With a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic, virtual reality is becoming a substitute for travel. Do-it-yourself tests will be available in Switzerland after Easter. Part of Kenya and the Philippines are re-fining.
■ The UDC opts for the freedom to vote on the Covid-19 law
At the SVP’s assembly of delegates, held online this Saturday, members decided to opt for the freedom to vote on the Covid-19 law on June 13, by 80 yes, 64 no and 19 abstentions. Party president Marco Chiesa advocated this option, arguing that the law is “overloaded” and addresses unrelated themes such as “economic aid and the delegation of broad decision-making powers to the Federal Council”. But it is also the basis of economic aid to people in difficulty, which the SVP wishes to see compensated.
■ 200 people demonstrate in Sion
In the Valais capital, demonstrators expressed their disagreement against the health measures. The rally was authorized and proceeded peacefully, police said. Some 200 people gathered at 2:00 p.m. on the Place de la Planta and then set off, as planned, in a procession to the Grand-Pont area.
■ The despair of the actors in Avignon
Vikings, knights, pirates or serfs: some 400 people, enthusiasts or professionals of historical reenactments, marched through the streets of Avignon on Saturday to alert on the difficulties encountered by the sector.
“Let’s go kick the English variant out of France”, “Sire! We have big! ”,“ Witches, I’m supposed to die at the stake, not starve ”,“ Living history is us, don’t let us starve ”,“ Culture is not limited not at the opera ”: on their placards, the demonstrators displayed their dismay and their concerns in the streets of downtown Avignon, noted AFP journalists.
“Many associations are breaking down, people who lived thanks to these events are dying, we cannot accept that. In the historical reconstruction, we never do a demonstration like that but there we launch a cry of distress “, explained to AFP Patrick Duval, municipal councilor of Morières-lès-Avignon and organizer of the medieval festival of the Rose d ‘ Gold.
“They are all in agony, they are dying. The troops are in the process of dissolving completely because they can no longer offer their members outings or parties, the small craftsmen who follow us on all our medieval festivals, on all the markets are literally in agony, they are closing down one after the other and things are going very badly because they no longer have the right to anything, the intermittents of the show have been promised a blank year but there are a lot of them who do not fit in the boxes, ”he lamented.
■ Worrying increase in cases in Yemen
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) sounded the alarm on Saturday in the face of “a very strong influx” of serious cases of Covid-19 in Yemen, a poor country in the Arabian Peninsula where war has ravaged health infrastructure.
“The sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks is extremely alarming and worrying,” also said Raphael Veicht, MSF head of mission in Yemen, quoted in a statement. He called on humanitarian organizations to “rapidly step up their emergency response” and greater support from international donors.
Yemen’s capacity to treat people in intensive care is “limited”, due to a health system that collapsed with the war ravaging the country. A conflict for more than six years has opposed the government, supported by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, to the Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, and plunged Yemen into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world according to the UN.
■ Spain to demand negative PCR test at French border
Spanish authorities announced on Saturday that a negative PCR test of less than 72 hours would now be required for anyone wishing to cross the French land border to travel to Spain.
The measure, which will take effect on Tuesday, comes as Spain steps up restrictions in hopes of avoiding an increase in cases of Covid-19 contamination during Holy Week, which begins this weekend.
It is the first time that such a requirement has been imposed on those crossing the land border between the two countries. Until now, this had only been required for arrivals by air.
Favorite destination in the middle of Covid with its bars open and its curfew at 11:00 p.m., Madrid has become a refuge for European tourists, especially French, while its inhabitants are prohibited from leaving the region.
This difference in treatment exasperates the Spaniards, even more with the approach of Holy Week, an extremely popular holiday in the country and when people are used to traveling to meet up with their families.
■ Philippines: Manila re-confined
New containment is expected next week for more than 24 million people in and around Manila, as hospitals in the capital struggle to absorb a surge in infections.
These reinforced restrictions are imposed on the economic heart of the country – which concentrates a fifth of the population – while more contagious variants fuel an upsurge in cases.
From Monday, the affected population will have to work from home, with the exception of essential workers, and public transport will be suspended. All important gatherings will be banned, a 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew will be put in place and non-essential businesses will be closed.
■ Alain Berset promises to do it yourself tests from April 7
In Switzerland, do-it-yourself tests to detect possible coronavirus contamination will be available in pharmacies after Easter. Federal Councilor Alain Berset made this statement on the Rundschau program on the German channel SRF on Saturday.
The Minister of Health clarified that “good quantities” will be available from April 7. After that, it will be possible to receive these tests faster and faster.
There are always shortages in a pandemic. That’s why it takes a little while for everything to work properly, he continued. But that will be the case very quickly, unfortunately not before Easter. “However, we are a week ahead of schedule.”
■ Record mortality in Kenya
Regularly set up as a model of the fight against the pandemic in Africa, Kenya has been facing a powerful third wave of coronavirus since early March. Recent warnings from the authorities and the extension of the curfew announced on March 12 were not enough.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced the isolation “until further notice” of five counties, including the capital Nairobi, after giving disturbing figures: test positivity rate multiplied by ten since January (from 2% to more than 20%), mortality dropping from three deaths per day in January-February to seven in March, 20 people in intensive care in January against 950 since March 12.
This third wave appears more devastating than the first two: on March 19, the country recorded its highest number of deaths in one day (28) since the start of the pandemic. As of March 26, 128,178 cases of Covid-19 had been identified, for 2,098 deaths.
■ Travel through virtual reality
The restrictions imposed by Covid-19 are generating growing interest in virtual reality dives thanks to new applications, and the headset or console necessary for their operation.
Data on virtual reality travel usage is still limited, but their developers assure demand is exploding, like Cezara Windrem, creator of the Alcove VR platform at AARP Innovation Labs.
With a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic, virtual reality has become both a substitute for real-world travel and a complement for planning future trips. Everything is possible: a trip to Machu Picchu (Peru), in the tropical forests of Borneo, a “road trip” through the United States at the wheel of a convertible, a visit to the pyramids of Egypt then the Taj Mahal or the discovery of Antarctica by kayak.
Before the pandemic, virtual and augmented reality had started to appeal to tour operators and tourist offices, who saw it as a way to give a taste of the stays on offer. For customers, it’s a way to polish their trip, according to a report by research firm GlobalData.
■ HR teams “ultra-solicited” for a year
Health rules, massive teleworking, short-time working, remote negotiations … The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the “key role” but sometimes unrecognized of human resources (HR) teams and departments in companies or the public service .
Often discredited for their role in the implementation of restructuring and job cuts, HR teams have been “called upon non-stop for a year and have had to take into account people in all their dimensions”, notes Christophe Nguyen, specialist in prevention of psychosocial risks (burn-out, depression, suicides, etc.) in Paris.
“The HR profession is tired today,” confirms Audrey Richard, president of the National Association of Human Resources Directors (ANDRH) in France. “Since the start of this health crisis, the HRD is really on the front line. Everything comes to him head-on with the responsibility to go very, very fast “, but” it allows us to show other facets of our profession, in particular that we take care of the employees “, she notes.
In 2020, the National Association of HRDs in France noted a “50% increase in calls” to its support telephone line compared to 2019, according to its president. HR teams are faced with “a quadruple crisis: health, economic, social, psychological”, she sums up.