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27日陕北南部、秦巴山区部分地方有分散性降水******

  26日全省大部晴到多云天气为主。全省共计2站日最低气温低于-10 ℃,23站日最低气温低于-5 ℃,全省最低气温出现在吴起站(-11.6℃)。

  受西风槽快速东移影响,27-3月1日,我省部分地方有弱降水,北部有弱降温、吹风天气。27日全省多云转阴天,陕北南部部分地方、秦巴山区部分地方有分散性小雨或雨夹雪。具体气温分布:陕北大部-7~12℃,关中大部、商洛-1~14 ℃,汉中、安康4~16 ℃。

  预计西安27日城区多云,1℃~13℃,其他区县多云间阴天,最高气温10℃~13℃,最低气温-1℃~0℃;28日多云间晴,偏北风3-4级,2℃~16℃;3月1日阴天转多云,1℃~11℃。

  天气趋势:

  2月27日:全省多云转阴天,陕北南部部分地方、秦巴山区部分地方有分散性小雨或雨夹雪。

  2月28日:全省阴天转多云,陕北东部部分地方、陕南部分地方和秦巴山区有小雨或雨夹雪。日平均气温陕北北部下降4℃左右。陕北、关中部分地方有4-5级偏北风,阵风可达6级。

  3月1日:全省多云转晴天,日平均气温陕北黄河沿线、关中东部下降2-4℃。

  华商报记者 毛蜜娜 通讯员 张曦



来源:华商网-华商报

编辑:方正

英国人下午茶文化背后不为人知的故事******

试想一下,真正的英国人在你的眼中是什么模样。无论你的脑海中闪现出什么画面,我相信那人一定有着僵硬的上唇,并且手中端着一杯茶。没错,英国人就是这样,善于不露声色,酷爱饮茶。饮茶已经被彻头彻尾的英国化,成为英国文化中不可或缺的一部分,深刻影响着世界其他国家的人们对英国文化的认识。

The true story behind England’s tea obsession

And while it’s fairly common knowledge that Westerners have China to thank for the original cultivation of the tannic brew, it’s far less known that it was the Portuguese who inspired its popularity in England – in particular, one Portuguese woman.

众所周知,中国是最早开始喝茶的国家,西方人为此深表感激。但是,多亏了葡萄牙人,特别是一位葡萄牙女性,喝茶才得以在英国广泛传播,而这一点却鲜为人知。

Travel back in time to 1662, when Catherine of Braganza (daughter of Portugal’s King John IV) won the hand of England’s newly restored monarch, King Charles II, with the help of a very large dowry that included money, spices, treasures and the lucrative ports of Tangiers and Bombay. This hookup made her one very important lady: the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland.

1662年,布拉干萨王朝(Braganza)的公主凯瑟琳(葡萄牙国王约翰四世之女)嫁给了英国国王查理二世,其嫁妆极其丰厚,包括金银财宝、香料以及经济价值巨大的重要港口丹吉尔和孟买。联姻之后,凯瑟琳成为英格兰、苏格兰与爱尔兰的王后,地位显赫。

When she relocated up north to join King Charles, she is said to have packed loose-leaf tea as part of her personal belongings; it would also have likely been part of her dowry. A fun legend has it that the crates were marked Transporte de Ervas Aromaticas (Transport of Aromatic Herbs) – later abbreviated to T.E.A.

之后,她一路北进与查理国王会合,据说其随身物品中包含一些散装茶叶;也许,这也是其陪嫁物品之一。有趣的是,传说这些茶叶在《芳香植物的运输》(Transporte de Ervas Aromaticas)一书中有所记载,该书后来被简称为“T.E.A.”。

When Catherine arrived in England, tea was being consumed there only as a medicine, supposedly invigorating the body and keeping the spleen free of obstructions. But since the young queen was used to sipping the pick-me-up as part of her daily routine, she no doubt continued her habit, making it popular as a social beverage rather than as a health tonic.

凯瑟琳刚到英国之时,茶叶只是作为一种药品在市场流通,药效是帮助人们振奋精神、理气健脾。但是,这位年轻的王后习惯于每天饮茶,坚持饮茶的习惯。久而久之,茶叶便不再是健康提神药品,发展成为社交饮品,开始在英国盛行。

“When Catherine married Charles, she was the focus of attention – everything from her clothes to her furniture became the source of court talk,” said Sarah-Beth Watkins, author of Catherine of Braganza: Charles II's Restoration Queen. “Her regular drinking of tea encouraged others to drink it. Ladies flocked to copy her and be a part of her circle.”

“与查理国王联姻之后,凯瑟琳迅速成为众人关注的焦点——她的穿着打扮、她使用的家具……所有与她相关的东西都成为王室谈资,”《布拉干萨王朝公主凯瑟琳:查理二世的王后》作者莎拉·贝丝·沃特金斯说。“她的日常饮茶活动引来许多人纷纷效仿。贵妇们纷涌而至,模仿其饮茶习惯以便融入王后的社交圈。”

Hot poet of the time, Edmund Waller, even wrote a birthday ode to her shortly after her arrival, which forever linked the queen and Portugal with the fashionable status of tea in England. He wrote:

“The best of Queens, and best of herbs, we owe

To that bold nation, which the way did show

To the fair region where the sun doth rise,

Whose rich productions we so justly prize.”

凯瑟琳嫁来英国不久,当红诗人埃德蒙德·瓦勒甚至为她写了一首生日颂,将这位来自葡萄牙的王后与英国的饮茶之风永远联系在了一起。诗歌中这样写道:

“最英明的王后,最神奇的植物,

那个勇敢的国家,

阳光沐浴着的美丽之地,

给予我们的丰厚恩赐,

我们讴歌着,

用一颗感恩的心。”

To be fair, tea could be found in England before Catherine arrived, but it wasn’t very popular. “Waller is recorded drinking tea in 1657, which is a whole six years before Catherine turns up,” said Markman Ellis, professor of 18th-Century Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and co-author of Empire of Tea: The Asian Leaf that Conquered the World. “He is a well-known aficionado for tea, which is unusual because it was so expensive and everyone was drinking coffee at this time.”

准确来说,茶叶在凯瑟琳嫁来英国之前已经出现,但是当时并不流行。“据记载,瓦勒于1657年便有饮茶的习惯,这比凯瑟琳的出现早了整整六年,”伦敦玛丽王后大学的教授马克曼·埃利斯说,其致力于18世纪研究,与人合著《茶叶帝国:征服世界的亚洲树叶》。“他是有名的饮茶爱好者,这在当时并不多见,究其原因是茶叶价格昂贵,当时所有人都喝咖啡。”

The reason for the cost was threefold: England had no direct trade with China; tea from India wasn’t around yet; and the small quantities that the Dutch were importing were sold at a very high premium.

茶叶昂贵的原因有三:一是当时英国同中国没有直接的贸易往来;二是印度的茶叶还没有传到英国;三是荷兰人进口的茶叶数量少,所以售价非常高昂。

“It was very expensive because it came from China and it was taxed very heavily,” explained Jane Pettigrew, author of A Social History of Tea, winner of the 2014 World Tea Awards’ Best Tea Educator and director of studies at UK Tea Academy.

“茶叶之所以如此昂贵,是因为从中国进口的关税非常高,”简·佩蒂格鲁说,其著有《茶叶社会史》一书,在2014年世界茶业大奖中被授予最佳茶业教育工作者奖,担任英国茶学院研究主任。

Indeed it was so pricey (a pound went for as much as a working-class citizen made in a year), that, according to Ellis, “it ruled out anyone but the most elite and wealthiest sectors of society. So tea became associated with elite women’s sociability around the royal court, of which Catherine was the most famous emblem.”

实际上,当时茶叶的价格高得惊人(一英镑的价格相当于工薪阶级一年的收入),埃利斯还提道,“除了社会最上层、最富有的人,其他人都不可能负担得起茶叶。因此茶叶成为贵妇与王室结交的手段,通过茶叶与凯瑟琳结交便是最好的例子。”

And what happens with famous people? Non-famous people imitate them. “When the queen does something, everyone wants to follow suit, so very, very gradually by the end of the 17th Century, the aristocracy had started sipping small amounts of tea,” Pettrigrew said.

名人饮茶又有何妨呢?普通人会效仿名人饮茶。“无论王后做什么,其他人都会盲目效仿。于是,到了17世纪末,贵族们自然而然开始少量饮茶,”佩蒂格鲁说。

Of course, the upper class didn’t invent the ritual of tea-drinking themselves – they were imitators too. As Pettigrew recounted, “Until tea arrived with the Dutch, we [the English] didn’t know anything about tea. No sugar spoons, no cups, no tea kettles (only kitchen kettles), so we did what always happens: we copied the entire ritual from China. We imported Chinese tiny porcelain tea bowls, the saucers, the dishes for sugar, the small teapots.”

当然,饮茶仪式并不是上层阶级的发明,也是源于模仿。据佩蒂格鲁所述,“直到荷兰人带来茶叶,我们英国人才对茶叶有所了解。我们没有糖匙,没有茶杯,没有茶壶(只有厨房水壶),所以还是沿用老办法:模仿中国的整套饮茶仪式。我们从中国进口小的瓷茶杯、杯托、糖匙器具以及小茶壶。”

Catherine’s home country had a hand in in popularising this aspect of the tea experience, too. “Portugal was one of the routes [by which] porcelain got to Europe,” Ellis noted. “It was very expensive and very beautiful, and one of the things that made tea drinking attractive was all the pretty stuff that went with it, like having the latest iPhone.”

饮茶瓷器之所以风靡英国,还受到凯瑟琳的母国——葡萄牙的影响。“葡萄牙是瓷器进口到欧洲的路线之一,”埃利斯说道。“瓷器价格昂贵,但非常精致漂亮,饮茶之所以受欢迎的原因之一就是可以使用这些精美的茶具,就像拥有最新款苹果手机一样。”

Since it was so prized, porcelain was probably part of Catherine’s dowry, and, like other aristocratic ladies, she would have accrued many gorgeous trappings to pad out her tea sessions once she was living in England. Pettigrew explained, “She started it as an aristocratic habit in her palaces – very posh, very upper class, and so the ceremony that arrived from China was immediately associated with fine living. As soon as tea arrived, it had very strong connections to feminine women and very big houses, I suppose through Catherine, because the porcelain cost huge amounts of money. The poor had to make due with earthenware. So everything that was expensive had to do with the aristocracy. It’s the same as today: You buy expensive things to show how important you are.”

也许正因为瓷器贵重才能够作为凯瑟琳的嫁妆。像其他的贵妇一样,凯瑟琳开始在英国生活之后,利用这些精美之物增加下午茶的情趣。佩蒂格鲁解释说,“一开始,她只是在王室里饮茶,将其作为一种贵族的习惯,场面奢华,十足的上层阶级做派。因此,饮茶仪式自中国传入之后便迅速与高雅生活密不可分。茶叶一传入英国,便与贵妇、豪宅产生联系,我认为凯瑟琳在这个过程中发挥了重要作用,主要原因是瓷器的价格非常昂贵。穷人只配使用陶器,只有贵族才用得起一切贵重之物。现代社会也是如此:消费的东西越贵,代表你的地位越高。”

Eventually the lower classes transformed tea into a more egalitarian drink, but today, travellers to London can still experience the aristocratic pomp and circumstance at upscale hotels’ afternoon tea services, most notably at the Langham Hotel’s Palm Court in London (which claims to be the birthplace of afternoon tea), the famed Ritz London and Claridge’s.

后来,下层阶级使饮茶变得更加平民化。但在当今社会,伦敦的游客依然可以通过高档酒店提供的下午茶服务体验贵族的奢华,尤其是在伦敦朗廷酒店(Langham Hotel)的廷廊(据称这里是下午茶的诞生地)、赫赫有名的伦敦丽兹酒店(Ritz London)和凯莱奇酒店(Claridge's)。

You can find fancy tea events in Portugal too, but even there, the link to Queen Catherine is not well known. In the historic municipality of Sintra, though, one hotel is trying to change that. At the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais Sintra Hotel, general manager Mario Custódio is about to launch a special afternoon tea themed after Catherine in October. “In school we don’t get this [history],” Custódio said. “I had no idea. Even the Portuguese don’t know this.”

此外,您还可以在葡萄牙体验极其盛大的饮茶仪式。尽管如此,就算在葡萄牙,英国饮茶之风与凯瑟琳王后的渊源也鲜为人知。然而,古镇辛特拉(Sintra)的一个酒店要努力改变这一状况。这就是提弗里瑟特阿斯皇宫酒店(Tivoli Palácio de Seteais Sintra Hotel),酒店总经理马里奥·库斯托迪奥(Mario Custódio)举办以凯瑟琳为主题的下午茶活动。“读书时,我们不了解这段历史,”库斯托迪奥说,“我什么也不清楚,就连其他葡萄牙人对此也一无所知。”

The area of Sintra, spread across lush green mountains about 30 minutes outside Lisbon, is a Unesco World Heritage Site, noted for its concentrated displays of European romantic architecture. The Seteais Palace, built in the 1780s by Dutch consul Daniel Gildemeester, is just one of several ornate, whimsical estate homes that dot the Sintra landscape; wedding-cake follies overlooking intricate, sprawling gardens and parks. Queen Catherine never lived here, but the concentration of old wealth and must-see mansions makes it the perfect place to reflect on what the lives of Portuguese nobility used to be like. You can easily imagine opulently dressed noblewomen gathering in opulently draped drawing rooms, clinking teacups and swapping news and gossip.

辛特拉地区距离里斯本大约30分钟的行程,向外延伸到植被茂盛的山脚下。这里因云集欧洲浪漫主义建筑而闻名,被列入教科文组织世界遗产名录。瑟特阿斯宫(Seteais Palace)由荷兰领事丹尼尔·吉尔德梅斯特(Daniel Gildemeester)于18世纪80年代建成,宫殿装饰奢华、造型独特,成为辛特拉景观中的一道亮丽风景线。婚礼蛋糕式样的怪异装饰物高高耸立于交错蔓生的花园与公园之上。虽然凯瑟琳王后从未居住于此,但这里云集的古老财富、经典的建筑群将葡萄牙贵族过去的生活呈现得淋漓尽致。想象一下,一群衣着华丽的贵妇正在富丽堂皇的会客厅聚会,时不时传来清脆的茶杯撞击声,以及叽叽喳喳的交头接耳声。

For Custódio, bringing these little-known bits of history to life is what makes the travel experience special and personal for visitors. “I’m trying to [present] these things that are very unknown because that is luxury today,” he said.

库斯托迪奥认为,将这些鲜为人知的历史碎片通过现实呈现出来,可以帮助游客获得更独特、更个性化的旅游体验。“我之所以努力将这些不为人知的历史呈现出来,是因为这些是现代社会的财富,”他说。

The daily tea service (open only to hotel guests), will highlight aspects of the Portuguese connection to this genteel tradition. For instance, Custódio is working with a historian to serve the type of tea Catherine would have drank (Ellis thinks it’s most likely a green tea, as no tea came out of India until the 1830s, long after she’d passed away). Marmalade will also be part of the menu, as that’s another part of the Catherine of Braganza mythology that Custódio has stumbled across in his research. The tale goes that, since some of the best oranges in the world come from Portugal, Catherine had them shipped over to her new English home regularly. The ones that didn’t make the journey in top condition were turned into marmalade. Of course, whole oranges were a more prized snack, so if Queen Catherine gave you a gift of marmalade instead of oranges, it meant she didn’t think that much of you.

日常下午茶服务(只对酒店客人开放)能够凸显葡萄牙与高雅饮茶传统之间的渊源。例如,库斯托迪奥正与历史学家合作,希望能够做出凯瑟琳王后当时饮用的茶(埃利斯认为很可能是绿茶,原因是王后死后很长时间,直到19世纪30年代,才有印度来的茶叶引入到英国)。库斯托迪奥还希望能够做出橘子酱,这是因为在研究过程中,他偶然发现橘子酱也是布拉干萨王朝公主凯瑟琳诸多神秘传说之一。据说,世界上最好的橘子有一部分来自于葡萄牙,凯瑟琳王后会定期将这些橘子运往其英国的新家。有些橘子在运输途中品质下降,最后就被做成了橘子酱。若是能享用到完好无损的橘子自然最好,但如果凯瑟琳王后送给您的礼物是橘子酱而不是橘子,那说明她并不是非常看重您呀。

The spread at the Seteais Palace will come with no such judgments. Custódio is simply hoping that by mingling with visitors during the themed tea service and by gifting them with a small book – complete with QR codes for more photos, historical facts and fun stories – he’ll be helping to share some of the culture and colour of his home and reinforce the long-term influence of a little-known transplant queen.

宣传瑟特阿斯宫,当然不是为了对您评头论足。库斯托迪奥的目的很简单,希望为游客提供主题下午茶服务、给游客赠送一本小书。书中印有二维码,扫描二维码可以获取更多图片、历史资料及有趣的故事。他只是想通过这些方式,帮助游客了解自己家乡的文化与美景,发掘远嫁他乡的王后如何对英国饮茶文化产生深远的影响。

“We Portuguese want to believe that Catarina was responsible for the tea. I don’t want this history to die.”

“凯瑟琳王后对茶文化做出了巨大的贡献,我们葡萄牙人不愿意对此视而不见。我希望这段珍贵的历史能够得以延续。”

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第二批来了!十九届中央第六轮巡视整改进展情况发布******

“中央纪委国家监委网站”微信公号10月23日消息,经党中央批准,十九届中央第六轮巡视对17个省区市和新疆生产建设兵团,以及14个中央和国家机关单位党组织开展常规巡视。

从10月22日起,中央纪委国家监委网站陆续公布十九届中央第六轮巡视整改进展情况。今天公布第二批4家被巡视单位党组织整改进展情况,部分内容如下:

内蒙古自治区党委:深化重点领域腐败问题治理

一是深化煤炭资源领域违规违法问题专项整治。以坚定坚决的态度、有力有效的举措,扎实推进煤炭资源领域违规违法问题深化治理各项工作,在解决一批重大问题、查办一批重大案件、挽回一批国有资产损失、堵塞一批制度漏洞方面取得新进展新成效。深化矿产资源领域腐败问题治理。严格落实《公职人员涉企事项登记报告办法》,组织各级干部填报涉企事项,对不符合规定的依纪依法处理。

二是深化政法领域腐败问题治理。扎实开展政法队伍教育整顿,聚焦清除害群之马,整治顽瘴痼疾,推动政法机关以刀刃向内的精神抓好查纠整改。全面排查整治执法司法不公不严行为,组织开展防止干预司法“三个规定”落实不到位问题专项整治,持续推进扫黑除恶“打伞破网”行动,深入开展“减假暂”专项整治。推进旗县级公检法领导班子调整,加大干部交流力度。出台《自治区党委政法委员会执法监督工作细则》,进一步加强执法监督工作,促进政法干警严格规范公正廉洁文明执法。

三是深化金融领域腐败治理。加大对区内金融领域腐败问题线索查处力度,推动以案促改。制定《内蒙古银行业清廉金融文化建设公约》,推动构建清廉文化。

四是深化国企、教育领域腐败问题治理。加大腐败案件查处力度,加强区直企业领导班子建设,制定《关于自治区直属国有企业在完善公司治理中加强党的领导的制度措施》,健全企业党委议事决策机制,24家区直企业集团层面及所属315家全资、国有控股企业已全部建立党委议事规则。加强考核监督,根据区直企业年度考核和任期考核情况,综合分析班子成员任期表现,对表现较差的部分企业领导班子成员进行调整,对评定为“一般”等次的企业主要负责人进行约谈。加强高校领导班子建设,30所高职院校党委副书记、纪委书记全部实行分设,进一步增强了高校党建和纪检工作力量。召开教育系统全面从严治党工作会议、警示教育会议,完成全区49所公办高校党委会、校长办公会议事规则修订工作。

全国政协机关党组:坚决反对形式主义、官僚主义

一是进一步规范视察考察调研,提高活动实效。制定年度视察考察调研计划时,对时间地点、团组规模、地区分布等进行统筹协调;综合运用视频调研、网络调研、委托调研等多种方式,持续改进视察考察调研工作;强化质量导向,对视察考察调研开展专项督查;认真执行调研组组长负责制,明确调研报告须经调研组会议讨论审议,办公厅加强调研报告的审核把关;除党外委员专题视察团外,所有调研活动均设立临时党支部,坚决落实相关纪律作风要求。

二是进一步完善密切联系机关干部群众机制。制定出台《全国政协机关党组成员密切联系机关干部职工工作办法》,建立机关干部职工思想动态年度分析报告制度,通过谈心谈话、问卷调查等方式把握机关干部职工思想状况;认真落实委员活动日机关领导班子成员接待机关干部职工来访制度,定期召开工会系统、团员青年座谈会,广泛听取机关干部职工意见建议;扎实开展走访慰问“送温暖”活动,将关心关爱干部职工做细做实。

三是持续严格执行中央八项规定及其实施细则精神,认真贯彻落实习近平总书记关于厉行节约、反对浪费特别是制止餐饮浪费行为的重要批示精神,紧盯重要节点、重大活动、重要环节,提醒预警,强化监督。

农业农村部党组:坚决扛稳国家粮食安全重任

落实粮食安全党政同责要求,实施“藏粮于地、藏粮于技”战略,构建“辅之以义、辅之以利”机制,划定并建设粮食生产功能区、重要农产品保护区、特色农产品优势区,推进国家粮食安全产业带建设,开展全国耕地种粮情况监测评价,建立耕地“非粮化”情况通报机制,推进粮食生产全程机械化,提高粮食综合生产能力,开展粮食主产区利益补偿机制专题研究,推进健全完善稳定粮食生产的长效机制,确保粮食产量稳定在1.3万亿斤以上。全力抓好2021年粮食生产,向各省(自治区、直辖市)下达粮食生产目标,召开全国春季田管暨春耕备耕工作视频会议和全国春季农业生产工作电视电话会议,开展粮食稳产增产“五大行动”,强化病虫害预报和防控技术指导。会同财政部印发文件,出台支持粮食生产的一揽子政策,推动提高稻谷、小麦最低收购价,稳定实施并完善玉米、大豆生产者补贴,切实提升补贴的精准性、指向性,增加产粮大县奖励资金规模,进一步调动地方政府抓粮和农民种粮的积极性。

中国农业科学院党组:推进“放管服”改革

一是积极推进“松绑减负”行动,进一步减轻科研人员负担。坚持能放尽放,组织科技、人事、财务、后勤等部门协同联动,对标中央关于科研“放管服”改革的部署要求,通过问卷、座谈等多种形式,深入开展调研,形成专题建议报告。精简会议数量,2021年院本级会议计划继续压减,全院性重要会议通过视频方式或视频与现场相结合的方式,直接开到基层,避免层层开会。结合相关部门管理职责,初步建立了院机关“权责清单”,结合研究所及科研人员反映的问题,研究谋划“诉求清单”,谋划“放管服”改革“赋权清单”,以三个清单为基础稳步推进“松绑减负”行动。

二是加强下放权力的事前指导和事后监督,推进相关政策措施落实落细。推动信息化管理,设专人专岗提升信息化办公系统运转效率,提出财务信息化实施路线建议,启动院所运行监测系统建设。推进全成本核算改革试点,组织试点所总结分析政府购买服务经费管理与成本核算情况。强化放管结合,加强政策宣贯,组织开展知识产权与成果转化、人才引进与职称评审,因私出国(境)管理政策等宣讲会,推动新政策、新举措有效落地实施,营造潜心科研的创新环境。

(以上内容节选自被巡视单位党组织巡视整改进展情况通报)



来源:“中央纪委国家监委网站”微信公号

编辑:唐港

Omicron in Europe before South Africa reported first cases******

AFP

Travelers from South Africa are tested for the coronavirus on arrival in a specially designed test street at Schiphol airport, on November 30, 2021. Dutch health authorities said on November 30 that the new COVID-19 variant was already present in the Netherlands a week before a cluster of cases on two flights from South Africa. The Omicron cases were discovered on November 19 and 23 and authorities are checking whether they had links to southern Africa, and how far the new strain has spread.

The Omicron coronavirus variant was present in Europe before the first cases were reported in South Africa, new data from the Netherlands showed Tuesday, as Latin America reported its first two cases in Brazil.

In the week since the new virus strain was reported to the World Health Organization by South Africa, dozens of countries around the world have responded with travel restrictions – most targeting southern African nations.

But the World Health Organization warned Tuesday – as Canada expanded its restrictions to also include Egypt and Nigeria – that "blanket" travel bans risked doing more harm than good.

And the likely futility of broad travel restrictions was underscored as Dutch authorities reported that Omicron was present in the country before South Africa officially reported its first cases, on November 25.

The new variant – whose high number of mutations the WHO believes may make it more transmissible or resistant to vaccines – was found in two Dutch test samples from November 19 and 23, with one having no travel history.

With countries now on alert for the Omicron variant, a clearer picture is emerging by the day of where it has been circulating, and for how long.

So far, well over a dozen countries and territories have detected cases, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Israel, Italy and Portugal.

Among European countries, Belgium and Germany have both reported cases of the new strain prior to November 25, but both linked to foreign travel.

Latin America reported its first two cases Tuesday – in people who traveled from South Africa to Brazil – and a first case was confirmed in Japan, one day after it barred all foreign arrivals.

Vaccine-resistant?

While much is still unknown about the Omicron variant – it could take weeks to determine whether and to what extent it is vaccine-resistant – it has highlighted that the global fight against COVID-19 is far from over.

Asian, European and US markets all fell on Tuesday, while the benchmark US oil price tumbled more than five percent after the boss of vaccine manufacturer Moderna warned existing jabs might be less effective against the new variant.

"All the scientists I've talked to ... are like 'this is not going to be good'," Moderna boss Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times, warning against a "material drop" in the effectiveness of current jabs against Omicron.

Moderna, US drugmaker Pfizer and the backers of Russian vaccine Sputnik V are already working on an Omicron-specific vaccine.

On the treatment front, meanwhile, a panel of US health experts voted Tuesday to endorse Merck's COVID pill for high-risk adult patients, which is already authorised in Britain.

'Heavy burden'

In a briefing to WHO member states, the body's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was understandable for countries to seek to protect their citizens "against a variant we don't yet fully understand."

But he called for the global response to be "calm, coordinated and coherent", urging nations to "take rational, proportional risk-reduction measures."

The UN agency cautioned in a travel advisery that "blanket" travel bans risked placing a "heavy burden on lives and livelihoods" and could ultimately dissuade countries from sharing data about the evolving virus – as South Africa did in reporting the latest variant.

But it did advise that people not fully vaccinated and considered vulnerable to COVID-19, including over-60s, should put off travel to areas with community transmission of the virus – after correcting a previous statement that indicated all over-60s should defer travel.

Tougher measures

Omicron has emerged as much of the world was already bracing for a new winter wave of the pandemic – leaving even nations with high vaccination rates scrambling to stem infections and prevent health services from being overwhelmed.

Governments, particularly in western Europe, have already reintroduced mandatory mask-wearing, social-distancing measures, curfews or lockdowns – leaving businesses fearing another grim Christmas.

In Germany, incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz said parliament would vote on making COVID vaccines compulsory by the end of the year – and a source from Scholz's party told AFP he had "signalled his sympathy" for such a rule.

Greece went ahead Tuesday in making vaccines compulsory for over-60s, while Norway will offer booster shots to all adults before Easter, as preferable to a lockdown.

Britain meanwhile set a target of delivering third jabs to all adults within two months, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying vaccination centers would be "popping up like Christmas trees."

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