Connect with us


Chinese Government Halts Visas For Japan, South Korea In COVID-19 Fight




BEIJING, China – Tuesday, Chinese embassies stopped giving out new visas to South Koreans and Japanese, ostensibly as a way to get back at those countries for putting restrictions on COVID-19 testing for Chinese travelers.

The Tokyo and Seoul embassies made short announcements on the Internet about the bans.

According to the Seoul notification, which was put on the embassy’s WeChat social media account, the ban would remain in effect until South Korea lifted its “discriminatory entrance restrictions” against China. The notification included information on tourist, business, and other visas.

Last week, China’s Foreign Ministry warned against actions against countries that announced increased virus testing requirements for Chinese passengers. At least ten countries in Europe, North America, and Asia have done this recently. Officials in China are worried about the lack of information they have about viruses that spread quickly.


Unclear Why Certain Countries Singled Out

It wasn’t clear why South Korea and Japan were singled out, or if the restrictions would apply to other countries that required Chinese travelers to get tested for viruses.

The Chinese embassy in Tokyo stated that visa issuance had been halted. The statements appeared to apply only to new applicants without mentioning existing visa holders.

In a statement, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said that “our government’s move to increase anti-virus measures on travelers arriving from China is based on scientific and factual data.” “We have talked with the Chinese side in advance and transparently supplied information to the world community.”

It would be “regrettable,” according to a Japanese Foreign Ministry official if limitations were implemented.

Withholding visas from South Korean or Japanese entrepreneurs might stall a hoped-for resurgence of economic activity and potential new investment in the aftermath of China’s surprise easing of anti-virus regulations last month.

Could Effect Chinese and Foreign Business

Business groups have previously warned that global businesses were diverting investment plans away from China because the epidemic regulations made it difficult for international executives to visit. Over the last three years, a few international auto and other executives have visited China, but many companies have depended on Chinese staff or management already in the country to oversee their operations.

According to the owner of a South Korean restaurant in Beijing, the statement pushed friends to cancel their plans to visit China. He talked on the condition of anonymity because he was concerned about the impact on his firm. He also stated that he is ready to renew his Chinese work visa and is unsure if this would be affected.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang “raised worry” about South Korea’s measures to his counterpart, Foreign Minister Park Jin, in a phone call on Monday before the visa ban was announced. “I hope the South Korean side would maintain an objective and scientific attitude,” Qin stated.

China did what it did because it wanted its people to be treated the same as people from other countries. A dozen countries have followed the United States in requiring either a negative test before leaving China, a viral test upon arrival at the airport or both.

“Unfortunately, a handful of countries have insisted on pursuing discriminatory entry restriction measures targeting China, notwithstanding science and facts and domestic reality,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Tuesday. “China strongly rejected this and responded in kind.”

When asked if new visas for South Koreans and Japanese had been banned, he only said that he had “made it very plain.”


Chinese Officials Accused by WHO

China has been accused by the World Health Organization and numerous nations of suppressing data on its outbreak. On Tuesday, a WHO official said that the Chinese outbreak doesn’t pose an immediate threat to Europe, but that more information is needed.

According to China’s ambassador to Australia, the response of those countries to China’s COVID-19 outbreak was neither proportionate nor productive.

Xiao Qian told reporters in Canberra that China’s focus moved from avoiding infections to preventing serious cases late last year. Countries, he said, should apply a science-based approach.

“If they’re aimed against China, entry restrictions are pointless,” the ambassador told reporters.

South Korea’s once-cordial relations with Chinese ambassadors, its largest trading partner, deteriorated after Beijing targeted businesses, sports teams, and even K-pop groups to protest the deployment of an advanced US anti-missile system in South Korea.

China fought alongside North Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War and has remained a staunch supporter of the North despite its missile launches and nuclear tests, as well as its opposition to more sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Last month, China dramatically changed its tight pandemic containment measures in response to what it claims was a changing nature of the outbreak. This followed three years of lockdowns, quarantines, and mass testing, which caused rare politically charged street protests in Beijing and other large cities.


Consumer Activity to Return to Normal Soon

According to the most optimistic projections, China‘s business and consumer activity might resume as soon as the first quarter of this year. But, until that happens, entrepreneurs and families are feeling the pinch of a viral outbreak that has left employers short of healthy staff and kept customers away from shopping malls, restaurants, hair salons, and gyms.

Forecasters say Xi’s government’s decision to lift curbs that had shut down factories and kept millions of Chinese citizens at home will hasten economic recovery, but it may disrupt activity this year as businesses scurry to adjust.

With the commencement of the Lunar New Year travel rush, which is anticipated to increase in the coming days, China is now facing a rise in cases and hospitalizations in major cities and is bracing for a further spread into less developed areas. While international flights remain curtailed, authorities predict that domestic train and air travel will more than treble compared to the same period last year.



Sweden Close To Becoming First ‘Smoke Free’ Country In Europe For 2024




STOCKHOLM — In Sweden’s outdoor bars and eateries, summer is in the air but not cigarette smoke.

The World Health Organisation will observe “World No Tobacco Day” on Wednesday, and Sweden, which has the lowest smoking rates in the European Union, is almost ready to declare itself “smoke free” (defined as having fewer than 5% of the population smoking every day).

While others refer to the presence of “snus,” a smokeless tobacco product prohibited elsewhere in the E.U. but marketed as an alternative to cigarettes in Sweden, many experts credit decades of anti-smoking campaigns and laws.

Regardless of the cause, the 5% goal is now within sight. According to the statistics agency Eurostat, only 6.4% of Swedes over 15 smoked every day in 2019, the lowest rate in the E.U. and significantly lower than the average of 18.5% for the 27-nation bloc.

According to statistics from Sweden’s Public Health Agency, the smoking rate has decreased since then and last year, it was 5.6%.

Carina Astorsson, a Stockholm resident, claimed that the reason was that “we like a healthy way of living.” She said she had never been interested in smoking because “I don’t like the smell; I want to take care of my body.”

Younger generations of health-conscious Swedes appear to be aware of the dangers of smoking. Nearly 20% of people smoked 20 years ago, a low rate globally. Since then, anti-smoking policies, such as those that forbid smoking in restaurants, have reduced the smoking rate throughout Europe.

From 2014 to 2019, France saw record-low smoking rates, but this progress halted during the COVID-19 epidemic, which is partly blamed for creating the stress that led to smoking. In France, about one-third of those between 18 and 75 admitted smoking in 2021, a small rise from the previous year. 25% of people smoke every day.

Sweden, which has the lowest smoking rates in the European Union, is almost ready to declare itself “smoke free”.

Sweden has taken more steps than others to outlaw smoking, and the country claims that this has positively impacted several health factors, including a comparatively low rate of lung cancer.

According to Ulrika Rehed, secretary-general of the Swedish Cancer Society, “We were early in restricting smoking in public spaces, first in school playgrounds and after-school centers, and later in restaurants, outdoor cafes, and public places like bus stations.” Taxes on cigarettes and severe regulations on marketing these items have been significant concurrent factors.

She continued, “Sweden is not there yet,” pointing out that smoking prevalence is higher among underprivileged socioeconomic categories.

In the 10.5 million-person nation, seeing individuals lighting up is getting harder and harder. Outside the entrances to hospitals and other public facilities, as well as at bus stops train platforms, and smoking is not permitted. Like most of Europe, Sweden has a smoking prohibition extending to bars and restaurants’ outdoor seating areas as of 2019.

On Tuesday night, many people ate and drank on Stockholm’s terraces as the sun sank. While cigarettes were not present, some tables did have snus cans. Some drinkers put tiny pouches of moist tobacco under their upper lips between beer sips.

Long promoting their product as a less dangerous alternative to smoking, Swedish snus manufacturers take pride in the nation’s dropping smoking rates. Health officials in Sweden hesitate to suggest smokers switch to snus, another extremely addictive nicotine substance.

Rehed declared, “I don’t see any justification for pitting two harmful products against one another.” “It is true that smoking is more dangerous than most other activities, including snus. But even with snus, there are numerous health hazards.

Snus use during pregnancy has been associated in certain studies with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and preterm births.


Sweden, which has the lowest smoking rates in the European Union, is almost ready to declare itself “smoke free”.

When Sweden joined the E.U. in 1995, they wanted an exception to the E.U.’s ban on smokeless tobacco since they are so fond of their snus, a distant relative of dipping tobacco in the United States.

“It’s part of the Swedish culture; it’s like the Swedish equivalent of Italian Parma ham or any other cultural habit,” said Patrik Hildingsson, a spokesman for Swedish Match, the leading snus producer in Sweden that tobacco giant Philip Morris recently purchased.

According to him, policymakers should push the tobacco industry to create less dangerous smoking substitutes like snus and e-cigarettes.

“I mean, there are still 1.2 billion smokers in the globe. In the E.U., almost 100 million individuals smoke every day. And I believe that the restrictions on policymaking are limited,” he remarked. You will need to offer smokers various alternate, less dangerous options.

Turkmenistan, which has a tobacco consumption rate below 5%, is ahead of Sweden in terms of phasing out smoking, according to WHO, the U.N. health office. However, it should be noted that this is mostly because smoking is virtually nonexistent among women. The rate is 7% for men.

The WHO credits a variety of tobacco control initiatives, such as education programs, restrictions on tobacco advertising, and “cessation support” for smokers who want to give up the habit, for Sweden’s dropping smoking rate. However, the agency pointed out that when you include snus and similar products, tobacco usage in Sweden is higher than 20% of the adult population, comparable to the global average.


Sweden, which has the lowest smoking rates in the European Union, is almost ready to declare itself “smoke free”.

In an email, which stated that “changing from one harmful product to another is not a solution.” The tobacco industry is attempting to deceive consumers about how deadly these products are by promoting a purported “harm reduction approach” to smoking.

According to Tove Marina Sohlberg, a researcher at the Department of Public Health Sciences at Stockholm University, Sweden’s anti-smoking laws stigmatize smoking and smokers, driving them into designated smoking locations and out of sight in public places.

She claimed that we are telling smokers their behavior is unacceptable in society.

One of the few remaining smokers in Stockholm, Paul Monja, thought about his habit as he prepared to light up.

He described it as an addiction that he hoped to overcome at some point. “Perhaps not now, maybe tomorrow.”


Continue Reading


2023: Ruling Clears Way For Purdue Pharma to Settle Opioid Claims, Protect Sacklers From Lawsuits




On Tuesday, a federal judge issued a verdict that allowed Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin, to settle hundreds of lawsuits over the devastating effects of opioids.

The affluent Sackler family of Stamford, Connecticut, would sell their stake in Purdue to a new business called Knoa, with the proceeds going towards combating the opioid crisis. This proposal was authorized by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. They would also make a long-term monetary investment of between $5.5 and $6 billion. At least $750 million will be distributed to opioid crisis victims and their families. Victims’ compensation is included in only one other large opioid lawsuit settlement.

Even though the Sackler family did not file for bankruptcy on Tuesday, they are shielded from legal action related to the opioid crisis due to the court’s judgment.

The judgment overturned a lower court decision from 2021, which held that judges in bankruptcy court had the authority to accept a deal that would extend bankruptcy protections to people who have not formally filed for bankruptcy.

The proposed settlement to resolve claims against Purdue brought by hundreds of state, local, and Native American tribal governments and other entities centers on these safeguards.

Ed Neiger, a lawyer for individual victims, said, “It’s a great day for victims, some of whom desperately need the money and have been waiting for this day for a long time.”

Members of the Sackler family have made it plain that they will only fulfill their obligations under the agreement if they are granted certain legal protections.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Sackler family, who owns Purdue, said, “The Sackler families believe the long-awaited implementation of this resolution is critical to providing substantial resources for people and communities in need.” To paraphrase, “We are pleased with the Court’s decision to allow the agreement to move forward and look forward to it taking effect as soon as possible.”


A federal judge issued a verdict that allowed Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin, to settle hundreds of lawsuits over the devastating effects of opioids.

In its statement, Purdue hailed the decision as “a victory for Purdue’s creditors, including the states, local governments, and victims who overwhelmingly support the Plan of Reorganisation.” The business has stated that it will prioritize providing “billions of dollars in value for victim compensation, opioid crisis abatement, and overdose rescue medicines.”

After a second round of negotiations late last year, all states previously on the fence about supporting the proposal finally joined in. There was only one major holdout, the Justice Department’s U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee’s Office.

In April 2022, a lawyer from that department argued before the 2nd Circuit that it was “fundamentally inconsistent” to allow some lawsuits to be dismissed from the cases of people who did not file for bankruptcy and thereby lost most of their assets.

The Justice Department did not immediately announce its intention to appeal the Supreme Court’s verdict on Tuesday. On Tuesday, a spokeswoman said they would not comment.

A judge in the bankruptcy court will need to approve the most recent version of the deal before it can go into effect.

Even while the Sackler family is still the legal owner of Purdue, they have not been compensated in years.


A federal judge issued a verdict that allowed Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin, to settle hundreds of lawsuits over the devastating effects of opioids.

After hearing arguments in the Purdue case last year, all three federal appeals judges concluded that the Sackler family could be shielded from legal action. Even if courts permit such arrangements, bankruptcy law does not, as one judge, Richard Wesley, pointed out in a separate judgment.

Regarding the opioid industry, Purdue may be the most well-known company. However, not only has one medicine manufacturer been sued by state and local governments, but so have several distribution corporations and pharmacies. Some lawsuits have gone to trial, but many more are being settled out of court.

More than $50 billion has been offered or paid out in settlements in the past few years. Drug manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Teva, wholesalers AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and retail pharmacies CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart all have agreements. More than half a million deaths in the United States over the previous two decades have been connected to the opioid problem, with over 70,000 deaths annually in recent years.

Fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids, not prescription painkillers, have been mostly responsible for deaths in recent years.


Continue Reading


US Study Finds 1 In 10 Get Long COVID- 19 After Omicron




WASHINGTON, DC covid-19 — Research of over 10,000 Americans hopes to shed light on the illness by revealing that about 10% of persons suffering from protracted COVID-19 following an omicron infection, a lower estimate than earlier in the epidemic.

Preliminary data from a study funded by the National Institutes of Health emphasize a dozen symptoms that most characterize chronic COVID, the umbrella term often encompassing devastating health problems that can linger months or years following even a moderate occurrence of COVID-19.

Long COVID affects millions worldwide, causing symptoms like fatigue and brain fog. Researchers have not yet determined a cure, an effective treatment, or even a reliable method of diagnosis. The key to research getting those answers is better describing the illness.


Long COVID affects millions worldwide, causing symptoms like fatigue and brain fog.

Dr. Leora Horwitz of NYU Langone Health and one of the study’s authors, noted, “Sometimes I hear people say, ‘Oh, everybody’s a little tired.'” “No, it’s crucial to understand that long-term COVID-19 patients are unique.”

More than 8,600 persons who had COVID-19 at various stages in the pandemic are included in the new study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, along with 1,100 controls.

About one-third of COVID-19 patients, by some accounts, have had chronic COVID-19. This is consistent with the experience of NIH research participants who reported being ill before the omicron variant arrived in the United States in December 2021. At the same time, recruitment for the study began, and scientists speculated that those who had already been experiencing COVID symptoms for some time could be more interested in participating.

In contrast, only roughly 10% of study participants who had their first coronavirus infection after the study began and were, therefore, able to report symptoms in real time continued to have them six months later.


While previous studies revealed a decrease in long COVID -19risk with the appearance of omicron, its descendants continue to spread today.

The main issue is how to find people who have long-term COVID and help them.

The present study identified Twelve symptoms as potentially defining long-term COVID: exhaustion, confusion, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, erectile dysfunction, loss of smell or taste, thirst, persistent cough, and odd movements.

Researchers rated the severity of the symptoms to provide a benchmark that might be used in future studies of potential long-term treatments for COVID, whether as part of the NIH study or elsewhere, to ensure that like patients are enrolled.

Horwitz emphasized that the list was not meant to be used by doctors to diagnose extended COVID but as a tool for future study. The long-term effects of the coronavirus can affect patients with a single symptom, multiple symptoms, or even no symptoms at all.

Horwitz said, “we don’t even know what that means,” despite the widespread interest in researching extended COVID.



Continue Reading

Recent News