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World's five emerging economies seeks to speed up Covid


Five of the world´s biggest emerging economies Tuesday called for the development and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines to be sped up, reiterating that measures such as waiving intellectual property rights over jabs could help poorer nations battle the pandemic.

The joint statement by the so-called “BRICS” group — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — followed an online summit chaired by India´s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

The foreign ministers said “extensive immunisation” would help bring the pandemic to an end, highlighting the “urgency for expeditious development and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines, especially in developing countries”.

They also expressed support for the global campaign led by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organization to temporarily waive IP rights for Covid-19 vaccines.

Sharing vaccine doses, technology transfers, developing local production and supply chains as well as price transparency would also boost the fight against infectious disease, the statement added.

South Africa´s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor earlier Tuesday reiterated Pretoria´s position that “none of us are safe until all of us are safe”.

Securing a waiver agreement “will allow use of intellectual property, the sharing of technologies and technology transfer,” Pandor told the BRICS meeting, enabling “the production of vaccine therapeutics and wider distribution”.

Supporters of the move argue it will spur production of low-cost generic vaccines, helping poor countries that are struggling to immunise their people.

The US under President Joe Biden has thrown its weight behind the bid alongside China, but other pharmaceutical heavyweights including the EU, Britain and Japan are reluctant.

Opponents argue waiving patents will damage intellectual property rights and erode the profit incentive, ultimately affecting pharmaceutical research and development.

Pharmaceutical companies also point out that manufacturing a vaccine requires know-how and technical resources which cannot be acquired at the flip of a switch.

Pandor, speaking by video link from Pretoria, said “millions of people in wealthier nations have been vaccinated, while billions of people in poorer countries still wait and are still vulnerable to infection, disease and death”.

Just two percent of global vaccines have been administered in sub-Saharan Africa, according to WHO figures — a situation that Pandor described as a “global gap of vaccine access”.

Sixty-three countries have backed the Indian-South African proposal, but unanimity among all 164 WTO member states is needed for agreement.


Latest developments about coronavirus pandemic around the globe

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Here are latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

– Jabs for adolescents –

US biotech firm Moderna says that trials have shown its Covid-19 vaccine is “highly effective” in adolescents aged 12-17 and it will seek regulators´ approval in June.

– Half US adults jabbed –

Half of all US adults will have received full Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday, the White House says.

President Joe Biden has set a target of having 70 percent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4. The current figure is almost 62 percent.

– Few ´breakthrough´ cases –

About 0.01 percent of people who have been fully vaccinated became infected with Covid-19 between January and April, a US government study confirming the shots´ high efficacy shows.

– Origin probe call –

The United States leads calls at the World Health Organization for a more in-depth probe of the pandemic origins, after an international mission to China earlier this year proved inconclusive.

– Olympics still going ahead –

A new US travel warning for Japan over virus risks will not affect this summer´s pandemic-postponed Olympic Games, the Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 organisers say.

– EU travel pass –

EU leaders back a Covid pass that they hope will unlock tourist travel in July with half of the bloc´s inhabitants soon to have at least one vaccine shot.

– Returned vaccines –

South Sudan will return 72,000 doses of donated Covid-19 vaccines after concluding it cannot administer them before they expire, a health ministry official says.

– 3.4 million dead –

The pandemic has killed at least 3,475,079 people worldwide since the virus first emerged in December 2019, according to an AFP compilation of official data.

The US is the worst-affected country with 590,574 deaths, followed by Brazil with 449,858, India with 307,231, Mexico with 221,695 and Britain with 127,724.

The figures are based on reports by the health authorities in each country, but do not take into account upward revisions carried out later by statistical bodies.

The World Health Organization says up to three times more people have died directly or indirectly due to the pandemic than official figures suggest

Ford focuses on fully electric vehicles

Ford once again is ramping up investment in zero-emission cars and expects 40 percent of volume by 2030 to be comprised of fully electric vehicles, the company announced Wednesday.

The US automaker said it will increase investment in electric vehicles, components and infrastructure to more than $30 billion by 2025, boosting the amount from the $22 billion target set in February.

The company last week unveiled an all-electric version of its bestselling F-150 truck in an eco-friendly reinvention of a flagship American car brand, and said it has received 70,000 reservations from customers in just one week.

“This is our biggest opportunity for growth and value creation since Henry Ford started to scale the Model T, and we´re grabbing it with both hands,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a statement.

Farley and other executives presented the plans in a virtual meeting with financial analysts and other stakeholders.

Besides the battery-powered F-150, called the Lightning, Ford has begun selling the electric Mustang Mach-E sport utility vehicle and will soon bring the E-Transit cargo van to showrooms.

The company also is investing in producing its own batteries, and recently announced a joint venture with South Korea´s SK Innovation.

Farley said the goal is to reduce the cost of batteries by 40 percent by 2025.

Manufacturers have joined the growing move towards zero-emission vehicles to help address global warming.

Ford´s main rival General Motors pledged in January to stop making diesel- or gasoline-powered cars by 2035.

German automaker Volkswagen also intends to offer 70 electric models by 2030 and sell 26 million units in 10 years.

Industry analyst Karl Brauer of used car site iSeeCars, said Ford´s target “represents a safe balance of aspiration and reality, particularly for a company so heavily reliant on trucks and SUVs.”

While other automakers are pledging higher numbers, “none of them have relied on trucks and SUVs sales as heavily as Ford.”

– Tesla at the top –

Elon Musk´s Tesla remains the dominant force in the electric car market, with a valuation of $580 billion compared to Ford´s $51 billion.

But with growing public interest for emissions-free vehicles, new entrants have joined the market including start-ups Rivian and Lucid.

However, electric cars still only accounted for 2.5 percent of all US sales in the first quarter, according to the specialist firm Cox.

US President Joe Biden has made the development of electric cars a priority.

His plan for massive investments in infrastructure currently under discussion provides several incentives, including the construction of a national network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030 and the conversion of 20 percent of school busses to run off electricity.

Ford also is taking on Tesla, setting a goal of “having about one million vehicles that are capable of receiving over-the-air system updates on the road by the end of this year, exceeding Tesla´s volume by July 2022.”

Among the initiatives presented Wednesday as part of the “Ford+” plan to boost growth, the company also announced creation of Ford Pro, a global vehicle services and distribution business devoted to commercial and government customers.

The company also has teamed up with Google to employ its cloud computing platform and also will employ Amazon´s voice program and other services from Apple and Microsoft.

Ford shares gained 8.5 percent

US to transfer Bagram Air Base to Afghan forces in 20 days, says official

Bagram Airbase. Photo: Tolo News

KABUL:  An Afghan official said on Tuesday that the US will hand over its main Bagram Air Base to Afghanistan’s military in about 20 days, as Washington moves ahead with withdrawal  of its troops from the country.

The vast base, built by the Soviets in the 1980s, is the biggest military facility used by US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, with tens of thousands of troops stationed there during the peak of America’s military involvement in the violence-wracked country.

“I can confirm we will hand over Bagram Air Base,” a US defence official told AFP without specifying when the transfer would take place.

An Afghan security official said the handover was expected in about 20 days and the defence ministry had set up special committees to manage it.

In Washington, the Pentagon indicated that the pace of the withdrawal was picking up. As of Monday, US Central Command estimated it had completed 30-44 percent of the so-called “retrograde” process.

It has shipped the equivalent of 300 loaded C-17 transport planes out of the country.

In April, President Joe Biden set a target of September to remove all the 2,500 US troops and some 16,000 civilian contractors out of the country, aiming to end the US military´s two-decade-old presence.

Handing over bases

Bagram base was the centre for nationwide command and air operations for the past two decades.

It also houses a prison that held thousands of Taliban and militant inmates over the years.

Washington had already handed over six military bases to Afghan forces before May 1, when it began accelerating the final withdrawal of troops.

Last month it completed the withdrawal from Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan, once the second-largest foreign military base in the country.

The US withdrawal comes despite bloody clashes across the country between the Taliban and Afghan forces.

Peace talks were launched in September in Qatar, but so far have failed to strike any deal to end a war that has killed tens of thousands of people over nearly two decades.

On Tuesday, a group of Afghan government negotiators was headed to Doha in the hope of resuming stalled talks.

“Our team is ready for serious negotiations. There is no military solution to this conflict,” Najia Anwari, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Peace, told AFP, adding that no date had been fixed for resuming the talks.

Fawzia Koofi, one of four women negotiators from the government team, said on Twitter that she hoped for a “meaningful and result based negotiation this time to end the bloodshed and suffering of my people”.

“We need to see more willingness and sincerity in the talks as the few months ahead of us are crucial for Afghanistan and the region.”

Last month the two sides had agreed to speed up the talks, with the Taliban saying the dialogue would begin after the festival of Eid al-Fitr that ended on May 16.

Israel’s Natanyahu may be unseated as prime minister

Israeli nationalist hardliner Naftali Bennett said Sunday he would join a potential coalition government that could end the rule of the country’s longest-serving leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 Lawmakers opposed to right-wing Netanyahu have been in intense talks ahead of a Wednesday deadline, as a ceasefire held following the latest deadly military conflict in the Gaza Strip.

 Netanyahu, 71, who faces trial on fraud, bribery, and breach of trust charges, which he denies, has clung to power throughout a period of the political turmoil that has seen four inconclusive elections in under two years.

 A March vote saw Netanyahu’s Likud party gain the most seats but he again failed to form a government.

 Opposition leader and former TV anchor Yair Lapid now has until Wednesday evening to build a rival coalition.

 Lapid, 57, is seeking a diverse alliance with the Israeli media has dubbed a bloc for “change”, which would include Bennett as well as Arab-Israeli lawmakers.

In his determination to bring down the hawkish prime minister, Lapid has offered to share power and let Bennett, 49, serve the first term in a rotating premiership.

 Bennett, after meeting members of his religious-nationalist Yamina party, said Sunday: “I will do everything to form a national unity government with my friend Yair Lapid.”

 Lapid and Bennett’s parties started talks on Sunday night to formalize the deal, they said in a statement.

Religious-nationalist Yamina won seven seats in March 23 elections, but one member has refused to join an anti-Netanyahu coalition.

Netanyahu, who has been in office for 12 consecutive years after an earlier three-year term, in his own televised address minutes later lashed out at the plan, calling it “a danger for the security of Israel”.

 – ‘Desperate position’ – 

He had earlier Sunday tried to cling to power by offering his own, last-ditch power-sharing agreement to several former allies including Bennett. He warned Israel would otherwise be ruled by a dangerous “left-wing” alliance. Lapid has until Wednesday 11:59 pm local time (2059 GMT) to build a coalition of at least 61 deputies, a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

 A Lapid government would also include the centrist Blue and White party of Netanyahu’s rival Benny Gantz and the hawkish New Hope party of his former ally Gideon Saar. Avigdor Lieberman’s pro-settlement Yisrael Beitenu party as well as historically powerful Labour and the dovish Meretz party would also join.

The shaky arrangement would need the backing of some Arab-Israeli lawmakers of Palestinian descent in order to pass a confirmation vote in parliament. The intense talks follow weeks of escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. The Israeli airstrikes ended with a May 21 truce, as well as violence in the occupied West Bank and in mixed Jewish-Arab towns in Israel, initially appeared to leave Netanyahu more likely to hold onto power.

But political scientist Gayil Talshir at Hebrew University told AFP on Sunday that Israel was now “closer than ever” to the coalition of change, adding: “Netanyahu is in a desperate position”.Netanyahu’s Likud party won 30 seats in the March elections but failed to form a governing coalition after his far-right partners refused to sit with Arab factions or receive their support.

Lapid, whose party won 17 seats, was then given four weeks to form a government.Netanyahu had previously pushed for yet another election — Israel’s fifth in a little more than two years.

 – More elections? –

 On Sunday Netanyahu offered his own proposal of a rotation agreement with Bennett and Saar. But Saar on Twitter said he remained committed to “replacing the Netanyahu regime”.Netanyahu in a video then called on Saar and Bennett to “come now, immediately” to meet him and join a three-way rotation government, warning they were “in a crucial moment for the security, character and future of the state of Israel”.

Lapid’s “change” coalition also still faced several obstacles. Some right-wing lawmakers object to a partnership with politicians from Israel’s Arab minority, around a fifth of the population. The recent Gaza crisis sparked inter-communal clashes between Jewish and Arab Israelis in mixed cities.

Arab politicians have also been divided about joining the government headed by Bennett, who supports expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians hope to create a state.Even with support from an Arab party, a new coalition in Israel is unlikely to reverse years of Israeli settlement construction or bring peace any time soon with Hamas in Gaza.

If the anti-Netanyahu camp does not manage to form a government on time, a majority of 61 lawmakers could vote to ask the president to name a new premier. Another scenario would see the country return, yet again, to the polls.

Abduction of Nigerian children from Islamic seminaries: who did it?


Gunmen kidnapped scores of children from an Islamic seminary in central Nigeria, officials said, the latest in a string of such incidents plaguing the populous African nation.

Some 200 children were at the school in Niger state on Sunday during the attack, the local government tweeted, adding “an unconfirmed number” was taken. The abduction came a day after 14 students from a university in northwestern Nigeria were freed after 40 days in captivity.

Niger state police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said the attackers arrived on motorbikes in Regina town and started shooting indiscriminately, killing one resident and injuring another, before kidnapping the children from the Salihu Tanko Islamic school.

 One of the school’s officials, who asked not to be named, said the attackers initially took more than 100 children “but later sent back those they considered too small for them, those between four and 12 years old”. The state government, in a series of tweets, said the attackers had released 11 of the pupils who were “too small and couldn’t walk” very far.

In a later Twitter thread, the state added the governor Sani Bello had directed “security agencies to bring back [the] children as soon as possible”.

– ‘Bandits’ –

Armed gangs are terrorizing inhabitants in northwest and central Nigeria by looting villages, stealing cattle, and taking people hostage.Such seizures have become a frequent way for criminals to collect ransoms.Since December 2020, before the attack on Sunday, 730 children and students had been kidnapped.

On April 20, gunmen known locally as “bandits” stormed Greenfield University in northwestern Nigeria and kidnapped around 20 students, killing a member of the school’s staff in the process.

Five students were executed a few days later to force families and the government to pay a ransom. Fourteen were released on Saturday. Local press said that the families had paid a ransom totaling 180 million nairas ($440,000) for their release.

– ‘Kidnappings must stop’ -Africa’s most populous country has been plagued by kidnappings for years, with criminals largely targeting the wealthy and prominent.But more recently, the pool of victims has expanded with the poor now also taken for ransom.

Earlier this month, hundreds of protesters partially blocked a motorway into the capital Abuja after a spate of kidnappings in the area.Marching along the highway, a dozen young men chanted: “We won’t accept this, kidnapping must stop!”

The criminal gangs maintain camps in the Rugu forest which straddles northern and central Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger states.

Their motives have been financial with no ideological leanings, but there is growing concerned they are being infiltrated by jihadists from the northeast waging a 12-year-old insurrection to establish an Islamic state.

 The kidnappings in the northwest are also complicating challenges facing Buhari’s security forces, battling a more than decade-long northeast Islamist insurgency

Why such a huge increase in Dubai’s property buying spree?


Under pandemic, this new property buying spree in Dubai is a new wave of recovery and boom for Dubai. People from all over the world especially from the European sector are making a huge investment in Dubai’s property. The sale and purchase of Dubai’s property are being done like hotcakes.

The hottest segment of the market is the Luxury villas in which people from Europe has been showing keen interest in specific interest in Dubai’s signature Palm Jumeirah man-made island, as well as golf course estates.

Since 2014 the Dubai’s property  has been on the decline which was compounded by last year’s pandemic but now all of a sudden the lockdown in most of the countries, Dubai has proved to be a heaven for investors from the world over.

 Zhann Zochinke, chief operating officer of consultancy Property Monitor said because of corona Dubai has slammed its doors shut but now after that lockdown period we started to see transaction volumes increase, and they really haven´t stopped since.

He said that  there has been a significant increase in business volume  and monthly gains show a quite healthy recovery of the economy.

The Gulf emirate became one of the first destinations to reopen to visitors, last July, pairing the open-door policy with strict rules on masking and social distancing, and an energetic vaccination program that has produced some of the highest inoculation rates globally.

Despite a surge in coronavirus cases in the new year after holidaymakers descended en masse, life has continued largely as normal with restaurants and hotels open, and few of the restrictions that have blighted life elsewhere.

A lot of investors are coming from Europe as the  relaxed residency rules and a decision to allow full foreign ownership of firms are giving added  advantage under the pandemic situation worldwide.

This has further given a boost to the tourism industry, which is a major contributor of economic growth which is not short of oil of other middle east countries.

“Travel and tourism firms recorded the most notable bounce in performance, amid increasing hopes of a rise in tourism activity later in the year, boosted by the rapid vaccine roll-out,” said the research firm´s economist David Owen.

After years of torpor when homeowners watched their equity drain away, the surge in luxury properties above 10 million dirhams ($2.7 million) has been striking, with 90 transactions in April compared to around 350-400 on a regular yearly basis, according to Property Monitor.

A mansion on the Palm has sold for 111.25 million dirhams, the highest price reached in years in the precinct which features 16 “fronds” lined with show-stopping houses and supercars parked in the driveways.

The highest-priced property now available on the block is a vast Italian-inspired modern villa positioned at the end of one of the fronds, complete with 180-degree beach frontage, which is being offered for 100 million dirhams.

After it languished on the market during the gloomy days at the height of the pandemic, the developers are hoping that one of the new breed of cashed-up Europeans will be tempted by the infinity pool, private cinema, and acres of marble and glass.

“I think people have started to realize that Dubai is not just a construction site anymore, which it was maybe 10 years ago when we had the most amount of cranes in the world,” said Matthew Bate, CEO of BlackBrick, one of the agencies representing the property.

“People are now looking at Dubai and saying — I’m going to make this my primary home. I can work from Dubai and still manage a business in Europe or North America or Asia,” he said.

“So I think what Covid ultimately did, it opened the doors for us to the rest of the world.”

In a market where many fortunes have been made and lost, there is nervousness about whether the recent giddy rises can be sustained.

Sales of properties above 10 million dirhams rose 6.7% in April compared to the previous month, and 81 villas were sold on the Palm in April alone compared to 54 in all of 2020, according to Property Monitor.

Even with the remarkable gains, the market is still off its highs of 2014, and the apartment market is trailing far behind.

The financial services firm Morgan Stanley, however, said in a recent report that the rally isn’t likely to stop soon.

“Robust demand, peaking supply growth, and long lead times for new projects could lead to a tighter-than-expected market over the next several years,” it said.

It credited “a wave of government reforms over the past 12 months, attractive mortgage rates, and a shift in demand patterns due to Covid-19”.

Stricter control of biolabs if any future pandemic to avoid; Scientists say



 The theory that Covid-19 might be the result of scientific experiments have thrown a spotlight on the work of the world´s most secure Biolabs.

While the evidence linking SARS-CoV-2 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China is strictly circumstantial, a number of experts want tougher controls on such facilities over fears that accidental leaks could touch off the next pandemic.

Here´s what you should know.

– 59 top facilities –

The Wuhan lab belongs to the most secure class, commonly referred to as biosafety level 4, or BSL4.

These are built to work safely and securely with the most dangerous bacteria and viruses that can cause serious diseases for which there are no known treatment or vaccines.

“There are HVAC filtration systems so that the virus can´t escape through exhaust; any wastewater that leaves the facility is treated with either chemicals or high temperatures to make sure that there´s nothing alive,” Gregory Koblentz, director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University told AFP.

The researchers themselves are highly trained and wear hazmat suits.

There are 59 such facilities across the world, according to a report Koblentz co-authored that was released this week.

“There are no binding international standards for safe, secure, and responsible work on pathogens,” the report, called Mapping Maximum Biological Containment Labs Globally said.

– Accidents do happen –

Accidents can happen, sometimes at the top-tier facilities, and much more frequently at lower rung labs of which there are thousands.

Human H1N1 virus — the same flu that caused 1918 pandemic — leaked in 1977 in the Soviet Union and China and spread worldwide.

In 2001, a mentally disturbed employee at a US bio lab mailed out anthrax spores across the country, killing five people.

Two Chinese researchers exposed to SARS in 2004 spread the disease to others, killing one.

In 2014, a handful of smallpox vials were uncovered during an Food and Drug Administration office move.

Lynn Klotz, a senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, has been sounding the alarm for many years about the public safety threats posed by such facilities.

“Human errors constitute over 70 percent of the errors in laboratories,” he told AFP, adding that US researchers have to rely on data from Freedom of Information requests to learn of these incidents.

– ´Gain of function´ controversy –

There is a disagreement between the US government, which funded bat coronavirus research in Wuhan, and some independent scientists, about whether this work was controversial “gain of function” (GOF) research.

GOF research entails modifying pathogens to make them more transmissible, deadlier, or better able to evade treatment and vaccines — all to learn how to fight them better.

This field has long been contentious. The debate reached a fever pitch when two research teams in 2011 showed they could make bird flu transmissible between mammals.

Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch told AFP he was concerned “that it would create a strain of virus that if it infected a laboratory worker could not just kill that laboratory worker… but also cause a pandemic.”

“The research is not required and does not contribute to the development of drugs or vaccines,” added molecular biologist Richard Ebright of Rutgers University, one of the staunchest opponents of this kind of research.

In 2014 the US government announced a pause in federal funding for such work, which gave way in 2017 to a framework that would consider each application on a case-by-case basis.

But the process has been criticized as lacking transparency and credibility.

As late as last year, a nonprofit received funding from the US on research to “predict spillover potential” of bat coronavirus to humans in Wuhan.

Questioned by Congress this week, Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health denied this amounted to gain of function research, but Ebright said it clearly does.

– The path ahead –

None of this means that Covid-19 definitely leaked from a lab — in fact there is no hard scientific evidence in favor of natural origin or lab accident scenario said, Ebright.

But there are certain lines of circumstantial evidence in favor of the latter. For instance, Wuhan is around 1,000 miles north of bat caves that harbor the ancestor virus, well out of the animals´ flight range.

Scientists from Wuhan were however known to be carrying out routine trips to those caves to take samples.

Alina Chan, a molecular biologist from the Broad Institute, said there were no signs of risky pathogen research dying down in the wake of the pandemic — in fact “it´s possibly expanded.”

Last year, Chan published research showing that unlike SARS, SARS-CoV-2 was not evolving fast when it was first detected in humans — another piece of circumstantial evidence that could point to lab origin.

Chan considers herself a “fence-sitter” on the competing hypotheses but does not favor banning risky research, fearing it would then go underground.

One solution “might just be as simple as moving these research institutes out into extremely remote areas…where you have to quarantine for two weeks before we re-enter human society,” she said.

Eat healthy chinese foods and get optimum benefits

 Like many cultures, food is a central part of Chinese heritage and identity. Unfortunately, many loved and commonly eaten Chinese dishes are high in fat and drenched in sodium-packed sauces. That’s not to say you can’t indulge every once in a while, but it’s important to know your best bets for preparing or ordering a healthy Chinese food meal.

During holidays, such as Chinese New Year, deep-fried meats, egg rolls, dumplings, and cakes are served, making it difficult to eat healthfully during the holiday season. Plus, anytime you walk into a Chinese food restaurant in the United States, the menus are full of meat-centered, oily meals served with heaps of carbohydrates. But these choices do not represent the traditional Chinese diet.

Traditionally, steamed vegetables have been the main staple of Chinese food. These steamed vegetables and tea, combined with only occasional red meat and minimal fried food, led to immense health benefits for Chinese people. Their traditional plant-based diet has been shown to be one of the main factors in decreased rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity among rural Chinese people.

 Another main staple of the traditional Chinese food diet is rice. For a healthier, more fiber-filled side dish try eating brown rice instead of plain white rice. Sandra Wong, D.O., a family medicine physician with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says there are also many healthy options for noodles, which are also popular in Chinese food culture.

“For the most nutritious noodles, choose 100 percent buckwheat soba noodles, whole-grain udon noodles, brown rice noodles and Shirataki noodles,” Dr. Wong says.

Soba noodles are made from wholegrain buckwheat flour, making them a good source of protein, fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. When choosing udon noodles and rice noodles, Dr. Wong says to opt for whole wheat and avoid their less nutritious counterparts.


Traditional udon noodles are usually refined so choose whole-grain udon noodles, which have more protein and fiber,” she says. “Rice noodles are made from rice flour and typically are low in protein and fiber so choose higher-nutrient brown rice versions.”


Dr. Wong says shirataki noodles, which are made from the root of the konjac yam, are extremely healthy as they are high in fiber and water. A popular weight-loss food, these noodles are low in carbohydrates as well as calories and are naturally gluten-free. They also contain a type of soluble fiber called glucomannan that, when combined with water, drastically increases in volume. This promotes a sense of fullness and helps aid in stool elimination.

Terence Lin, M.D., internal medicine and interventional cardiology specialist with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says healthy carbohydrates are important, but it’s easy to eat too much of a good thing if you aren’t mindful of your eating habits.

 “The proper portion size for rice and noodles is generally about a half-cup cooked or one-quarter cup if measured dry. This is one serving, and is about the size of half of a tennis ball,” Dr. Lin says.

 When you are cooking a meal or going out to a restaurant, remember that there are many options that are both healthy and represent authentic Chinese food. In addition to selecting a healthy carbohydrate, try to choose a low-sodium, low-fat vegetable dish with chicken or tofu as your main course. Identify healthy choices that you can consistently follow in order to make successful lifestyle changes.

 Tips for Preparing Healthy Chinese Food

Instead of eating your favorite salty or oily dish every day or once a week, only eat it once a month as a special treat. Get your family on board to designate one day a month for your favorite dish, and stick to vegetable-based dishes for the rest of the month.

Consider saving high-fat, special dishes for big events, like family banquets.

Decrease soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce used in preparing your favorite meal. Decrease chili and hot sauce use. Instead, choose dried, crushed or freshly sliced pepper. Avoid monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG.

Reduce the amount of cooking oil you use.

Instead of frying food with cooking oil, try steaming, boiling, roasting or stewing your food with alternative ingredients. For example, instead of cooking oil, use rice wine, tomato juice, ginger, garlic, pepper, or other low- or non-fat seasonings and cooking ingredients.

For roast duck, take a serrated knife and cut off the fat in between the skin and the meat. For roast pork and other meats, cut off the pieces of fat before eating.

Avoid eating the skin on meat, or only eat half of the skin that is put on your plate. Avoid eating any high-sodium seasoning traditionally served with the dish.

Often at Chinese banquets, there are several bottles of soda in the middle of the table. If you really love soda, try drinking one cup of soda with ice. After that, stick to water or tea. Avoid soda outside of these special occasions.

Avoid eating instant noodles, such as Cup of Noodles, Instant Lunch or Top Ramen, as they have extremely high levels of sodium and fat. If your family does give you some to eat, try limiting the amount of seasoning you put into the broth to half of the packet. Alternatively, try putting some additional water into the noodle mix in order to dilute the sodium and fat content.

Tips for Eating at a Chinese Restaurant

Choose your main course wisely. Avoid fat, salt, and excess carbohydrates. Pick something from the vegetarian section. Eat a dish with tofu as a source of protein, instead of beef or pork.

Choose brown rice over white rice, and avoid fried rice and chow mein altogether.

Cut down on your portion size by sharing a plate and an appetizer with a friend or family member. Pack your food to take home when it arrives to avoid overeating.

Choose steamed foods over fried foods.

Avoid eating too much fish that is high in mercury, such as shark fin.

Fill up on soup.

Drink tea or water, not soda or alcohol.

Eat fruit as a dessert instead of other sweetened desserts. Skip the fortune cookie as it’s not even a Chinese treat.

Ask for the sauce, such as sweet and sour sauce, on the side.

Eat with chopsticks to slow down your meal.

Make half your plate vegetables. Eat only a quarter of a plate of carbohydrates and a quarter of a plate of protein.

Great Health Benefits 

Chinese food is very nutritional, but it is also very balanced and provides everything your body and metabolism needs to be healthy.

  • Even though Chinese people on average eat 30% more calories than Americans (according to the study from 1990) and they have same activity patterns, they don’t have problems with obesity. This is attributed to the fact that Chinese cuisine avoids sugar and nutrient-free food.
  • In the west, vegetables are “add-ons” to other dishes, but in Chinese cuisine, vegetables are put in central position. Chinese believe that large portion of vegetables can be perfectly balanced with small part of meats. Meats are important because they add complex carbohydrates.
  • Chinese foods are very low on sugar, refined carbs and high fat, which enabled our bodies to easily recognize when it is full. This enables people who eat Chinese food to eat more appropriate amount of food and not overstuff their bodies with unnecessary calories. Western food on the other hand, fools our bodies into recognizing its limits much later than it is optimal.
  • Chinese food also balances the food intake by focusing much on liquid foods (soups and watery porridges). Western food is often dry, requiring from users to drink more water during day. With regular intake of Chinese food there is no need for that, and appetite will be much better controlled.

  • All Chinese foods are made on the principle of Yin (wet and moist foods that cool you down) and Yang (dry and crisp foods that heat you up). Almost all foods in Chinese cuisine are made to have equilibrium between yin and yang ingredients. Protein foods are seen as Yang, while carbohydrates are yin.
  • Chinese almost never salad like we do in the west (raw). They cook almost all their salads at least a little, which helps our bodies to easily absorb their nutrients.
  • Chinese cooks did not forgotten ancient tradition that foods can hold excellent medicinal properties. Yin and Yang approach to food also stabilizes the health of our metabolisms, with chilies that promote digestion, garlic to fight toxins and many others.
  • Chinese teas are also excellent supplement to already balanced food cuisine. Green tea in particular is very famous for health benefits fighting heart diseases, digestion and lowering chance of cancer.
  • Chinese foods use almost zero milk products, meats are used just a little to provide balance to the meal, while great focus is placed on rice, noodles and vegetables.
  • Chinese food is almost always presented in small bite-sized pieces. This is beneficiary because our stomach will more easily process that kind of food (and preparing such food is easier because cut pieces can be cooked more quickly).

Softening of guidance for vaccination of 12 years old kids


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised earlier guidelines regarding mask use and vaccinations at summer camps. The updated guidelines, released Friday, now say that at camps where everyone has been fully vaccinated, campers can sing, play sports and weave baskets mask-free – except where required by local law.

 “In a camp setting where everybody is fully vaccinated, there’s no need for masking, there’s no need for distancing. There’s no need for screening, testing,” said Cmdr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, lead of the CDC’s Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force, which wrote the guidance.

“There is the potential, towards mid-to-late summer, [for campers] to have a pre-pandemic camp experience when everyone is fully vaccinated, if that is offered,” she added.

Confused By CDC’s Latest Mask Guidance? Here’s What We’ve Learned


Confused By CDC’s Latest Mask Guidance? Here’s What We’ve Learned

The agency’s change in guidance was prompted by improvements to vaccine policies and pandemic trends since the last iteration of camp guidance in April, Sauber-Schatz said.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 15, and the CDC has issued guidance saying that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks. “We’re also continuing to see cases, hospitalizations and deaths fall,” she said. “So this is translating to lower levels of community transmission, which is also making the camp experience safer.”

More 2.5 million adolescents ages 12 to 15 have been vaccinated since the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for this age group, according to CDC data.

At camps where not everyone is vaccinated, the guidance said, vaccinated people still do not need to wear masks. But unvaccinated people are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks indoors, and also outdoors, in crowded situations.

“Maybe you have a bunch of kids together and you’re shouting out camp cheers or singing songs,” Sauber-Schatz said. “We know that COVID-19 has spread in scenarios where the respiratory droplets can go further, which is anytime you raise your voice. So in those higher-risk situations, even outdoors, it makes sense to wear a mask.”

The CDC is also recommending that masking and distancing continue for all people with weakened immune systems.

The CDC’s earlier guidance for camps was criticized as too restrictive, leading members of Congress to call on the agency to soften the policy.

The new guidance may be good news for camps that have high rates of vaccinated campers. But the nearly 6 million adolescents ages 12 to 17 who have been vaccinated so far represent just 23% of that age group, the CDC said. While some smaller camps may be able to require full vaccination for counselors and campers, the more typical camp experience will include a mix of unvaccinated and vaccinated people.

But given how complicated it could be to run a mixed camp, some camps may choose simply to go with a policy that requires masks for everyone.

In that sense, it will be more like a recent in-person schooling, where children are masked and physically distanced in indoor settings, said Sara Bode, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who serves on the Council on School Health for the American Academy of Pediatricians.

 Enforcing different rules based on vaccination status seems unrealistic, Bode said, so “most camps that I’ve talked to, even if they have some vaccinated [campers], even if their staff are fully vaccinated, will be requiring masks for everyone.”

Even so, Bode said, camps that abide by the CDC guidelines will be able to provide safe, fun respites for kids who have been in front of screens all year. “Having that opportunity for unstructured play, peer interaction, getting outside, interacting with adults that are not their family members — these are all critical things for kids with their social-emotional growth and development,” she said.

Here are highlights of the new guidance from the CDC website:

Camps should strongly encourage all staff and campers ages 12 and up to get vaccinated before the camp session.

If everyone at camp is vaccinated, it’s OK to operate at full capacity with no masks and no social distancing (except where local rules are in conflict).

For unvaccinated adults or kids, masking indoors is recommended.

Camps should be supportive of kids or staff who choose to wear masks.

Camps should organize campers into cohorts to remain together for the whole camp session, mixing as little as possible with other campers.

If a camp does experience an outbreak of COVID-19, people who test positive for the coronavirus should isolate and unvaccinated contacts should be quarantined. (Vaccinated contacts don’t have to be.)

Local rules and regulations may supersede this guidance so camps should comply with what’s required locally.