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Kovid to 150 people who attended a church camp in Texas

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Nearly 150 children and adults have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a church summer camp in Texas, officials announced.

The Clear Creek Community Church, based in League City, Texas, announced that Sunday services would be canceled this week due to the number of cases.

Over 400 people participated in Camp Creek, a four-day camp for 6th to 12th graders, in late June.

Upon returning, more than 125 of the people who attended tested positive for the virus, the church said in a statement, and “hundreds more were exposed to COVID-19 at camp.”

The Galveston County Health District, which is investigating the outbreak, told ABC News that 57 Galveston County youth and adults who attended the camp tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 90 people, including non-Galveston County residents, have self reported to the district that they tested positive for the virus, bringing the total tally to at least 147.

It’s not clear if the campers who are eligible for the vaccine were vaccinated prior to the camp trip. The church has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

The church is contacting all those impacted.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have sought to love our neighbors by practicing strict safety protocols. We are surprised and saddened by this turn of events. Our hearts break for those infected with the virus,” Bruce Wesley, the church’s lead pastor, said in the statement.

The church recommended in-person worship starting April 7 and allowed for the removal of masks in May, in accordance with the state’s phased reopening.

The Galveston County Health District was notified of the first positive case tied to the camp on June 27, GCHD said in a release.

Of the 57 Galveston County cases, six are breakthrough cases, defined as someone becoming infected more than 14 days after their second COVID-19 vaccination, according to the department.

In total, 47 of the cases are among those 12 years and older, and 10 cases are in children younger than 12.

“This is a reminder that COVID-19 is still here and we have to take precautions,” Dr. Philip Keiser, the Galveston County local health authority, said. “If you’re old enough to get vaccinated and haven’t, now is the time. These vaccines are safe and offer the best protection against COVID-19 to you, your family and your community.”

In Galveston County, the population of those aged 12 and up is 57% partially vaccinated and 52% fully vaccinated. Overall in Texas, 51% of the population aged 12 and up is fully vaccinated, per state data.

White House officials recently said younger Americans seem “less eager” to get the COVID-19 vaccine. At the moment, anyone 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine. Those who are 18 and older are eligible for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“Younger people, particularly those in their 20s, have felt less vulnerable to the disease and, therefore, less eager to get shots. They were made eligible later, so they have not been eligible as long, and we continue to see hundreds of thousands of young people vaccinated each week,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told ABC “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

In a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, among those not vaccinated, 74% said they probably or definitely won’t get a shot, which is up from 55% in April.

The result may be increased cases among youth. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released July 2 shows that confirmed COVID-19 admissions among those under 18 increased 11% over the past week.

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Two Christian Sanitation Workers Killed in Pakistan

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Pakistan – According to The Alabama Baptist, two Christian sanitation workers in Pakistan died in early October as they saved another Christian overcome by toxic fumes in a sewer.

On October 3, Faisal Masih and Nadeem Masih were ordered into a sewer to rescue Michael Masih by their Muslim supervisor Muhammad Farooq in Sargodha, Pakistan. The pair were given no personal protective equipment according to a report by Barnabas Fund.

After rescuing Michael Masih from the sewer, Faisal Maish and Nadeem Masih were swept away by a strong current. An emergency team was called to rescue the Christians, but this assistance was refused because the emergency team believed touching a Christian would make them ritually unclean.

Later, a fourth Christian was sent into sewer to recover the bodies.

Michael Masih was taken to the hospital where he likely faces long-term health problems due to his exposure to the toxic fumes. Sargodha Metropolitan Corp, the company that oversees sanitation work, claims all precautionary measures were followed.

In Pakistan, Christians make up between 80% to 90% of the sanitation workforce, including the country’s street sweepers, janitors, and sewer workers. This percentage is an extreme overrepresentation as Pakistani Christians represent less than 2% of the country’s overall population.

As has been documented by International Christian Concern (ICC), this overrepresentation is due to discriminatory hiring practices. In many cases, job advertisements for sanitation positions, considered the lowest and filthiest, are reserved for non-Muslim applicants only.

Discrimination against Christian sanitation workers is widespread in Pakistan. They are often forced to work in dangerous conditions with little to no safety equipment provide by the companies overseeing their labor.
Sources:persecution

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Taliban release decree saying women must consent to marriage

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The Taliban has issued a decree barring forced marriage in Afghanistan, saying women should not be considered “property” and must consent to marriage, but questions remain about whether the group that returned to power in mid-August would extend women’s rights around work and education.

The decree was announced on Friday by the reclusive Taliban chief, Hibatullah Akhunzada – who is believed to be in the southern city of Kandahar. “Both (women and men) should be equal,” said the decree, adding that “no one can force women to marry by coercion or pressure”.

The decree did not mention a minimum age for marriage, which previously was set at 16 years old.

The group also said a widow will now be allowed to re-marry 17 weeks after her husband’s death, choosing her new husband freely.

Widows
Longstanding tribal traditions have held it customary for a widow to marry one of her husband’s brothers or relatives in the event of his death.

The Taliban leadership says it has ordered Afghan courts to treat women fairly, especially widows seeking inheritance as next of kin. The group, which came to power in August, also said it had asked government ministers to spread awareness about women’s rights across the population.

The development was hailed as a significant step forward by two leading Afghan women, but questions remained about whether the group would extend women’s rights around work and education.

“This is big, this is huge … if it is done as it is supposed to be, this is the first time they have come up with a decree like this,” said Mahbouba Seraj, executive director of the Afghan Women’s Skills Development Center speaking from Kabul on a Reuters Next conference panel on Friday.

The international community, which has frozen billions of dollars in funds for Afghanistan, has made women’s and human rights a key element of any future engagement with Afghanistan.

Seraj said that even before the Taliban took over the country on August 15, Afghan politicians had struggled to form such a clear policy on women’s rights around marriage.

“Now what we have to do as the women of this country is we should make sure this actually takes place and gets implemented,” said Seraj.

Roya Rahmani, the former ambassador for Afghanistan to the United States, echoed her optimism and added that it was likely partly an attempt to smooth over international fears regarding the group’s track record on women’s rights as the Taliban administration seeks to get funding released.

“An amazing thing if it does get implemented,” Rahmani told the Reuters Next panel, adding details such as who would ensure that girls’ consent was not coerced by family members would be key.

“It’s a very smart move on the part of Taliban at this point because one of the (pieces of) news that is attracting the West’s attention is the fact little girls are being sold as property to others in order to feed the rest of the family,” she said.

During its previous rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban banned women from leaving the house without a male relative and full face and head covering and girls from receiving education, coerced men to grow beards and barred the playing of music.

The Taliban says they have changed but many women, advocates and officials remain sceptical.

The group promised freedom of expression, women’s rights and amnesty to officials who worked under the previous government of President Ashraf Ghani. But journalists have faced restrictions and reports have emerged of Taliban fighters involved in revenge killings of former officials. A large number of secondary schools for girls are still not operational, though Taliban has said it is working to open them.

The US has frozen nearly $10bn in Afghan central bank reserves and international financial institutions have suspended development funding for the country, plunging the heavily aid-dependent economy into crisis and leaving economists and aid groups warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Seraj said the Taliban now needed to go further, calling for the group to release more rules to clarify women’s rights to access public spaces.

“What I am really waiting to hear next from the same group, from the same person is for him to send the decree regarding the education and right of work for the women of Afghanistan, that would be absolutely phenomenal,” she said.
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Indonesia volcano: Residents flee in panic after Mount Semeru erupts

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At least one person has been killed and dozens suffered severe burns after the Mount Semeru volcano in Indonesia’s East Java province erupted on Saturday, forcing thousands to flee.

Videos shared on Saturday by the country’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) showed residents running in panic as towering smoke and ash blanketed some nearby villages in Lumajang district.

Two other people were reported missing and eight were trapped in debris, authorities said.

A thunderstorm and days of rain, which had eroded and finally collapsed the lava dome atop the 3,676-meter (12,060-foot) Semeru, triggered an eruption, said Eko Budi Lelono, who heads the geological survey center.

He said flows of searing gas and lava traveled up to 800 meters (2,624 feet) to a nearby river at least twice on Saturday. People were advised to stay 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from the crater’s mouth, the agency said.

More than 300 families with children took shelter in badly hit Curah Kerobokan village in Lumajang after their houses were destroyed by volcanic ash and lava.

The deputy chief of Lumajang district, Indah Masdar, told a news conference one person had died and 41 people had suffered burn injuries.

“We brought the injured to health centres and for those whose burns are very serious were rushed to hospitals,” Masdar said.

Thick debris and knee-level cold lava floods made it difficult for rescuers to search for the two missing locals and to evacuate eight people trapped in a building covered by mud.

Masdar asked for helicopters to rescue people trapped inside buildings. “We’re in big distress. It’s harrowing, their families are all crying.”

Thoriqul Haq, district head of Lumajang, said a number of sand miners were trapped near mines.

Haq told Reuters news agency that the road and bridge connecting Lumajang and the nearby city of Malang were severed.

“This has been a very pressing, rapid condition since it erupted,” he said. Haq added that evacuations were under way.

He later told news channel MetroTV that the severed bridge meant one nearby district had no access to medical help.

“Thick columns of ash have turned several villages to darkness,” Haq told TV One, adding that several hundred people were moved to temporary shelters or left for other safe areas.

Authorities were setting up evacuation tents, but evacuations have been hampered by thick smoke, BNPB chief Suharyanto said.

The national mitigation agency said it has dispatched a team to help people at shelters but thick debris from volcanic ash had prevented them from reaching the destination.

The Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said its satellite images show volcanic ash has entered the Indian Ocean in the southern part of Java island.

Television reports showed people running in panic under a huge ash cloud, their faces wet from rain mixed with volcanic dust.

AirNav Indonesia, which controls Indonesian airspace, said in a statement the eruption did not “cause significant impact” on flights.

The Semeru, the highest on the country’s most densely populated island, is among Indonesia’s nearly 130 active volcanoes. It erupted in January, causing no casualties.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 270 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped series of fault lines. Indonesia has some 128 active volcanoes.


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