Covid-19 updates: Kerala eases curbs; India vaccinates 17% of population


Coronavirus updates: Kerala ended night curfews restrictions on Sundays as a measure on how quickly the coronavirus is spreading had improved, said its chief minister on Tuesday.

Passengers coming from seven countries will have to take a test for Covid on arrival in India–irrespective of negative medical report before boarding or vaccination status, the health ministry has said. 

World coronavirus updates: Three-quarters of US adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The country hit the 70 per cent threshold in early August, four weeks beyond President Joe Biden’s target, Bloomberg reported.

Philippine authorities have deferred easing restrictions on public movement in the capital region, keeping the current curbs potentially through September 15, said a presidential spokesperson.

Myanmar’s junta said it wants to receive 10 million doses each in September October 4 million in November. The country targeted vaccinating half its population by year-end, said Bloomberg.


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Mexico’s Supreme Court declares anti-abortion laws unconstitutional


In a decisive blow to the pro-life movement, Mexico’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that punishing abortion is unconstitutional, setting a historic precedent in the heavily Roman Catholic country that will compel other judges to follow suit. 

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that it is unconstitutional to punish abortion, unanimously annulling several provisions of a law from Coahuila — a state on the Texas border — that had made abortion a criminal act. 

A woman holds a banner reading, in Spanish, “Legal, safe, free abortion, legalize decriminalize abortion now, for the independence autonomy of our bodies,” as abortion-rights protesters demonstrate in front of the National Congress in Mexico City.

“From now on you will not be able to, without violating the court’s criteria the constitution, charge any woman who aborts under the circumstances this court has ruled as valid,” court President Arturo Zaldívar said. 

Those circumstances will be clarified when the decision is published, but everything points to that referring to abortions carried out within the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, the period allowed in the four states where abortion is already legal.


The decision comes one week after a Texas law took effect prohibiting abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity in the fetus. It allows any private citizen to sue Texas abortion providers who violate the law, as well as anyone who “aids or abets” a woman getting the procedure.

Only four Mexican states — Mexico City, Oaxaca, Veracruz Hidalgo — now allow abortion in most circumstances. The other 28 states penalize abortion with some exceptions.

Mexico is a heavily Roman Catholic country. The church was a powerful institution through colonial times after Mexico’s independence, but a reform movement in the mid-19th century sharply limited the church’s role in daily life. 

The topic still remains deeply controversial in Mexico, that divide was on full display Tuesday as groups from both sides demonstrated outside the court. 


The decision could potentially open another option for Texas women seeking legal abortions along Mexico’s long shared border with the Lone Star State. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Who are the Afghan evacuees brought to the US?


At three U.S. military bases in Europe: Ramstein, Germany; Sigonella, Italy Rota, Spain, the FBI, Customs Border Protection NCIS have hundreds of agents overseeing the screening of about 17,000 Afghan evacuees.

“I’m very comfortable that, you know, these folks are being properly cleared through the FBI,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told Fox News in an exclusive interview at Ramstein after he thanked the troops who built from scratch an overnight makeshift TSA to screen the thousands of evacuees.

“I talked to the security folks,” Milley said after walking through the screening process. “They’re getting their names registered. They’re doing biometrics. They check their irises, they do their fingerprints. They take a full facial photo. They run that against the 20 years of databases that we have.”


About 30,000 Afghan evacuees passed through Ramstein en route to the U.S., where most will be sent to eight additional U.S. military bases for further screening.

“A couple of hundred or something like that of popped red. Once the individual comes out as red, something is up. Then they go into an individual room the interviews start interviewing with the FBI, CID, NCIS, those sorts of folks. And then they work through whatever the issues were. In many of the cases, they end up getting cleared others we have to take further measures,” Milley told Fox. 

Those further measures include detention at a U.S. military base in Kosovo.

Afghans line up outside a bank to take out cash as people keep waiting at Hamid Karzai International Airport to leave the country after Taliban’s takeover in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 25, 2021.
(Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anyone flagged for drug or terror ties – anyone on a U.S. watch list is sent to Camp Bondsteel. where they can be held for up to a year. Afghans who have been sent to the U.S. have been screened three times before arrival. Most of the random samples of evacuees that Fox interviewed had some connection to helping the U.S. government in Afghanistan, like Youssef Abdullah, a 13-year-old whose father worked for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency – his father is already in the U.S.

“My father was a linguist inside the airport. That’s how we were able to get enter into the airport now we are here.” He his mother five siblings were waiting on a makeshift cot in an airport hangar at Ramstein to join their father in the U.S. Ramstein military volunteers are providing 50,000 hot meals a day to these evacuees. They built a city provide hot showers, clean clothes. Most of the evacuees were only allowed to wear the clothes on their backs a cellphone, no luggage.


Many had been guards at the U.S. Embassy or worked for various U.S. government entities. Some were among the 600 Afghan Special Forces who helped guard the Kabul Airport in those final days, including this interpreter named Sher Mohammed who Fox interviewed in Sigonella, Italy.

“I feel very, very happy just where we’re safe right now. When I was in Kabul, in Afghanistan, I was very afraid, afraid of being captured by the Taliban. Right now I’m very happy,” Mohammed said while awaiting an onward flight from Sigonella.

One brother sister told Milley’s wife Hollyanne that they had a full scholarship to the University of Kentucky, Louisville, a university in Austria. A 21-year-old student from the American University of Kabul, Mehria Ghafoori, was pulled into the airport by a US Marine. She escaped alone left her entire family to escape. She was being held in a Kinderpod set up with 38 orphans separated from their parents during the chaotic airport evacuation.

“It was so difficult to leave my family behind come, but I had no choice,” she said.


“My family was in the airport, they wanted to come with me, all of my family but they couldn’t make it because Taliban started gunfire,” Ghafoori said. “So my family just told me, you go save your life. It’s alright. We will stay here.” She began caring for two of the orphans in the Kinderpod.  

Fox News has learned the CIA alone helped the State Department Defense Department to evacuate more than 30,000 Afghans who had helped the U.S. over the years or were known Afghans flagged by trusted sources.

“CIA worked closely with other US government agencies to support in various ways the evacuation of thousands of American citizens, local embassy staff, vulnerable Afghans,” a CIA spokesperson told Fox.


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CDC warns against travel to Jamaica over Covid


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention has cautioned Americans not to travel to Jamaica, Lebanon, or Sri Lanka amid a rise in the number of COVID-19 delta variant cases.

The CDC increased travel advisories on Tuesday to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” for those countries, indicating they have “a very high level of COVID-19 in the country.”

The health warning cautions potential travelers that “health risks are present, including current disease outbreaks or crises that disrupt a country’s medical infrastructure.”


Similar coronavirus travel warnings were updated to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” for Anguilla, Australia, Brunei, Ghana, Grenada, Madagascar, the Turks Caicos Islands.

Despite the prominence of the delta variant coronavirus—which has become the mainstream variant of the virus—growing levels of the mu variant, travel advisories have reportedly been eased for travel to the Netherlands, Malta, Guinea-Bissau, the United Arab Emirates.

JAMAICA – JANUARY 27, 2020: Passengers at Norman Manley International Airport. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images)
( Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the CDC also increased the travel advisory for Nicaragua to a “Level 4” but did so for socio-political reasons that are not coronavirus-related.


The nation’s health protection agency continues to recommend people not to travel internationally until they are fully vaccinated as “international travel poses additional risks.” This includes an “increased risk for getting possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants.”

All international travelers should continue to wear personal face masks on public transportation, per the travel guidelines.


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India’s school lockdowns have robbed a generation of upward mobility


Economic lockdowns hurt output, but once they’re lifted, activity usually bounces back, jobs return. School lockouts, by comparison, may have a longer more pernicious effect.

A new survey of nearly 1,400 underprivileged school children across 15 Indian states raises some disturbing possibilities. A year-and-a-half of pandemic-related school closures, for instance, have created a four-year learning deficit. A student who was in Grade 3 before Covid-19 is now in Grade 5, will soon enter middle school, but with reading abilities of a Grade 1 pupil.

Trying to narrow this gap would put enormous demands on a reluctant welfare state, while leaving it unaddressed would lop off from India’s “demographic dividend ”–the high growth the country can potentially achieve while it still enjoys a relatively youthful population.

The School Children’s Online Offline Learning, or SCHOOL, survey, overseen by a group of economists including Jean Dreze Reetika Khera, shines a spotlight on the biggest losers of lockouts: the poor. At the family level, there is reasonably high access to smartphones: 77% in urban areas, 51% in villages, just what one would expect in a country witnessing a digital revolution of sorts amid crashing handset data prices. Yet, even among households that possess internet-enabled devices, the proportion of children who’re regularly studying online dwindles to 31% in cities 15% in villages. The wage-earner’s claim on the phone clearly outweighs its utility as an educational device.

“The school has been closed ever since the pandemic began.” That was the sentence, in large typeface, that volunteer surveyors asked children to read in their local language. About 35% of Grade 3-5 students in cities 42% of the cohort in villages couldn’t manage more than a few letters.

From Wall Street, the view of technology-assisted learning in India looks very different. As China cracks down on private education, India is witnessing a surge of interest, with an estimated $4 billion flowing into the industry over the last 18 months. Byju’s, a startup valued at $16.5 billion, is in early discussions about an initial public offer. Smaller rivals like Eruditus UpGrad raised money from investors last month.

But the thriving edtech market caters mostly to the needs of the wealthier segments of the population. Those who make a precarious living from non-salaried occupations–rank far from the top in Indian society’s caste hierarchy–can do little to change findings that show that, away from generally better-equipped urban schools, only 12% of children who have some access to online education participate in live lessons.

As for those who’re consigned to the offline world, the biggest learning is from teacher-assigned homework, which even in cities covers just 39% of students. Homework without regular feedback has questionable pedagogic value, but that’s another matter. Delivery of education was lopsided even before the pandemic, but has become more so because of a yawning digital divide.

Some Indian states are beginning to acknowledge that physical classes for primary middle-school students have to resume without further delay. Otherwise, learning gaps may become impossible to reverse, causing higher dropout rates concomitant social problems, including youth violence. Future productivity may suffer, income inequality could worsen as a generation is robbed of a shot at upward mobility. Society must place at least some weight on the future of today’s disadvantaged children even as it deals with the immediate public health challenge.

The good news is that India’s poor haven’t given up on education. The SCHOOL survey notes that child labor is unusual among very young children, though among girls aged 10 to 14, a “large majority” are now doing some housework and, in villages, 8% of them had done paid work in the preceding three months.

Before more families are tempted to bargain away their future for food, schools must reopen.

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