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New Zealand detects 7 new cases of Omicron at border******
New Zealand detected seven new cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant in international arrivals over two days, taking the country's total Omicron cases to 45, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Sunday.。
Whole-genome sequencing has detected seven more COVID-19 cases of Omicron variant at the border over two days. There were now a total of 45 COVID-19 cases with the Omicron variant detected at the New Zealand border, said the ministry.。
New Zealand reported 136 cases of COVID-19 over two days, including 126 community cases and 10 imported cases at the border, said the Ministry.。
Among the new community infections, 88 were recorded in the largest city of Auckland, 17 in Waikato, 13 in the Lakes region, six in Bay of Plenty, one in Taranaki and one in Northland, according to the Ministry of Health.。
The reporting period for the community cases in the past two days included Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, said the ministry.。
The total case number of COVID-19 in the current Delta variant outbreak in the New Zealand community reached 10,619, mainly in Auckland and peripheral regions, said the ministry.。
There were 47 COVID-19 patients in New Zealand hospitals including seven cases in intensive care unit (ICU) or High Dependency Unit (HDU), it said.。
New Zealand recorded 13,485 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, said the ministry.。
According to the ministry, 91 percent of eligible New Zealanders have now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.。
New Zealand is introducing the COVID-19 Protection Framework or traffic lights framework to deal with the pandemic. The largest city Auckland and part of the North Island are at red settings. The rest of the country is at orange settings.。
Stoch feels pressure to take medal in Beijing 2022******
WARSAW, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Three-time Olympic ski jumping champion Kamil Stoch emphasized that it is very important for him to prepare well for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
The 34-year-old is considered as a strong favorite to stand on the podium during the Olympic competition.
"The last two years were crazy, so I am fully focused on the present. It is really important for me to prepare well for the Winter Olympics. It will be a good experience to take part in that event," Stoch claimed.
If Stoch wins in Beijing, he will become the second Polish athlete to take four Olympic golds after racewalker Robert Korzeniowski.
"I had such a thought, but thinking about the results causes stress and makes you want too much. It doesn't help you on the hill. My goal is just to show good quality. I treat the Winter Olympics as a stage of the season," the ski jumper explained.
"I feel a lot of pressure on my shoulders because I achieved success. However, I give everything I have and I just do my best. I have already learned how to handle this kind of pressure and the expectations," the world champion from Val di Fiemme added.
The competition in Beijing could be the last Olympics for Stoch, but he emphasized that if he fails, it will not be the end of the world for him.
"You always have to have a plan B when your results are not as good as you expected. What is more, the Olympic season does not have to be the last in my career," he concluded. Enditem
Russia, US clash at UN over Ukraine crisis as oligarchs threatened******
Russia and the United States clashed over Ukraine at the UN Security Council Monday, as London and Washington threatened to slap sanctions on wealthy Russian oligarchs if the ex-Soviet state is attacked.
French leader Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone for the second time in four days amid intense efforts by NATO allies to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
With more than 100,000 Russian troops massed on its neighbor's borders, tensions soared as US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Council that Moscow is planning to increase its force in Belarus six-fold in the coming days.
"We've seen evidence that Russia intends to expand that presence to more than 30,000 troops near the Belarus-Ukraine border, less than two hours north of Kyiv by early February," said Thomas-Greenfield.
"If Russia further invades Ukraine, none of us will be able to say we didn't see it coming, and the consequences will be horrific."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield (right) and Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslysya speak to the media following a Security Council meeting to discuss the situation between Russia and Ukraine.
But Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, rejected the allegations and said Washington was engaging "in hysterics" by calling the Council meeting on Ukraine.
He said no Russian official had threatened to invade the former Soviet republic and that Ukrainians were being "brainwashed" by the "Russiaphobia" of the West.
And he said that the troops in Belarus were there for joint exercises.
The United States is "whipping up tensions and rhetoric and provoking escalation," Nebenzia said.
"The discussions about a threat of war is provocative in and of itself. You are almost calling for this, you want it to happen," he charged.
Russia isolated at UN
Russia has repeatedly denied it poses a threat to Ukraine, while demanding guarantees that Kyiv will not join the US-led NATO alliance and that the United States will not establish new military bases in ex-Soviet countries.
Macron and Putin exchanged their views on the situation "as well as issues related to providing Russia with long-term and legally-binding security guarantees," the Kremlin said in a statement after their call.
The French presidency did not provide details on the content of their discussion, but it came one day before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is to hold fresh talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Russia sent the United States its stance on Ukraine Monday evening, just hours before the talks. A State Department spokesperson declined to divulge the details.
Russia found little support on the 15-member Council as it pushed back against allegations its troop presence on the Ukraine border was an implicit threat.
It had tried to block the meeting from taking place, but ten members voted to proceed with debate and three abstained, leaving Moscow isolated.
"This is the largest... mobilization of troops in Europe in decades," Thomas-Greenfield said.
"And as we speak, Russia is sending even more forces and arms to join them."
Ukraine's ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, called for de-escalation so talks can resume over the conflict already ongoing inside Ukraine with pro-Moscow secessionists in the eastern Donbass region.
"My president has reiterated most recently that he's ready to meet his Russian counterpart," Kyslytsya told the Council.
"If Russia has any questions to Ukraine, it is better to meet and talk, not to bring troops to the Ukrainian borders and intimidate Ukrainian people," he said.
"For Ukraine, the first priority today is to achieve a sustainable and unconditional ceasefire in Donbass."
Oligarchs under threat
Meanwhile, Britain and Washington signaled that the billionaire oligarchs around Putin would be hit with sanctions in case of an invasion.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told parliament that the government was putting through "the toughest sanctions regime against Russia we've ever had."
"Those in and around the Kremlin will have nowhere to hide," she said.
She would not name names, but on Sunday indicated that the powerful business allies of the Kremlin, many of whom have sizable business and personal assets in Britain, were in the crosshairs.
"There will be nowhere to hide for Putin's oligarchs," Truss told Sky News.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki also signaled that Washington has its eye on the same class of people for possible sanctions.
"The individuals we've identified are in or near the inner circle of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision-making," Psaki told reporters Monday.
"We have developed specific sanctions packages for both Russian elites and their family members."
The Kremlin denounced Britain's move as an "undisguised attack on business," charging that "the Anglo-Saxons are massively ramping up tensions on the European continent."