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Kenya’s Jepkosgei, Ethiopia’s Lemma triumph at London Marathon

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Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei won the women’s London Marathon on Sunday as Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma triumphed in the men’s race in the first full-scale staging of the event since the coronavirus pandemic.

Brigid Kosgei, aiming to become the first woman to win three consecutive London Marathon titles since Germany’s Katrin Doerre in 1994, came fourth.

Jepkosgei won in a personal-best time of 2hr 17min 43sec. Ethiopia’s Degitu Azimeraw finished second in 2:17.58 and compatriot Ashete Bekere was third in 2:18.18.

Lemma failed to finish the Olympic marathon in Japan in August but bounced back to win in the British capital in 2:04.01.

Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba was runner-up for the second year running in 2:04.28 and Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew came third with a time of 2:04.41.

The London Marathon returned to normality for the first time since 2019 after being held without amateur runners or spectators last year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The pandemic forced the event to be moved from April to October in 2020, with a small number of elite runners completing laps around St James’s Park.

But this year more than 40,000 amateur runners joined the elite athletes in covering the traditional 26.2-mile course from Blackheath, southeast London, to The Mall that leads to Buckingham Palace.

Another 40,000 runners competed virtually as the race got under way to cheers and applause from returning spectators, with mass participants’ start times staggered to avoid large gatherings.

The elite women set a ferocious early pace, completing the first 10 miles in 52min 10sec.

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, Kosgei, Jepkosgei, Bekere and Azimeraw formed a breakaway group after half-way.

Reigning New York Marathon champion Jepkosgei broke away after 1hr 55min, establishing an insurmountable lead with a few miles to go.

It is the first time five women have completed the London Marathon in under 2hr 19min.

The men’s pack was touted as arguably the strongest in history despite the absence of Kenyan four-time London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge, with six runners holding best times of under 2h 05min.

Defending champion Shura Kitata of Ethiopia, who failed to finish the Olympic marathon in Sapporo and entered the race carrying a hamstring injury, faded quickly.

The runners passed half-way in 1:01.25 –12 seconds faster than Kipchoge’s split when he set the men’s London Marathon record of 2:02.37 in 2019.

A five-strong pack featuring Kenyans Evans Chebet and Kipchumba and Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese, Lemma and Geremew broke away as the race progressed.

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COVOD-19

U.S. issues ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory for eight African countries

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department on Saturday advised against travel to eight southern African countries after the White House announced new travel restrictions in response to a new COVID-19 variant.

The CDC raised its travel recommendation to “Level Four: Very High” for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana while the State Department issued parallel “Do Not Travel” advisories Saturday. On Monday, the CDC had lowered its COVID-19 travel advisory for South Africa to “Level 1: Low” from “Level 3: High”

Of the eight countries, only Botswana was previously listed as “Level 4.”

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is potentially more contagious than previous variants of the disease, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains. It could take weeks for scientists to fully understand the variant’s mutations and whether existing vaccines and treatments are effective against it.

The discovery of the variant has sparked global concern, a wave of travel bans or curbs and a sell-off on financial markets on Friday as investors worried that Omicron could stall a global recovery from the nearly two-year pandemic.

The new variant prompted the White House to announce Friday it would bar nearly all foreign nationals who have been in any of eight countries within the last 14 days from flying to the United States effective Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET (0500 GMT). Travelers on flights that depart before that time will be allowed to land in the United States. But foreign nationals must be vaccinated and have tested negative within three days.

Britain detected two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday, even as Australia and other countries joined nations imposing restrictions on travel from southern Africa in an effort to stop its spread.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa and had also since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.

A U.S. official told Reuters Friday the Biden administration could also add other countries to the travel curb list if the variant spreads. The United States only lifted travel restrictions on South Africa and 32 other countries on Nov. 8.

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COVOD-19

New York Declares State Of Emergency To Hike Hospital Capacity Ahead Of Omicron Variant

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Friday declared a state of emergency aimed at increasing hospital capacity and addressing medical staffing shortages as the nation braces for the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The new protocols will take effect Dec. 3 and the order will remain in place at least until Jan. 15, when it will be reassessed.

The emergency declaration will allow the state Department of Health to limit nonessential and nonurgent hospital procedures in situations where a hospital has less than 10% staffed bed capacity.

The order will also expand state purchasing capability to obtain emergency medical supplies.

“We’ve taken extraordinary action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic. However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it’s coming,” Hochul said.

“In preparation, I am announcing urgent steps today to expand hospital capacity and help ensure our hospital systems can tackle any challenges posed by the pandemic as we head into the winter months,” the governor said.

“The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic. I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated, and get the booster if you’re fully vaccinated,” she added.

President Joe Biden announced Friday that travel to the U.S. from South Africa and seven other countries in the region would be restricted beginning Monday.

The World Health Organization announced Friday that the highly transmissible omicron variant has a “large number of mutations,” including some that are “concerning.”

It has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, Israel and Hong Kong. The first European case has been identified in Belgium.

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Health

Doctor Suspended by Houston Methodist for Spreading COVID Misinformation Resigns

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Houston-based doctor on Monday resigned her privileges at Houston Methodist Hospital after the hospital temporarily suspended her for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Dr. Mary Talley Bowden, an ear, nose and throat specialist in private practice, was granted provisional privileges at the Texas Medical Center hospital within the last year. She had never admitted a patient before Friday, when the hospital temporarily pulled those privileges for unprofessional behavior, including spreading “dangerous misinformation” about COVID-19 and using vulgar language on social media, the hospital said.

Bowden’s resignation comes days after Houston Methodist suspended the doctor’s hospital privileges and accused her of “using her social media accounts to express her personal and political opinions about the COVID-19 vaccine and treatments.”

Bowden claims she has treated more than 2,000 patients with COVID-19 and has been outspoken on social media recently about vaccine mandates and treatments.

Through a public release, here is how Bowden responded:   

“I do not want to be part of an institution that treats its doctors the way they do,” said Bowden. “They have tried to paint me as dangerous simply because my views may be different than theirs about the efficacy of vaccines and possible treatment decisions. That is what is dangerous. I want the best for my patients. I do not believe the vaccine is a one size fits all solution, nor do I believe unvaccinated Houstonians should be treated by medical doctors as second-class citizens, but to the government and Methodist Hospital it’s one size fits all no matter what. If you voice any concerns then you are attacked, you are bullied. If you don’t follow government orders, you are the one they now call dangerous. That’s China. That’s not America. I don’t feel like we are in America when we start attacking doctors who are simply trying to look out for what they believe is in the best interest of their patients. We are treating unvaccinated people like they don’t deserve our help. Every day we are still learning about COVID and these vaccines. I will not be silenced for giving my advice. I took an oath.”

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