Winds of change
New lockdown in the Netherlands
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, which has only been discovered in November 2021, is motivating countries across the globe to tighten Covid restrictions. According to the WHO, the Omicron variant has so far been detected in 89 countries. A lot about the new variant is still unknown to us, notably it’s reaction to the existing vaccines and the gravity of the illness it causes. In response to the rise of infections, several European countries have implemented harder travel restrictions. Yesterday, the Netherlands announced a new lockdown, hoping to reduce the Covid infections with the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Until 14 January 2022, non-essential stores, hospitality venues, inside sport facilities and locations such as cinemas and museums will remain closed. Schools and universities will close until 9 January. Large family reunions are hindered during the upcoming holidays, as a maximum number of 4 visitors has been announced. To everyone reading this, please stay safe!
Super typhoon in the Philippines
At the end of the week, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2021 has caused enormous damage and the loss of many lives. Typhoon Rai has been categorized as a super typhoon, with a peak sustained wind speed of 195 km/h. According to some of the locals, it might have been the most destructive typhoon to hit the Philippines in the last few decades. While usually the typhoon season lasts from July to October, Rai has developed very late. Scientists have been issuing warnings regarding increasingly devastating natural phenomena such as typhoons for a long time. Regarding the climate crisis, the Philippines have been ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. Especially sea level rise and stronger storms are threatening the island nation.
A formal end to the Korean War?
There is new hope for talks between North and South Korea to formally declare an end to the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. The Korean War ended in an armistice, but not a peace treaty, meaning that, technically, the two countries are still at war. During Monday’s press conference, the South-Korean president Moon Jae-in announced that North and South Korea, the US and China “agree in principle” to a formal declaration of the end of the Korean War. However, North Korea will not join negotiations until the US drop their “hostility” towards the country, a reference to the US military presence in South Korea. Furthermore, there are doubts about the potential peace treaty in both the US and South Korea regarding the ongoing development of nuclear weapons in North Korea. Supporters of the project believe that a peace treaty with North Korea will improve the tense relationship between the two Korean countries and hope that it will encourage new negotiations. South Korea’s president Moon is known for desiring peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. But whether there will be talks initiating a formal end to the Korean War remains to be seen.