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UAE announces 1,289 new COVID-19 cases, 768 recoveries, and 4 deaths in last 24 hours

ABU DHABI, 1st December, 2020 (WAM) — The Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, announced that it conducted 129,900 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, using state-of-the-art medical testing equipment. In a statement on Tuesday, the Ministry stressed its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment. As part of its intensified testing campaign, MoHAP announced 1,289 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the UAE to 170,149. According to the Ministry, the infected individuals are from various nationalities, are in a stable condition, and are receiving the necessary care. MoHAP also announced 4 deaths due to COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 576. The Ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and wished COVID-19 patients a speedy and full recovery. It called on all members of the society to cooperate with health authorities, adhere to the instructions and physical distance to ensure the health and safety of all. MoHAP also noted that an additional 768 individuals had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 155,667.

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Hamilton tests positive for Covid-19, to miss Sakhir GP

By missing Sakhir, the penultimate race on the calendar, Hamilton will not be able to match the record for the most wins in a single season

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss the upcoming Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain, the sport’s governing body, the FIA, said on Tuesday.

Briton Hamilton, who has already wrapped up his seventh world title and picked up his 11th win of the season at Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, was isolating with mild symptoms but otherwise fit and well, his Mercedes team said in a statement.

“Lewis was tested three times last week and returned a negative result each time, the last of which was on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit…,” the Brackley-based team said.

“However, he woke up on Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive.

“Lewis therefore took a further test and returned a positive result. This has since been confirmed by a retest.”

By missing Sakhir, the penultimate race on the calendar, Hamilton will not be able to match the record for the most wins in a single season. Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel share that mark with 13 wins — Schumacher from 18 races in 2004 and Vettel from 19 in 2013.

The season will end with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina track on Dec. 13. It is unclear whether Hamilton will take part.

Mercedes said they would announce a replacement driver for the Sakhir race in due course.

Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne, who races for the Mercedes Formula E team and had been scheduled to fly to Bahrain even before Hamilton’s positive result, and Mexican Esteban Gutierrez are the team’s reserve drivers.

They also have Briton George Russell, who races for Williams, on their books.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said in October that every precaution was being taken to shield Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas from the pandemic, with internal debriefs and engineering meetings also taking place via video call.

Hamilton, 35, has been staying in his motorhome at most circuits.

Formula One has seen a clutch of high-profile Covid-19 cases, with Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley testing positive last week and missing the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Williams team last month said it had registered a number of positive Covid-19 cases including acting team principal Simon Roberts, who missed the Turkish Grand Prix.

Racing Point have had both their drivers, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, as well as team owner Lawrence Stroll test positive.

Formula One embarked on a shortened 17-race season in July after a positive test for a McLaren employee forced the cancellation of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March.

The sport has put strict rules in place to try to keep the novel coronavirus at bay. Personnel cannot access the paddock without a negative result and are tested every five days. Teams also do their own tests.

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UK’s Debenhams, 242-year-old departent store, to shut down

The future of around 25,000 retailing jobs in Britain hangs in the balance after the failure of two long-established companies laid bare the fragility of much of the sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Long-suffering Debenhams, the 242-year-old department store chain, said Tuesday that administrators had decided to start winding down operations after a potential buyer of the company pulled out. The move looks like it will cost 12,000 jobs.

It was another devastating blow to the sector, coming just hours after Arcadia Group, the retail empire of billionaire Philip Green, went into administration, a type of bankruptcy protection, late Monday.

Both companies are set to reopen their doors in England on Wednesday when they emerge from a near month-long lockdown that forced the closure shops selling items deemed to be non-essential, including clothes. Since the pandemic took root in March, the UK has forced the closure of retailing outlets in various ways.

For Debenhams, the reopening of its 124 UK stores is not expected to last long even though the administrators said they will continue to seek offers “for all or parts of the business” while they start selling off stock and liquidating the business.

Arcadia’s stable of brands, which includes the likes of Burton, Miss Selfridge and Topshop, could still have a future and administrators are seeking buyers for all or parts of the company.

Retail experts said the pandemic and the associated restrictions only tell part of the problems facing the companies. Both have struggled to respond to the increased competition from low-cost rivals like Primark, as well as from online retailers.

It looks like a sad end for Debenhams, which can trace its history back to 1778 when William Clark set up a store in London’s West End selling fabrics, bonnets, gloves and parasols. In 1813 William Debenham invested in the firm, which became Clark & Debenham. By 1950, the renamed Debenhams was one of the largest department store groups in the UK.

Retail chain JD Sports had been mulling an offer for Debenhams but pulled out after Arcadia said it was going into administration. Arcadia is the biggest operator of concessions in Debenhams department stores, so its potential collapse affected Debenhams’ appeal.

Debenhams, which went into administration in April, has already axed 6,500 jobs. It said it will continue to trade both in-shop and online to clear its current and contracted stocks.

“On conclusion of this process, if no alternative offers have been received, the UK operations will close,” the company said in a statement.

Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, which is joint administrator for Debenhams, said “the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.”

Around 12 hours earlier, Arcadia called in administrators from Deloitte. It said the forced closure of its stores over long periods this year had “severely impacted” on trading.

As well as suffering from the pandemic, critics have said the 68-year-old Green, who has been embroiled in a series of controversies over the past few years, hasn’t invested enough in the businesses to get them in shape to deal with new, nimbler online competitors.

“Arcadia has suffered against these emerging players because the company was slow to develop an innovative and user-friendly online offering as well as a strong brand narrative and social media presence,” said Nina Marston, fashion and luxury analyst at Euromonitor International.

Unlike Debenhams, there are hopes that something can be salvaged from Arcadia and Deloitte’s Matt Smith said he expects “to identify one or more buyers to ensure the future success of the businesses.”

Arcadia, like Debenhams, has a long history, tracing its roots back to the early 1900s, when 18-year-old Lithuanian émigré, Montague Burton, arrived in Britain. Brands were added to the Burton menswear business before the umbrella company Arcadia was formed in 1997. Green took the company over in 2002 and in the first few years, his stewardship won him admirers, helping his brands to link up with the likes of supermodel Kate Moss and singer Beyonce.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 01 December 2020 KSA 16:48 – GMT 13:48

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Wary Turks aren’t buying President Erdogan’s economic promise yet

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s promise of a new economic era triggered a foreign-driven rally in the lira, but local investors have yet to be persuaded that policies they say have dragged on economic prospects for years will be reversed.

Interviews with local portfolio managers, gold sellers and business owners suggest Erdogan’s biggest challenge will be convincing Turkish individuals and companies he can turn last month’s rhetoric of market-friendly reforms into reality.

“There is a protective reflex”, built up after years of lira depreciation, said Baris Hocaoglu, general manager of Istanbul Portfoy, which manages 7 billion lira ($900 million) of assets and recommends a “cautious stance” to clients.

“Until the trust and stability are established, especially individual investors’ interest in gold and foreign exchange (FX) will continue.”

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Local wariness also reflects other risks, including the resurgent coronavirus pandemic and signs of friction within Erdogan’s government that could worsen.

Turks have faced mostly double-digit unemployment and inflation for four years. Twice since mid-2018 the economy has sharply contracted while half the lira’s value has evaporated, setting both back compared to peers.

Early last month, convinced by allies his economic policies were failing, Erdogan installed a new central bank chief who hiked interest rates to 15 percent to boost the record-low currency.

Foreign investors, who hold only 5 percent of Turkish bonds, then chased some of the highest yields in emerging markets, pushing the lira 12 percent higher. That rally was partially reversed by Turks, who still face negligible deposit rates, buying $4 billion of gold and foreign exchange in two weeks.

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Locals could warm to the lira if deposit rates are pulled higher by further monetary tightening, analysts say.

But for now they remain cool. Bankers say that for the first time in five years some Turkish energy importers are requesting market quotes for dollars and euros, while at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar gold coins and jewelry are selling at $3 above international prices.

Mehmet Ali Yildirimturk, deputy head of a city gold shops association who operates at the Bazaar, said only “concrete actions” from the government will win trust. “Until then the local investor is still interested in physical gold,” he said.

Pandemic and politics

A growing reason for caution is the coronavirus surge that has closed the doors to restaurants and schools, leaving people out of work as they were in a spring lockdown.

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On Monday, Erdogan announced curfews and said the government is taking careful steps to avoid “a full-blown economic and social crisis”. Yet some in the vast small-business services sector see more signs of mismanagement.

“We are facing unjust competition and don’t have the big budgets like supermarkets Metro, Migros, Carrefour,” said Oktay Dagasan, 42, who runs a small Istanbul liquor shop that must now close early.

“We are finished economically and buried under credit card and loan debt,” he said. The government should give tax and rent support and “come out among the people and see what it is like,” he added.

In an interview, Numan Kurtulmus, deputy chair of Erdogan’s ruling AK Party (AKP), said high unemployment and current account deficits will be solved as part of the new approach but it would take time.

“We will have a difficult period ahead of us, especially because of the pandemic,” he said last week.

The AKP has slipped in opinion polls and one of its founding members resigned from a key post at the presidency last month after his calls for judicial reform were rejected by Erdogan and the leader of his nationalist coalition partner.

Some analysts say risks of an early election have risen along with prospects of economic sanctions, given a row with the European Union over territorial waters and expectations of tougher US bilateral ties under a Joe Biden White House.

“The public closely follows the ongoing political conflict in Ankara, and senses that the end might be an early election or a costly conflict with the West,” said Atilla Yesilada, analyst at GlobalSource Partners.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 01 December 2020 KSA 16:37 – GMT 13:37

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Car drives into pedestrians in German city Trier killing two people: Police

At least two people were killed and several others injured on Tuesday when they were hit by a car in a pedestrian area of the western German city of Trier, police said.

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“We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured. Two people have died, according to preliminary indications. Please continue to avoid the downtown area,” police said on Twitter.

The Trierischer Volksfreund local newspaper quoted an eyewitness as saying a dark grey Range Rover was driving at high speed and people had been thrown through the air.

It said the city center had been cordoned off and helicopters were circling overhead.

The mayor of Trier had rushed to the scene, and there is to be a news conference shortly, it said.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 01 December 2020 KSA 16:57 – GMT 13:57

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World economy back to pre-Covid level in 2021: OECD

The world economy will bounce back to its pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year, a global watchdog predicted Tuesday, though that recovery will be uneven across the countries and big risks remain.

In a wide-ranging report on the economy, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said that progress on coronavirus vaccines means that the outlook has improved for the first time since the pandemic began.

“The road ahead is brighter, but challenging,” wrote Laurence Boone, chief economist at the OECD, in the report.

It predicts the global economy will shrink about 4.2 per cent this year and rebound by the same rate in 2021 before growing 3.7 per cent the following year.

China, which has brought its virus infections under control better than many major economies, will account for a big part of that economic recovery, while Europe, Japan and the U.S. will lag, the OECD said.

The organisation, which advises countries on economic policy, said that governments should continue to support people who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and the restrictions on public life and businesses.

It recommends investing public money in areas that deliver long-term benefits like health care, education, reducing inequality and fighting climate change. Global cooperation is sorely needed to maximize the impact of government efforts to bring the economy back to health.

“International cooperation has faltered in recent years, just when it was needed more than ever,” Boone said.

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Academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert thanks supporters after release from Iran prison

An Australian-British academic released after two years imprisoned in Iran on spying charges said she thanked supporters from the “bottom of my heart” Tuesday, saying they helped her through a “never-ending, unrelenting nightmare.”

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

In her first statement since arriving back in Australia, Middle East scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert said she was “totally blown away” by efforts from friends and family to secure her release.

“I honestly have no words to express the depth of my gratitude and how touched I am,” the 33-year-old said.

“It gave me so much hope and strength to endure what had seemed like a never-ending, unrelenting nightmare. My freedom truly is your victory. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”

Moore-Gilbert was released last week in a swap for three Iranians linked to a botched plot to kill Israeli officials in Bangkok.

She was arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2018, after attending an academic conference in the holy city of Qom in central Iran.

She was later charged with espionage and sentenced to 10 years in jail, allegations she has denied.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 01 December 2020 KSA 16:17 – GMT 13:17

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UAE reports 1,289 Covid cases, 768 recoveries, 4 deaths

Nearly 17 million Covid-19 tests have been carried out in the country.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Tuesday reported 1,289 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 768 recoveries and four deaths.

As many as new 129,900 Covid-19 tests were carried out, taking the total number of tests conducted to 16.85 million.

Total number of cases in UAE stand at 170,149, while recoveries are 155,667. Death tol stands at 576 as of December 1.

The total number of active cases in the country are 13,906.

UAE remembers frontliners who died battling pandemic

On Commemoration Day (November 30), the leadership and people came together to recognise and remember the fallen frontline heroes who have sacrificed their lives to provide a better future for people in the country.

“In what has been an unprecedented year, this is a day for us all to reflect and remember our nation’s frontline professionals who worked tirelessly to protect us all from coronavirus and made the ultimate sacrifice,” Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Frontline Heroes Office said in a statement issued today.

The office revealed the names of frontliners who sacrificed their lives as they battled Covid-19.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Monday called the families of the heroes who passed away while battling to contain the coronavirus pandemic on the frontline.

During the phone conversations, Sheikh Mohamed expressed thanks and appreciation for the great role the fallen heroes played and the dedication they demonstrated while working to combat the pandemic. He said the Emirati community will never forget their sacrifices.

“We are very proud of our heroes who lived with us and were part of our social fabric. They worked hard to protect our health and to ensure our safety during difficult times,” he said.

Sheikh Mohamed added that the people of the UAE cherish their heroes, Emiratis and residents alike, look up to them as role models and value their sacrifices.

“The UAE will never forget the sacrifices made by Dr Sudhir Rambhau Washimkar, nurse Lezly Orione, Anvar Ali, Ahmed Al Sebaei, Dr. Bassam Bernieh and other heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect our loved ones. The families of the heroes of humanity are part of our society and the UAE will always support and stand by them.”

Covid-19 vaccine for families of martyrs

The Martyrs’ Families’ Affairs Office (MFAO) at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court launched a campaign to vaccinate the families of martyrs with the coronavirus vaccine, in cooperation with the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi. The MFAO also launched the campaign #UAEisproudofyou that engaged all segments of society in activities and events to express appreciation and pride for the martyrs’ sacrifices. The campaign featured events and activities that targeted various societal segments. Programmes tailored for students saw them draw portraits that reflected the martyrs’ sacrifices.

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Coronavirus: Madrid inaugurates COVID-19 hospital amid protests over staffing

The Madrid region on Tuesday inaugurated a 100-million-euro hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, though unions say a lack of healthcare workers has raised questions about how it will be staffed.

The cost of the newly built hospital, which doubled from the original announcement, and Spain’s shortage of health sector staff have been criticized by local opposition politicians and labor unions.

Arriving at the hospital for the inauguration, regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso was greeted by dozens of protesting healthcare workers with placards reading: “Politicians’ hospitals” and “Enough.”

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

The new hospital, called Isabel Zendal in honor of a 19th century nurse who led early vaccination campaigns, was built in just three months near Madrid airport. It will eventually have a capacity of 1,056 beds, including 48 intensive care beds, the regional authority said.

In a first step, a wing with 240 beds, including an intensive care unit, will open. That wing will require 669 staff including nurses, doctors and technicians.

“The hiring will start gradually according to healthcare needs,” the Madrid region said in a statement, without elaborating.

Labor unions say with healthcare staff working flat out in a country that has been hit hard by the coronavirus, and with many hospitals suffering staff shortages, they fear the new hospital will only poach crews from other health facilities.

“Nothing will be solved,” nursing union SATSE said in a statement, calling the new hospital a vanity project.
“Rather, existing units and services will be dismantled as they will have to operate without the professional nurses they need.”

Spain has registered more than 1.6 million coronavirus cases, the second highest number in Western Europe, and more than 45,000 deaths.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 01 December 2020 KSA 15:56 – GMT 12:56

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Bahrain delegation in Israel for talks on boosting cooperation

A 40-strong Bahraini delegation arrived in Israel Tuesday for two days of talks on boosting economic cooperation and tourism after the two countries normalized relations in September.

The Gulf state of Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates in signing up to a US-brokered deal to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, becoming the third and fourth Arab countries to do so.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi had been due to visit Bahrain this week but the trip was cancelled, diplomatic sources told AFP without elaborating.

The cancellation followed the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist blamed on the Israeli spy agency, the Mossad.

Last month, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdellatif al-Zayani held Jerusalem talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was on a farewell visit.

The latest delegation, led by Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, landed at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday, Israeli diplomatic sources confirmed.

The delegation is scheduled to meet both Ashkenazi and Netanyahu on Wednesday.

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Israeli authorities did not indicate whether the delegation would visit the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Many Palestinians are hostile to Arab governments normalizing their relations with Israel without a comprehensive peace deal and oppose such visits.

The Waqf, which manages Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City, cannot bar any Muslim from visiting them.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 01 December 2020 KSA 15:43 – GMT 12:43