WHO senior emergencies officer Catherine Smallwood noted that while "on an individual level there's probably a decreased risk of hospitalisation" with the Omicron variant compared to Delta, overall, Omicron could pose a greater threat because of the sheer number of cases.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the H-1B visa cap for the financial year 2024 has been reached and all successful applicants have been informed. The USCIS said that only petitioners with selected registrations may file H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year 2024, starting April 1, 2023. The regular cap for the H-1B category is set at 65,000, with 6,800 visas set aside for the US-Chile and US-Singapore free trade agreements.
A man was fatally stabbed in a Starbucks cafe in Vancouver, British Colombia, with an Indo-Canadian arrested for the alleged murder. Police are seeking witnesses to the crime and do not believe the victim and suspect knew each other. The incident has caused shock and criticism of the law and order situation in Vancouver, with filmmaker Aaron Gunn tweeting, ?Things are not getting better. They are still getting worse.?
King Charles is reportedly working with Queen Consort Camilla to bring together a major plan for the royal family after the coronation, which includes cutting back on inefficiencies, reducing the number of working royals and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle being "requested to vacate" Frogmore Cottage. The master plan is said to be about getting the best value for money from those on the payroll and royals who cannot afford to live where they are, should "cut their cloth".
China has provided $240 billion in bailout loans to 22 developing countries, mostly BRI nations, over the past two decades to avoid default and service their debts, a new report by AidData, World Bank, Harvard and Kiel Institute said. Beijing's rescue loans have increased in recent years, with 80% of the total given out since 2016. The loans come with an average interest rate of 5%, higher than the usual 2% rate on IMF loans. Beijing has targeted a limited set of potential recipients, mostly low- and middle-income BRI countries with significant debt to Chinese banks.
China plans to clamp down on malicious online comments damaging the reputation of businesses and entrepreneurs. Shen Yue, an official with the Cyberspace Administration of China, said false information affects the brand image of enterprises and their normal production and operation, resulting in economic losses.
Xi Jinping spoke with Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, discussing topics such as further talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and supporting each other on issues involving their core interests. Xi recently mediated a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties, and said China and Saudi Arabia will work together to promote peace, stability and development in the Middle East.
Pakistan is facing an acute shortage of life-saving medicines due to a controversial pricing policy and depreciating local currency. The country is already in an economic crisis with high external debt and dwindling foreign exchange reserves. The shortage is due to vendors stopping their supplies due to dollar-rupee disparity, with most oral medicines produced locally and majority of biological products imported. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan has imposed a three-year restriction on applying for price adjustment, leading to the importer's inability to supply the medicines.
Russia's defence ministry said its missile ships of the Pacific Fleet fired Moskit cruise missiles at a mock target in the Sea of Japan, hitting it with a direct hit from two missiles. Japan's foreign minister condemned the move and called for Russia and Belarus to stop plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou visits China for the first time since 1949, amid heightened tension as Beijing pressures Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty. Ma praised Sun Yat-sen's contributions and said people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are descendants of the Yan and Yellow Emperors. Ma hopes for peace between both sides and offered to revitalise China, but is not scheduled to meet with any Chinese leaders.
France faces nationwide strikes and protests on Tuesday amid anger over President Macron's plans to delay retirement age. Police fear "Black Bloc" anarchists may cause further violence, with 13,000 police assigned to the rallies. Train and flights will be disrupted, schools closed and energy sector hit, while Macron refuses to withdraw or pause the pension bill.
Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian drones were shot down near Kyiv on Monday, resulting in a fire at a non-residential building. No casualties were reported, with Ukrainian forces destroying 14 of the 15 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the fire was contained, with no casualties. Air raid alerts were declared across half the country's regions but the all clear was given for Kyiv.
Honduras has severed ties with Taiwan and opened formal diplomatic relations with China in a bid for investment and jobs. Taiwan must vacate its embassy in Honduras within 30 days, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Antonio Garcia. The move was criticized by Taiwan's ruling party and leaves Taiwan with only 13 formal allies. The Honduran opposition has pledged to restore ties with Taiwan if it regains power in 2026.
Photographer Arthur Edwards, who has been photographing the royal family for 45 years, shared insights about Prince William and Kate Middleton's three children- Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince Louis. He compared them to their parents, noting George is like William and Louis is like Harry. Edwards also shared his photography tips and praised Kate's skills.
A student in Japan wore Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's iconic olive sweater and khaki trouser combo to his graduation. He had grown a beard to look like the Ukrainian leader and held a sign expressing support for Ukraine. He also held a wooden shamoji, a gift from Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and a placard with a passage from Zelensky's US Congress speech. Zelensky had recently decried Russian presence at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as "radiation blackmail".
Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution to ban caste-based discrimination, making it the first city outside India to do so. The resolution was moved by Indian-American Kshama Sawant, a Socialist Alternative politician, and seeks to ban discrimination in places of public accommodation, such as hotels, public transportation, public restrooms, or retail establishments. California State Senator Aisha Wahab has also introduced a bill to explicitly ban caste discrimination. The law has opened the floodgates for potentially winning such a ban on caste discrimination in other cities and states in the US.