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In pictures: How COVID-19 changed our cities in 2020

In pictures: How COVID-19 changed our cities in 2020

EMMA BATHA FROM compulsory mask-wearing to pop-up cycle lanes and sanitising robots, the coronavirus pandemic has changed our cities in countless ways. Here are some images from 2020.  A dog wears a mask inside an autorickshaw in Chennai, India, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/P. Ravikumar As lockdowns took hold, some of the world's noisiest and most crowded cities became eerily quiet, including metropolises like New York - dubbed the "city that never sleeps". Clockwise: Deserted streets, Paris, France, April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol. The Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto. A policeman crosses a street in…
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Tech’s long COVID-19: What privacy battles will define 2021?

Tech’s long COVID-19: What privacy battles will define 2021?

UMBERTO BACCHI THE coronavirus pandemic added a new layer to the ever-developing debate around privacy and technology in 2020, as governments and companies turned to tools like contract tracing apps and employee monitoring software. As the year comes to an end, the Thomson Reuters Foundation asked privacy experts around the world what issues will shape the conversation in 2021: MASS SURVEILLANCE - Ella Jakubowska, policy officer, European Digital Rights, Brussels "In 2021, one big challenge for civil society will be protecting fundamental rights in Europe from the threat of mass surveillance. On the one hand, the European Commission is poised…
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Omicron may throw wrench in companies’ plans to return to office

Omicron may throw wrench in companies’ plans to return to office

BEN KLAYMAN COMPANY executives are beginning to consider different permanent work models for their employees as the coronavirus pandemic, and the spread of the Omicron variant, destabilize their latest return-to-office plans. With Omicron so new, companies are struggling to understand how the variant might affect their operations and profits. Most have taken a wait-and-see stance as they weigh how fast the variant may spread and its potential harmfulness, although Alphabet Inc's Google was indefinitely delaying its return-to-office plan around the world. Luxury toilet maker Lixil Corp's chief people officer, Jin Montesano, told the Reuters Next conference this week that the…
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For stranded father, bittersweet reunion as Singapore-Malaysia border reopens

For stranded father, bittersweet reunion as Singapore-Malaysia border reopens

EBRAHIM HARRIS and JOSEPH CAMPBELL BEFORE the coronavirus pandemic, Mohammad Faris Abdullah's daily commute between his home in Malaysia and his job in Singapore took just 30 minutes. But when the countries' border shut without warning in March 2020, the 37-year-old food delivery driver was left stranded and homeless in the city-state. Almost two years later, an easing of restrictions this week finally allowed him to see his family again. "It is like you have been locked up in the prison... then you finally get to see your son and family," said Mohammad Faris, speaking from Singapore before heading to…
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Egypt received 500,000 tourists in January-March 2021

Egypt received 500,000 tourists in January-March 2021

EGYPT received 500,000 tourists in the first three months of 2021 and earned tourism revenues of between $600 million and $800 million, deputy tourism minister Ghada Shalabi told Sky News Arabia yesterday. Tourism revenues plunged 70% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with numbers of visitors sinking to 3.5 million from 13.1 million in 2019.
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Kenya Airways plans more pay cuts

Kenya Airways plans more pay cuts

KENYA Airways plans further pay cuts for employees of as much as 30% after the airline was hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has caused a slump in air travel, an internal memo has shown. The cuts follow those made in March last year following Kenya's first confirmed COVID-19 case, which prompted the government to suspend domestic and international commercial passenger air travel. The latest cuts, of 5% to 30% for workers with monthly earnings exceeding 45,000 shillings ($409), take effect this month and will run for six to 12 months, the company's CEO Allan Kilavuka said in an internal…
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Whose mental health suffered the most during COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria

Whose mental health suffered the most during COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria

THE toll of the coronavirus pandemic on physical health and lives worldwide is enormous. But the disease and the lockdown measures have had an impact on mental health too. DR ABIODUN MUSBAU LAWAL, Lecturer, Department of Psychology , Federal University, Oye Ekiti Some of the mental health issues that have been reported due to COVID-19 include anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, insomnia, post-traumatic disorders, boredom, loneliness and adjustment problems. The phases of COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria spanned between early May 2020 and the end of July 2020. Movement was restricted during this period. Gradually, lockdown was eased but a curfew of…
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Sudanese couple feed struggling migrants

Sudanese couple feed struggling migrants

WHEN a Sudanese couple started a charity to support fellow migrants in Egypt's capital in 2017, the focus was on teaching children and vocational skills for adults. After economic pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic put many out of work, Maysoun Abdelsalam and her husband Moataz Ibrahim pivoted to serving them food. "We felt we were the support for each other, between us refugees. One person brings rice, one brings pasta," said Abdelsalam. The couple, who were working as a journalist and a lawyer, left Sudan because of political pressures and came to Egypt with their three children in 2017…
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Coronavirus pandemic spawns Nigeria banking agent boom

Coronavirus pandemic spawns Nigeria banking agent boom

NNEKA CHILE and ALEXIS AKWAGYIRAM WHEN Lagos imposed a lockdown last year, Nigerian civil servant Ruth Oladimeji saw a way to earn extra money. With people unable to visit banks due to the coronavirus pandemic, she became an agent providing local banking services. Oladimeji signed up with Moniepoint, a mobile money platform on whose behalf she helps customers with services such as opening accounts and withdrawing cash. "It has increased my standard of living. It has helped me be able to support people financially," said the mother-of-two, adding that she previously struggled to pay school fees and support elderly relatives…
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Pandemic treaty idea for future emergencies

Pandemic treaty idea for future emergencies

LEADERS of 23 countries and the World Health Organization yesterday backed an idea to create an international treaty that would help deal with future health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic by tightening rules on sharing information. The idea of such a treaty, also aimed at ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was floated by the chairman of European Union leaders, Charles Michel, at a summit of the Group of 20 major economic powers last November. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has endorsed the proposal, but formal negotiations have not begun, diplomats say. Tedros told…
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