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As Covid-19 Cases Grow, Pakistan Finally Rushes To Search Tablighi Event Pilgrims

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Tablighi Jamat, an Islamic organization that spreads the ideals of Islam saw a massive gathering of thousands of delegates across Asia, including India and Pakistan.

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Dehli, the global spiritual center of the Jamaat hosted this event and received pilgrims from more than 80 countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, the US, and even the neighboring Pakistan.

The massive gathering was considered a breeding ground for the virus as 960 foreign Tablighi Jamaat delegates tested positive for COVID-19.

As many as 77 form Kyrgyzstan, 75 from Malaysian, 65 form Thailand, 12 from Vietnam, 9 from Saudi Arabia and three from France were among the ones affected during the Jamaat congregation.

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The Modi-government cooperated with their respective embassies and agreed to treat them in India amid the national lockdown and their visas being suspended. India traced the Jamaat pilgrims at the earliest and has already put them in different quarantine centers.

Similar gatherings were also held in Malaysia and Pakistan. While all other countries have already taken extra measures and precautions, Pakistan has now started to trace the Tablighi Jamat pilgrims, as per the latest reports.

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The Tablighi Jamat event was hosted in the town of Raiwind in Lahore in mid-March and saw a gathering of 70, 000 people.  Among those around 2258 people have tested positive so far. The Pakistan authorities are still searching for thousands of other worshippers who might have attended the religious gathering last month.

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Fearing the further spread of the deadly virus in the impoverished country, Islamabad has now sealed the gathering’s location outside the eastern city. Tracking the names given by the Jamaat organizers and trusting the word of mouth, a total of  7,000 attendees in Punjab province have been recognized and placed in isolation.

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1500 foreign delegates are now being kept under isolation in Pakistan but many have left the country without being tested which has lead to further panic. The country is struggling with religious sensitivities as about 78% of total cases reportedly have come from religious groups.

A prominent follower of Tabligh-e-Jamaat in Pakistan, Mufti Najeeb Khan said: ” it  was cut short after the government instructions came for a lockdown.”  “If there were clear instructions, the event would not have happened,” he added.

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Hagia Sophia: Turkey turns iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia into mosque

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

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The iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque. Hours after a landmark court ruling Friday (July 10), the Turkish government confirmed that Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia will be reopened for worship after an 85-year hiatus.

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The nearly 1,500-year-old architectural gem will be transferred to the state Religious Affairs Directorate under a presidential decree, according to a Friday announcement in the Official Gazette.

Earlier Friday, ruling on a petition filed by an Istanbul NGO, Turkey’s Council of State overturned a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum.

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

After centuries of use as a church under the Byzantine Empire, in 1453 Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by Mehmet II following his conquest of Istanbul. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum. Posting his decree on social media today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed best wishes for the change, which he has long advocated.

While details of the change are not yet known, Turkish officials have pointed out that many famed houses of worship, such as Paris’ Notre Dame and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, are also open to visitors.

“Opening up Hagia Sophia to worship won’t keep local or foreign tourists from visiting the site,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, told Anadolu Agency in an interview this week. Turkey is home to people of many faiths who can freely exercise their religions, he added.

World Reacts To Decision On Hagia Sophia

The Russian Orthodox Church expressed shock at Turkey’s decision to withdraw the museum status of Hagia Sophia, blaming it of disregarding voices of millions of Christians. “The concern of millions of Christians has not been heard,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida stated.

“Today’s court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored,” Legoida said.

UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status, saying it was “regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialogue nor notification beforehand”.

“UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialogue without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session,” the UN’ cultural body said in a statement.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides tweeted –  Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations”.

Christodoulides said Turkey’s “escalating, flagrant violation of its international obligations is manifested in its decision to alter the designation of Hagia Sophia, a World Heritage Site that is a universal symbol of the Orthodox faith”.

Later, Greece called Turkey’s move an “open provocation to the civilised world”. “The nationalism displayed by Erdogan … takes his country back six centuries,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.

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Indian Air Force Receives Complete Delivery Apache, Chinook Helicopters

Boeing India also tweeted: Thank you, @IAF_MCC, for your partnership. We’re happy to have completed the deliveries of the 22 #AH64-E Apache and 15 #Chinook helicopters to India.

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the delivery of all AH-64E Apache and CH-47F(I) Chinook helicopters today. The final five of the 22 Apache attack helicopters were handed over to the IAF at Air Force Station, Hindon.

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Earlier, Boeing had handed over the last five of 15 CH-47F (I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to the Indian Air Force, read a statement. India is one of 17 nations to select the Apache and has opted for the most advanced version of the attack helicopter.

“Customer centricity, commitment to the modernization and mission-readiness of India’s defence forces are key values to our partnership with India,” said Surendra Ahuja, Managing Director, Boeing Defence India.

“With this delivery of military helicopters, we continue to nurture this partnership and are fully committed to working closely with India’s defence forces to deliver the right value and capabilities to meet their operational needs,” Ahuja added.

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COVID-19 Exposes India, Philippines To Higher Risk Of Cancer; Australia, Malaysia Safest – Index

According to an index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea are most prepared to meet the burden of more cancer cases. Meanwhile, India, the Philippines and Vietnam are ill-prepared to face such a challenge. 

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As people living in Asian countries get richer and lead to sedimentary and unhealthy lifestyles, cancer is predicted to increases. However, countries such as Australia, Malaysia and South-Korea are well prepared to battle cancer while countries such as India and the Philippines are ill-prepared.

According to an index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea are most prepared to meet the burden of more cancer cases. Meanwhile, India, the Philippines and Vietnam are ill-prepared to face such a challenge.

The EIU has warned of a mini-tsunami of cancer cases as the coronavirus subsides and patients feel safe to visit hospitals. Out of fear of catching the coronavirus, cancer patients have avoided getting treatments done at hospitals.

Even hospitals put cancer treatment on the back burner as a top priority was given to curing COVID-19 cases. In the Philippines, for instance, cancer patients who were no longer able to attend advanced medical facilities were simply discharged into the wider community without any continuity of care.

The index measured the preparedness of 10 Asia-Pacific countries using 45 indicators and created a scorecard for each country, with 100 being most prepared.

Australia led the ranking with a score of 92.4, followed by South Korea with 83.4, and Malaysia with 80.3. All three have rigorous vaccination programs, including for hepatitis B which is linked to liver cancer, and HPV which can cause cervical cancer.

These countries tend to be aggressive in gathering information about individual cases at a national level so policymakers can understand the scale of the problem and design effective responses.

The rankings indicate that the three countries mentioned above have managed to keep the mortality rate down. This indicates that they are either detecting cancers at an early stage and/or are able to treat their patients effectively. Cancers that are more advanced are difficult to cure.

Unhealthy Habits a Cause of Concern

Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, are all rapidly growing economies whose populations have developed bad habits such as smoking. For example, nearly 40% of Indonesians aged 15 and older smoke.

Similarly, obesity amongst children in Thailand and Indonesia, countries where medical services are harder to access, could become a problem in the near future.

The EIU suggests that governments could support low-income groups by subsidizing health care costs and that patients should not have to pay more than 20% of their medical bills. 62.4% of medical expenses are still paid by patients in India, 53% in the Philippines, 45.3% in Vietnam and 36.1% in China.

Presently, governments Government health care expenditure is also low in these countries, at just 3.4% of total expenditure in New Delhi, 7.1% in the Manila, 9.1% in Beijing and 9.5% in Hanoi.

In terms of service affordability, accessibility to cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and cancer research, Japan tops the list. Tokyo has prioritized tackling the disease ever since it became the leading cause of deaths from 1981.

However, Japan has a poor track record for data collection, an issue that also became clear during the coronavirus crisis and is slow in introducing vaccination programs. The EIU also noted “a concerning prevalence of modifiable risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption in Japan,” and urged the government to promote healthier lifestyles.

Despite having advance medical facilities and superior services, cancer patients in Japan have a higher mortality rate than patients in Australia and South Korea.

Cancers are caused by damage to genes and such genetic errors tend to increase with age, obesity and bad habits, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise. Half of the cancer patients in the world currently live in Asia. By 2030, cancer cases are expected to rise by 35% in the region, even as its population is expected to grow just 9%.

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