi acquittals had been a positive step which he had hoped would help society understand the problems of the judiciary and have a healing effect.

“However, unfortunately, the president’s intervention prevented this opportunity, and I was arrested again with an allegation much more irrational and lawless than the first time,” Kavala said.

“The allegation that I planned the coup attempt is much more irrational than the charge that I organized Gezi protests and shows a profound ulterior motive,” he added.

A senior Turkish official, who asked not to be named, denied any interference in judicial decisions.

“The courts are pursuing their own process. After all, it was the same Turkish judiciary who made the acquittal ruling too. The process regarding Kavala is a judiciary process,” the official said.

In the latest investigation, Kavala is accused of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order in the failed putsch of July 15, 2016, which Ankara says was perpetrated by followers of U.S.-based religious scholar Fethullah Gulen.

The 2013 Gezi Park unrest was one of the most serious challenges faced by Erdogan since his AK Party came to power in 2002. Erdogan on Wednesday described the protests as one of a series of attacks that he said culminated in the coup bid.

Erdogan has described Kavala as the local collaborator of a foreign conspiracy led by billionaire George Soros to divide Turkey by backing the Gezi protests, repeating the allegation on Wednesday, hours after Kavala was re-arrested.

Kavala is involved in publishing but his activities in the last two decades have been focused on a charitable foundation fostering cultural development and cooperation. Before that, he had businesses in telecommunication and energy.

In a ruling in December, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said evidence was insufficient to justify the accusation that Kavala had been involved in the abortive coup.

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Easy ingredient swaps to create ‘healthy’ comfort foods

Making drastic changes to your diet in an effort to be healthier often isn’t sustainable, according to wellness experts. 

But by swapping out a few ingredients in your favourite comfort foods, you can create healthy options you’ll be able to stick with over time, said Abbey Sharp, a Toronto-based dietitian.

“People think they need to make these extreme changes with their diet … but these small little changes have the biggest impact because they’re actually sustainable,” she told hosts on Global News’ The Morning Show.

“We want to feel satisfied, and not feel that we’re feeling denied,” she said. 

Swap #1: Ranch dip hack

One easy swap is subbing full-fat sour cream with skyr yogurt a dairy product from Iceland that is lower in fat and contains more protein and has a thick consistency, explained Sharp.

“It’s really rich and high in protein … and it’s got no added sugar, preservatives, thickeners or artificial ingredients of any kind,” she said. 

Adding skyr into your dip instead of using sour cream will cut about six grams of fat from the recipe, and add three grams of protein, she said. 

Swap #2: Plant-based sloppy joes

Using plant-based meat alternatives instead of ground beef in recipes like sloppy joes is a simple way to immediately make the meal better for you, said Sharp.

Vegetarian meat-alternatives in a sloppy joe recipe will save you about four grams of saturated fat, and add three grams of fibre — which you won’t get out of ground beef, said Sharp.

How to make small changes in your diet

Subbing certain ingredients with healthier alternatives allows you to continue to eat the foods you love without giving them up, explained dietitian Sarah Remmer in a previous Global News report. 

“Make one or two changes to your daily routine and see how that goes,” said Remmer. “Give up things that you won’t miss. Feeling deprived will only mean that you’ll end up eating more of it later.”

For more healthy comfort food recipes, watch Abbey Sharp in the video above.

— With files from Leslie Young


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