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Beijing reports zero increase in confirmed domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases


2020-07-07 浏览

Beijing on Monday reported no new confirmed domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases and one asymptomatic case, the municipal health commission said on Tuesday.

No new suspected cases were reported, and four were discharged from hospital after recovery on Monday, the commission said in a daily report.

From June 11 to July 6, the city reported 335 confirmed locally transmitted cases, of whom 320 were still hospitalized and 15 discharged from hospital after recovery. There were 31 asymptomatic cases under medical observation, the commission said.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

US authorities tell int'l students to leave US if universities go online-only


2020-07-07 浏览

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday announced that international students may have to leave the United States if their universities switch to online-only courses for the fall 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Otherwise they will risk violating their visa status.

"Nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes," said the ICE in a statement.

"If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave," said the statement.

Under the new guidelines modified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) run by the ICE, the US Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester, nor will US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.

Active nonimmigrant students currently in the US enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status, said the statement.

"If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings," the statement said.

Meanwhile, nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online, according to the statement.

Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model mixing online and in person classes, will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online, said the statement, noting these schools must certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20.

"The above exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursing vocational degrees, who are not permitted to enroll in any online courses," said the statement.

Schools should update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load, the statement added.

F-1 nonimmigrant students pursue academic coursework and M-1 nonimmigrant students pursue vocational coursework while studying in the United States.

The SEVP had allowed for foreign students to take their spring and summer 2020 courses online while remaining in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement came as numerous US higher education institutions are beginning to make the decision to transition to online courses as a result of the pandemic. Harvard and Princeton said Monday they will allow some students back to campus for the fall term, but offer most instruction online even for those who return in person.

Brad Farnsworth, vice president of the American Council on Education, told CNN that the announcement caught him and many others by surprise.

"We think this is going to create more confusion and more uncertainty," said Farnsworth, questioning what would happen if the public health situation deteriorates in the fall and universities that had been offering in-person classes feel they have to shift all courses online to stay safe.

"The bigger issue is some of these countries have travel restrictions on and they can't go home, so what do they do then?" asked Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, "It's a conundrum for a lot of students."

International enrollment in the US is down in every category, undergraduate, graduate and non-degree, with 269,383 enrolled in the 2018-2019 school year, compared with a high of 300,743 new students in 2015-2016, according to the Institute of International Education.

Data from the US Commerce Department showed that international students contributed 45 billion US dollars to the country in 2018.

The US Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

China unveils 9 new professions to keep pace with economic and social development


2020-07-07 浏览

China's human resources authority has given official recognition of nine new professions to keep pace with economic and social development, according to a statement on its website.

The new professions, mostly in the public health sector and emerging industries, include blockchain technicians, online marketers, information security testers, online learning consultants and community health assistants, among others, according to a statement jointly issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and other departments.

Five new types of work, such as livestreaming salesperson, have also been released, while three types of work related to public health services have been upgraded into professions.

The new jobs have been released to meet the demand in the sectors of public health and online business and services, and facilitate employment of college graduates, poor laborers and rural migrant workers.

Experts carefully and strictly chose all of the nine new professions based on relevant standards and procedures, and extensive social opinions have been considered, according to the statement.

This is the third time that China has added new professions to its occupation list since 2015 when the country unveiled its latest edition of occupational classifications.

In 1999, China published its first reference book on occupational classifications, which included 1,838 jobs.

In 2010, China started revising the reference book by adding new jobs, and finally published the latest edition of the reference book in 2015. As new industries bred many new jobs, China released the first batch of 13 new professions in April 2019 and the second group of 16 new professions in March 2020.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

Mysterious pink snow hits Italian glacier


2020-07-06 浏览

Scientists in Italy are investigating the mysterious appearance of pink glacial ice in the Alps, caused by algae that accelerate the effects of climate change.

There is debate about where the algae come from, but Biagio Di Mauro of Italy’s National Research Council said the pink snow observed on parts of the Presenae glacier is likely caused by the same plant found in Greenland.

“The alga is not dangerous, it is a natural phenomenon that occurs during spring and summer in the middle latitudes but also at the Poles,” said Di Mauro.

The plant, known as Ancylonema nordenskioeldii, is present in Greenland’s so-called Dark Zone.

Normally ice reflects more than 80 percent of the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere, but as algae appear, they darken the ice so that it absorbs the heat and melts more quickly. “Everything that darkens the snow causes it to melt because it accelerates the absorption of radiation,” said Di Mauro.

“We are trying to quantify the effect of other phenomena besides the human one on the overheating of the Earth,” Di Mauro added.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

Chinese mainland reports 4 new confirmed COVID-19 cases


2020-07-06 浏览

Chinese health authority said Monday that it received reports of four new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Sunday, of which one was domestically transmitted.

The domestically transmitted case was reported in Beijing, the National Health Commission said in its daily report.

No deaths related to the disease were reported Sunday, according to the commission.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

Plague case confirmed in N China's Inner Mongolia


2020-07-06 浏览

North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has confirmed one bubonic plague case, local health authorities announced late Sunday evening.

The case was first reported as a suspected case on Saturday at the people's hospital in Urad Middle Banner in Bayannur City.

The patient, a local herdsman, has now been quarantined and is in stable condition.

Local authorities in Bayannur have issued a level III warning for plague prevention and control that will last until the end of 2020, the municipal commission said in a press release.

It also urged the public to beef up self-protection as the city is at risk of people-to-people infections and not to hunt and eat animals that could cause plague infections.

The agency also called on the public to report any findings of ill or dead marmots and other animals, and report suspected plague cases, high fever patients with unknown reasons and any patients who die suddenly.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

UK and US criticized for meddling in China affairs


2020-07-03 浏览

China condemned foreign meddling in the country’s internal affairs on Thursday, after Britain decided to extend a broader path to citizenship for the residents of Hong Kong and the US House of Representatives passed the so-called “Hong Kong Autonomy Act.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said no amount of pressure from external forces could “shake China’s determination and will to safeguard national sovereignty and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”

He urged the US to abide by international law and stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, and not sign the sanction bill into law.

His comments came after the US House of Representatives on Wednesday joined the Senate in approving a bill imposing sanctions on groups that “undermine the city’s autonomy” under the pretext of a national security legislation in Hong Kong.

If the bill becomes law, “China will definitely take strong countermeasures, and all consequences will be borne by the US side,” Zhao said.

Meanwhile, dozens of lawmakers protested outside the US Consulate in Hong Kong to demand that the US stop meddling. The group said it gathered 1.6 million signatures online in support of its call.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also condemned the UK’s citizenship offer to Hong Kong residents and warned of “consequences.”

“All Chinese compatriots living in Hong Kong, including those with British National (Overseas) passport, are Chinese nationals,” he said.

About 370 people were arrested during and after Wednesday’s illegal assembly, including 10 on suspicion of violating the new security law.

Hong Kong police arrested a man on a London-bound flight early Thursday on suspicion of having stabbed a police officer in the arm during Wednesday’s protests.

The 24-year-old man, surnamed Wong, was arrested on a Cathay Pacific flight after police received an anonymous tip-off about his travel plans, police said.

Wong had purchased a ticket on Wednesday and boarded the flight with no check-in luggage, police said. He did not respond to the crew when they called him by name, and was not in his designated seat. Police identified him after conducting a sweep of the plane.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

China to honor Korean War veterans with medals


2020-07-03 浏览

China will bestow memorial medals upon Chinese People’s Volunteer Army veterans of the 1950-53 Korean War to mark the 70th anniversary of their participation.

The medals are to be presented in the name of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission, said a statement released on Thursday by an office in charge of granting Party and state awards and honors.

In addition to those who fought in the war, other people eligible for the medals include those who provided services during the war such as medical workers, transport sector workers, translators, truce talk participants, militia, migrant workers, journalists, writers, photographers, as well as those who stayed on to help with post-war economic recovery in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

New study analyzes three models for forecasting COVID-19 spread


2020-07-03 浏览

US researchers have presented and detailed three regional-scale models for forecasting and assessing the course of COVID-19 pandemic in a new study published on Thursday.

The three models are, an exponential growth model, a self-exciting branching process model, and the susceptible-infected-resistant (SIR) compartment model, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Modeling and forecasting the spread of COVID-19 is critical for effective public health policy, yet it remains challenging to do so, according to the research team led by Andrea Bertozzi, professor of Mathematics and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at University of California, Los Angeles.

Models of disease transmission that have a minimal number of parameters can help isolate key features of the pandemic that may be relevant for policymaking.

In the United States and several European countries, infections and deaths exhibited exponential growth with similar doubling times in the early stages of the outbreak.

A self-exciting point process model suggests that as of early April, 2020, the reproduction number of COVID-19 had declined to less than 1 in China, but remained greater than 1 in the United States and Italy, with substantial variation among US states.

Compartment models, which fit the data well for some US states, suggest that the fraction of the population infected depends only on the basic reproduction number R0, regardless of the fraction of the population initially infected.

Short-term social distancing might not substantially reduce the total number of infections if it is relaxed before a vaccine or effective antiviral therapies are introduced, according to the researchers.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

Unpopular New Zealand health minister quits after COVID lapse


2020-07-02 浏览

New Zealand's health minister resigned on Thursday after a public backlash over his breach of lockdown and his criticism of the civil servant responsible for the country's world-leading novel coronavirus response.

Outgoing minister David Clark was already under a cloud after breaking lockdown in April and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who faces an election in September, admitted his presence had become a distraction.

"It's essential our health leadership has the confidence of the New Zealand public," she said.

"As David has said to me, the needs of the team must come before him as an individual."

Clark described himself as "an idiot" in April after admitting he breached strict lockdown orders by taking a 20-kilometer drive to the beach with his family.

He kept his job but was kept out of the public eye, with health department director-general Ashley Bloomfield appearing alongside Ardern to give daily updates on the coronavirus crisis.

As the success of New Zealand's response became apparent — it has recorded only 22 deaths in a population of 5 million — the bespectacled Bloomfield became wildly popular, with fans printing his face on tea towels and posting tributes on social media.

It meant there was public anger when Clark criticized Bloomfield for a series of mistakes linked to border quarantine and footage went viral of the minister admonishing his subordinate as the civil servant stood by looking crestfallen.

Critics said it was "like kicking a puppy" and accused Clark of throwing Bloomfield "under a bus."

Announcing his resignation, Clark insisted he had a warm relationship with Bloomfield and singled him out for praise.

"He is an exceptional public servant," Clark told reporters.

"Thank you Ashley and your team for the extraordinary work you have done for our country during our most serious health crisis in a century."

Clark denied he was pushed from his ministerial position ahead of the September 19 election, saying he only stayed on after breaking lockdown because he did not want to leave in the midst of a health emergency.

"Now that we're on a stable footing, it feels appropriate to let someone else take the reins," he said.

Ardern said Education Minister Chris Hipkins would handle the health portfolio until the election.

If the government is reelected, Ardern did not rule out another ministerial role for Clark, who plans to stay in parliament.
来源: Shanghai Daily  

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