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MLS COVID-19 UPDATE: 18 players tested positive before traveling to Orlando



NEW YORK – Major League Soccer Sunday night provided an update on the results of COVID-19 testing for players, coaches and club staff since the resumption of full team training on June 4.

As of Sunday, 18 MLS players and six club staff have received positive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests prior to travel to Orlando for the MLS is Back Tournament. A total of 668 players have been tested since early June.

In connection with the resumption of full team training in early June, MLS clubs began comprehensive testing of MLS players and technical staff that consisted of:

* Completion of two PCR tests 24 hours apart within approximately 72 hours prior to the start of training; and
continued PCR testing every other day once training began.

* Twenty-five of the MLS clubs were able to start full team training prior to traveling to Orlando for the MLS is Back Tournament, and all of those team conducted testing pursuant to this protocol.

Prior to traveling to Orlando, all players, coaches, referees, club personnel and league staff are required to complete an additional two PCR tests 24 hours apart and within approximately 72 hours of travel.

Upon arrival in Florida, all individuals are required to immediately take another PCR test and are quarantined until they receive the results of that test. To date, 329 people have been administered PCR tests on-site, and two were positive, both of which were players who had just arrived.

Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 while in Orlando will participate in a clinical assessment by a healthcare provider and moved to the isolation area of the hotel until he or she receives medical clearance.

While in isolation, MLS players and other staff will be in daily communication with and receive remote care from a healthcare provider, including monitoring of symptoms and regular follow-up testing.

MLS is working in conjunction with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County and Osceola County, to identify any close contacts. Close contacts will also receive follow-up PCR testing and may be restricted from participating in group meals and recreational activities until cleared.

Beginning Tuesday, MLS will provide an update every other day with aggregated COVID-19 testing results for all members of the MLS is Back Tournament delegation staying at the host hotel in Florida.

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Huge rise in travel-related coronavirus cases in Ireland




THERE HAS been a significant rise in the number of travel-related coronavirus cases in the Republic of Ireland.

After a number of days with low cases and no new deaths, the Republic of Ireland yesterday recorded six new deaths and 23 new cases– the highest figures in several weeks.

At a time where the debate on closing borders is raging and Irish people have been urged not to go on holidays abroad, rather remain in Ireland for the summer, the rise in travel-related cases is particularly worrying.

Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health, yesterday told a press briefing that “15 of today’s confirmed cases are directly or indirectly related to travel”.

“NPHET today reiterates that all non-essential travel overseas should be avoided.”

Earlier this month, the Government decided to delay the publishing of a ‘Green List’ of countries which will be open for non-essential travel– namely, for holidays.

The plans were pushed back until 20 July after a concerning rise in cases both at home and abroad, and after images spread of revellers not adhering to social distancing in the streets after pubs opened in Ireland.

With pubs reopening, complacency amongst young people is a particular concern to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Acting CMO Dr Ronan Glynn told the press briefing yesterday that out of the 23 new cases, “77% of cases… are under 25 years of age.

“Covid-19 is extremely infectious and none of us are immune. It is important that we all continue to follow public health advice and risk assess our actions.”

Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said there is “an immediate need for us all to take care and caution in our decisions and actions”.

Speaking yesterday, he revealed that the R number is now at or above 1, meaning each infected person is infecting at least one other person with the virus, allowing it to spread quickly through the community.





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How Covid-19 will change air travel as we know it




In the heart of Australian outback lies Alice Springs. The town – colloquially known as Alice – is the site of indigenous human presence dating back nearly 30,000 years. More recently, however, a new (and admittedly very different) type of settler has descended upon Alice. Since April, four Airbus A380s have made their way to the small town. The 500-plus-tonne behemoths belong to Singapore Airlines which, like many other carriers, has grounded almost its entire fleet.

The reason is Covid-19. The spread of the novel coronavirus has caused passenger demand to collapse, forcing airlines to park, rather than fly, their planes. Alice offers conditions ideal to do just that. The local airport has a runway long enough to land commercial airplanes and the climate is dry, which means aircraft parts corrode far slower than in the sweltering heat and humidity of South East Asia.

Slumps in travel demand aren’t new. Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, passenger enthusiasm towards flying also waned amid security fears. This forced airlines – then, like now – to cancel flights and puts planes into storage. The industry did recover. Passenger numbers for 2002 were 1.63 billion, only slightly lower than the 1.66 billion who flew in 2001. But passenger numbers don’t tell the whole story.

The 9/11 attacks also forced airlines to trim costs through furloughs, layoffs, and most notably, consolidation. Prior to the attacks, the US airline market – the world’s most lucrative – was largely controlled by eight carriers. Today, its four. Following the attacks, airlines also became more cautious and shelved plans for aggressive expansion. This led to fewer flights overall and for passengers, less space as planes got fuller.

Whether Covid-19 has a similar impact on the industry and how passengers fare in the aftermath will depend on a few things.

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The collapse in air travel demand has been driven largely by public policy. As Covid-19 spread, governments worldwide chose – in the interests of preserving public health – to ban entry to non-residents. Some countries like India, Malaysia and South Africa stopped issuing visitor visas. Others like the Australia, New Zealand and the United States suspended visa-free travel reciprocity. The move not only ended the plans of millions of travellers but also forced airlines to stop serving once-lucrative markets. Flying empty planes around makes little fiscal sense. Consequently, getting planes back in the air will require an easing of government entry restrictions.

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BBC – Travel – Chinguetti: Mauritania’s ancient Saharan city




Rising like a mirage on the edge of Mauritania’s vast Erg Warane sand dunes, the ancient city of Chinguetti has welcomed travellers seeking shelter from the blistering Saharan heat for more than 1,200 years. Founded in the 8th Century as a caravan stop for pilgrims en route to Mecca, this red-stone desert oasis eventually blossomed into one of the biggest centres of science, religion and mathematics in West Africa.

As pilgrims and scholars came and went, many left religious texts, scientific studies and historical manuscripts. In fact, so many of these historical documents accumulated over the years that during Chinguetti’s peak between the 13th and 17th Centuries, this thriving city boasted 30 libraries.

Today, five of these original libraries remain and a team of loyal custodians humbly guards more than 1,000 priceless medieval Quranic manuscripts from the sand, wind and heat. But as the Sahara continues to expand southward at an alarmingly fast rate and encroach on Chinguetti’s flat-roofed buildings, and with climate change recently causing seasonal flash flooding to rip through the town, the future of these Islamic treasures remains in jeopardy.

This video is part of BBC Reel’s Incredible Libraries playlist.

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