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Biden pushes booster shots as he warns of challenging weeks ahead

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Renewing calls to get vaccinated amid a surge in COVID cases, US President Joe Biden reveals the United States is bracing for a challenging next few weeks

The president expressed sympathy, acknowledging that many Americans are tired of hearing about the pandemic – but as many of us looked to a brighter year in 2022 – being COVID safe like wearing a mask and social distancing seemed to be here to stay. 

Joe Biden revealed that COVID-19 cases were rising even at the White House as he urged unvaccinated Americans to get the jab – and others to get booster shots.

Biden’s remarks come as his administration has yet to offer comprehensive details about his plan to distribute half a billion tests for free – using a website. 

The administration is still in the procurement process, an official said, which decides which companies will supply the tests.

Health experts have warned that the nationwide shortage of rapid at-home tests is coming during a critical period for testing as the Omicron variant disrupts daily life.

Biden also had told reporters earlier Monday that he would address the change in the CDC’s isolation guidelines 

Global omicron cases are soaring – with many nations seeing record breaking infections. 

The US is now reporting more than one million cases a day, as scientists and governments hope to reach the peak in omicron cases over coming weeks.

Doctors in the US, UK and Australia are expecting case numbers to surge even higher over the next fortnight, as testing sites come under unprecedented strain.

But for now – the world wants to move forward – with lockdowns off the cards in many nations. The US for now is relying on vaccinating as the weapon against the virus, while Australia which is breaking records with cases in their tens of thousands is doing much the same, ruling out lockdowns. – and as for Britain, the UK government is ruling out new restrictions, for now.

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India’s ban on single-use plastics comes into effect

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India is banning many single-use plastics in a bid to tackle pollution

India produces around four million tonnes of plastic waste each year. But authorities will begin cracking down on usage and production of single-use plastics from Friday.

India’s Government believes 60 per cent of plastic waste is recycled. But a survey by the Centre for Science and Environment found the figure was 12 per cent in 2019.

When plastic waste is not recycled correctly, it creates fire hazards and air pollution, which blankets India’s major cities. It can also enter local waterways, which poisons wildlife.

New Delhi is the world’s most polluted city.

Some plastic bags and multi-layered packaging are exempt from these latest changes.

Millions of people are employed in the country’s plastic industry, with many pushing the government to delay the ban.

Street vendors are also expressing concerns around the changes.

The nation’s capital, New Delhi is the world’s most polluted city.

The Air Quality Institute found 510 million people who live in northern India “on track” to lose 7.6 years off their lives if pollution levels remain as they are.

Local authorities are set to decide the penalties for people in breach of the single-use plastics ban.

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U.K. Government in crisis as Tory whip resigns over sexual assault allegations

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Boris Johnson’s government is in crisis as the Tory whip resigned over allegations he groped two men while drunk

In his resignation letter, Chris Pincher admitted he “drank far too much” and embarrassed himself and other people.

“I think the right thing to do in the circumstances is for me to resign as Deputy Chief Whip. I owe it to you and the people I’ve caused upset to, to do this.”

CHRIS PINCHER

According to sources from Downing Street, it is unlikely Pincher will face any further action, and he will remain as a Conservative MP.

The Sun newspaper first reported the resignation, saying he was drinking at the Carlton Club when he is accused of assaulting two other male guests.

Reports suggest several concerned Tory MPs contacted the Conservative whips’ office to complain about Pincher’s behaviour.

Prime Minister is yet to comment on the matters.

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Beijing issues a stark warning to Canberra

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Beijing is warning Australia will “bear the consequences” if there are any military disputes in the South China Sea

China’s Defence Ministry says Australia is engaging in “risky” behaviour, as surveillance jets fly near the disputed Paracel Islands.

“What is the duty of a soldier? That is to defend the homeland,” says Colonel Tan Kefei.

The islands are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

It comes just weeks after an Australian Air Force was challenged by a Chinese J-16 fighter in the disputed territory.

A Chinese J-10 fighter, similar to the one involved in the incident.

Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles says some aluminium chaff was drawn into the engines of the P-8A Poseidon.

“The J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8 settling in front of the P-8 at a very close distance,” he said.

The aircraft made its way back to its base, and Marles said the crew responded “professionally”.

It’s believed the Chinese jet also fired flares and chaff as a countermeasure.

The Defence Minister said he had communicated his concerns to Chinese authorities over the incident.

But China’s defence spokesperson, Colonel Tan says “those who come uninvited shall bear the consequences.”

Canada has also been in the firing line, as they reportedly carry out U.N. missions near North Korea.

But Chinese authorities believe the jets were monitoring China “under the pretext of enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions”.

“No matter what the name or excuse is, it is completely unreasonable to send military planes to the door of others to provoke and jeopardise the national security of other countries,” says Colonel Tan.

Australia’s Prime Minister met with Canada’s leader, Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Madrid this week.

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