DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — New labor rules in the energy-rich nation of Qatar “effectively dismantles” the country's long-criticized “kafala” employment system, a U.N. labor body said Sunday.

The International Labor Organization said as of now, migrant workers can change jobs before the end of their contracts without obtaining the permission of their current employers.

Qatar also has adopted a minimum monthly wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($275) for workers, which will take effect some six months after the law is published in the country's official gazette, the ILO said. The minimum wage rule requires employers to pay allowances for housing and food as well if they don't provide those for their workers.

Amnesty International praised the move as “an encouraging sign that Qatar may finally be heading in the right direction,” although employers still can file criminal charges against “absconding” employees, meaning those who left their jobs without permission.


“We call on Qatar to go further with these reforms, including removing the charge of absconding, to make sure that the rights of all workers are fully protected,” Amnesty official Steve Cockburn said in a statement.

Qatar, whose citizens enjoy one of the world’s highest per-capita incomes due to its natural gas reserves, partially ended the “kafala” system in 2018. That system ties workers to their employers, who had say over whether they could leave their jobs or even the country.

Qatar is being transformed by a building boom fueled by its vast oil and natural gas wealth. Like other energy-rich Gulf nations with relatively small local populations, Qatar relies on well over a million guest workers, many of them drawn from South Asian nations including India and Nepal. Rights activists long have criticized the “kafala” system as allowing abuses of those foreign workers.

This comes as Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the Arabian Peninsula nation. Having the winning bid for the soccer tournament brought renewed attention to laborers' rights in Qatar.

Meanwhile Sunday, the United Arab Emirates announced it now requires private employers to grant new fathers five paid days off after the birth of a child.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A 3-year-old girl in Taiwan was reported safe after becoming caught in the strings of a kite and lifted several meters into the air.

The unidentified girl was taking part in a kite festival Sunday in the seaside town of Nanlioao when she was caught up by a giant, long-tailed orange kite.

Video shot at the scene showed her twisting several times above a crowd of adults who struggled to pull the kite back to earth.

News reports said the girl was frightened but suffered no physical injuries in the incident.

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania 

Julius Minani and his 32-year-old friend Kaduna spent weeks squatting in a dilapidated shack in Alexandria in Johannesburg.

The pair had been evicted from an apartment due to outstanding rent.

Their troubles began in April, when Minani, a chef, was laid off from a fast-food chain restaurant after his bosses complained about a loss of business due to the coronavirus virus, forcing the business to close.

Distraught, Minani, a Burundi native, had been trying to find work but failed due to the imposed lockdown and social distancing restrictions.

“We were literary starving, and couldn’t sustain ourselves as our savings dried out,” Minani told Anadolu Agency.

Minani, who moved to South Africa three years ago in search of greener pastures, is among the many migrant workers who have lost jobs because of economic difficulties triggered by the deadly virus.

Lockdowns travel bans and social distancing measures imposed by governments to quell the spread of the pandemic have pushed the global economy to a virtual standstill.

Double tragedy

Thousands of African migrant workers forced to return home after losing work, face unemployment and poverty in their own countries, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In host countries, sectors that depend on migrant workers have suffered due to an increased risk of infections and loss of work, wages and health insurance coverage, the labor agency said.

The coronavirus crisis was expected to wipe out 6.7% of working hours globally in the second quarter on 2020 -- equivalent to 195 million full-time workers, said the ILO.

Sectors most at risk include accommodation, food services, manufacturing, retail, business and administrative activities.

Wrecked by crippling unemployment and business disruption, migrants’ families at home have suffered a double tragedy due to the loss of remittances.

“Many migrant workers, who have lost their jobs in the host countries had returned when travel restrictions eased, although they might wish to go back after some time,”, the Director of the ILOs

Condition of Work and Equality Department, Manuela Tomei, told Anadolu Agency.

There are approximately 164 million migrant workers globally, while not all have returned home, ILO said many would.

One more try

Minani, who returned to his village in Burundi in June, has not been able to find meaningful work and is considering going back to Johannesburg.

“I would like to go back to Jo’burg when things go back to normal,” he said. “I don’t have anything.”

Remittance flows, which provide an economic lifeline for many poor families in Africa are expected to fall significantly.

The decrease could exacerbate poverty and deny families’ access to much-needed health services, especially in Africa where residents lack social protection, the World Bank said in a report.

The report, “COVID-19 Crisis: Through a Migration Lens,” tracks emerging global trends on migration and remittances flows.

The coronavirus outbreak and measures to stop it have caused severe economic problems in East Africa.

As migrant workers had their hours cut, or completely lost jobs, many were unable to financially support their families at home.

Lucrative enterprise

Migrants sent $689 billion in global remittances in 2018, according to the World Bank, helping fight poverty, boosting household spending on health, education and helped to solve social and economic problems.

But analysts say measures taken to curb the virus will badly reduce the share of money migrant workers send home this year and 2021.

In its sharpest decline in history, global remittances are expected to plummet by about 20% this year, the World Bank said.

Families that depend on remittances are struggling to eke out a living.

In 2020, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries are expected to drop by around 20% to $445 billion, from $554 billion in 2019, World Bank data show.

Remittances are an important source of revenue.

Across Africa, Nigeria is the largest recipient of remittances, with a whopping $23.8 billion received in 2019, an increase of more than half a billion compared to 2018. Ghana and Kenya are ranked a distant second and third in Africa, with $3.5 billion and $2.8 billion received, respectively.

Feeling the pinch

At Kiomboi village in Tanzania’s drought-hit Singida region, Fortunata Mgaya, 58, was a happy woman until recently.

With her Vocadom Mpesa mobile wallet, money would arrive within seconds -- $200 would be sent by her daughter, Joan, who works in Oman.

It was the only source of income for Mgaya and her family.

It has been two months since Joan last sent money, and with her daughter’s narrowing work opportunities, the future is bleak.

“She was very quick to send me money, but now she hardly sends any,” said Mgaya.

The decline in remittance flows is expected to be sharpest in sub-Saharan Africa. Remittances are expected to fall by 23.1% in 2020 to reach $37 billion, according to the World Bank.

Remittances are expected to further decline, it warned.

The crisis caused by COVID-19 has created mayhem in important sectors that employ migrant workers thus disproportionately affecting food and hospitality, retail and wholesale, tourism and transport, and manufacturing.

“I am stranded financially, but I think the situation will soon stabilize so that I can start sending money to my family,” said Sudi Ahmed, a Tanzanian who works as a logistics technician in Italy./aa

EDIRNE, Turkey 

A total of 11 irregular migrants were held near Turkey’s Greek border on Sunday after reportedly beaten by Greek security forces and forced to depart for Turkey, a Pakistani migrant told Anadolu Agency.

The migrant group -- including Pakistani and Afghan nationals -- were held by the local gendarmerie forces in the Kapikule area of Edirne, a northwestern Turkish province bordering Greece and Bulgaria, while attempting to illegally cross into Europe, said a source on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

According to the source, one of the migrants was found unconscious.

They were later referred to provincial migration directorate.

The irregular migrants claimed that Greek authorities forcibly sent them to Turkey.

Pakistani irregular migrants told about their difficulties in the process of repatriation to Turkey.

Isa Yakoubi, a Pakistani migrant, told Anadolu Agency that the Greek security forces beat them and left them on the Turkish side.

"We do not have any money and are in a rough situation [but] the police in Turkey are nice," he added.

Another Afghan migrant Faysal Hakimi also told Anadolu Agency that they wanted to go to Germany and said: "They [Greek forces] beat us and sent us back here. We also have a friend who is sick. They took our money and phones and sent us back with a boat."

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry, and over 336,000 have been held so far this year./aa

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is changing Indian Kashmir's residency laws for the first time since 1947, in a bid to snuff out any challenge to the disputed territory belonging to India.

Drawing comparisons with Israel's "settler" tactics in the Palestinian Territories, Modi's Hindu nationalist government aims to change the demographic makeup and identity of the Muslim-majority region, critics say.

AFP looks at the background, what the new rules are and their implications for the area's 14 million population.

- What has Modi done in Kashmir so far? -


The Himalayan former princely state has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.

In the Indian-administered part a conflict between separatist rebels and government forces has killed tens of thousands since 1989, mostly civilians.

More than 65 percent of the population is Muslim. In the Kashmir Valley, the main centre of the rebellion, it is close to 100 percent.

On August 5, 2019 Modi's government revoked articles in the Indian constitution that guaranteed Kashmir's partial autonomy and other rights including its own flag and constitution.

A huge accompanying security operation saw tens of thousands of extra troops -- adding to 500,000 already there -- enforce a siege-like curfew. Thousands were arrested and telecommunications were cut for months.

Jammu & Kashmir state was demoted to a union territory governed directly from New Delhi, while the Ladakh region was carved out into a separate administrative area.

Creating such new "facts on the ground" in Kashmir has long been advocated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the hardline Hindu parent organisation to Modi's BJP party.

The move sent a further shudder through India's 200-million Muslim minority and defenders of its secular traditions, who fear Modi wants to create a Hindu nation -- something he denies.

"What I see unfolding is a Hindu settler colonial project in the making," Mona Bhan, associate professor of anthropology at Syracuse University who has long researched Kashmir, told AFP.

- What happened to Kashmir's special rules? -

Modi's government tore up Kashmir's special residence rules dating back to 1927 which had ensured only permanent residents could own land and property, secure government jobs and university places and vote in local elections.

Now a raft of different categories of people from anywhere in India can apply for domicile certificates, giving them access to all the above.

These include those living in Kashmir for 15 years, who include around 28,000 refugees who fled Pakistan and as many as 1.75 million migrant labourers -- most of whom are Hindus.

In addition, civil servants who have worked in Kashmir for seven years and their children, or students who have taken certain exams, also qualify for domicile status.

The changes are "the most drastic imposed since 1947," Siddiq Wahid, a historian and political analyst, told AFP. "It was done with the intent to open the gates to demographic flooding."

- What do locals have to do? -

Locals too now have to apply for the new "domicile certificates" in order to qualify for permanent resident rights.

To get this, they have to produce their Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC), cherished documents valid since 1927, which then become worthless.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, an engineering graduate said young Kashmiris were in effect being forced to give their political loyalty to India in exchange for a livelihood.

"They say, you want a job, OK, get the domicile document first," he said.

- Is anybody happy? -

A few people. Bahadur Lal Prajapati, born in Indian Kashmir to Hindu refugees who fled Pakistan during its first war with India over Kashmir seven decades ago, is finally an official resident and has "never been so happy".

"We got the right to live in this part of India as citizens after 72 years of struggle," Prajapati, 55, told AFP from his home in Jammu, the Hindu-dominated district of the region.

One of the first people to receive the new domicile certificate was Navin Kumar Choudhary, a top bureaucrat from the Indian state of Bihar who worked in Kashmir for many years.

Photos on social media of Choudhary proudly holding the certificate sparked huge anger among Kashmiris but delight among Modi's supporters.

- What happens if people complain? -

Some 430,000 new domicile certificates have been issued -- despite the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear how many of them are to people from outside and how many to locals.

Many locals are refusing to swap their old documents, even though this makes life harder. Some do it in secret for fear of censure from their neighbours.

Wary of being labelled "anti-national" by the authorities many Kashmiris are also scared to speak out openly. Some are deleting their Twitter accounts.

"It's a travesty that I have to compete with outsiders for citizenship rights in my own homeland," said a student -- who also wished also to remain anonymous out of fear of problems with the authorities./AFP

•             The US House of Representatives will vote on marijuana legalization in a month, Majority Whip James Clyburn confirmed Friday.

•             The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the controlled substances list, erase the criminal records of those with marijuana charges, and reinvest grants in community programs for people impacted by the war on drugs.

•             The criminalization of marijuana has led to the incarceration of tens of millions of people since the 1970s, a majority of them Black and Latinx.

•             With a Republican-majority in the Senate, some say the Act is not likely to pass.

The House of Representatives is set to vote on marijuana legalization on the federal level next month, Majority Whip James Clyburn announced Friday.

While individual states would have to vote on guidelines and legality, 11 states have already legalized marijuana within their borders.

If voted into effect, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would take marijuana off the list of illegal substances in the Controlled Substances Act. This is the first time Congress will vote on removing marijuana from the controlled substances act.

Additionally, the MORE act would erase the criminal records of those with marijuana charges — which have led to the incarceration of 8.2 million people between 2001 and 2010 who were predominantly Black and Latinx, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

People who were negatively impacted by the War on Drugs, declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, will have a chance to engage in programs funded by grants by the MORE Act to help reinvest in their futures.

According to an email Majority Whip Jim Clyburn's (D-S.C.) office, the vote will occur in September.

Communities of color have been devastated by the War on Drugs and criminalization of marijuana

Top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman admitted years after the War on Drugs was first declared that the criminalization of substances like marijuana and heroine was an intentional political strategy to disrupt communities.

"We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities," Ehrlichman said.

Millions have been incarceration on marijuana charges since the 1970s, a majority of them people of color. Experts say this has had a devastating impact on communities of color, from mass incarceration to police brutality.

"There's a direct throughline from our drug war policies to the botched no-knock arrest that killed Breonna Taylor," Natalie Papillion, Founder and Executive Director of The Equity Organization, wrote for Business Insider.

"It's no coincidence that a responding officer taunted the crowd by saying 'this is why you don't do drugs, kids' as Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd's neck."

Some say the act will likely not pass with the current Republican- majority Senate

While the MORE Act has a chance of passing through the House, political analysts are skeptical it will make it through the Senate because of its Republican majority.

At this week's Republican National convention, many Republican speakers spoke out against marijuana sales during the pandemic.


BRASILIA/POCONÉ, Brazil (Reuters) - In a dramatic u-turn, Brazil's Environment Ministry said on Friday it would continue to fight deforestation, reversing its position after saying hours earlier that it could not afford to continue enforcement efforts in the Amazon.

The ministry, through its enforcement arm Ibama and its parks service ICMBio, plays a vital role in combating deforestation with teams deployed on frequently dangerous missions to catch illegal loggers and miners in the world's largest rainforest.

So the original announcement on Friday afternoon that it would cease all operations from Monday came as a shock, especially amid rising deforestation and growing criticism of Brazil's environmental policy from environmental groups as well as international investors. Last year an area about the size of Lebanon was cleared in the Amazon.


The ministry cited a decision by Brazil's Federal Budget Secretariat (SOF), to block certain funds that had been allocated to Ibama and ICMBio. The ministry said the SOF's move ultimately was ordered by the office of the chief of staff for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

But Vice President Hamilton Mourão, who Bolsonaro has put in charge of Brazil's Amazon response, quickly denied the funds had been pulled. He accused Environment Minister Ricardo Salles of "jumping the gun."

"The minister jumped the gun, and that's not going to happen," he told journalists in Brasilia. "There will not be a blockage of 60 million reais ($11.1 million) dedicated to Ibama and ICMBio."

Mourão said the government was looking to take money out of almost every ministry to fund emergency aid payments Brazilians are receiving during the economic downturn brought about by the novel coronavirus pandemic. He said the Environment Ministry's announcement was based on an unfinalized planning document.

Later in the evening, the Environment Ministry officially reversed course.

"The Environment Ministry discloses that Ibama and ICMBio resources were unblocked this afternoon and, as a result, operations to combat illegal deforestation will continue normally," it said.

In the early days of August, the Columbia County School District outside Augusta, Georgia, was determined to open its schools.

Despite a regional surge of COVID-19 cases early that month, the system of 28,000 students was among the first districts in America to put people back in classrooms, on Aug. 3.

The reason was pretty straightforward, said Superintendent Sandra Carraway: The vast majority of Columbia County parents said they wanted schools open. Waiting wasn't going to make anything better, she added, and the district offered a learn-from-home option as an alternative.

"We're doing very well," Carraway said at the end of the third week of classes.

Many teachers disagree. Forty-six students and 28 staff have tested positive for the virus, and 542 people have had to quarantine since school started, according to district figures as of Aug. 21. Teachers are trying to juggle students who come to school, those who opted for virtual learning, and those lost in the middle because of quarantine or because their parents switched them from in-person to virtual as outbreaks sprang up.

In-person school reopenings have been pushed by President Donald Trump, Republican politicians and many parents. But the experience of Columbia County and other districts that opened buildings this month shows a more complicated reality.

In many of these districts, large percentages of children are actually learning at home — because their parents chose virtual learning or because of a quarantine. Hybrid schedules also keep children at home on specific days or weeks.

"The reality is there is no one solution that fits everyone," said Cindy Mitchell, a parent of three children in Columbia County, all of whom are learning from home. She said she's acted as a whistleblower of sorts on behalf of local teachers who fear retribution from the district if they speak publicly about lax safety protocols and disorganization in reopening.

For example, staff and teachers are often confused about who's infected and who's merely under quarantine. Until recently, Columbia County administrators only alerted certain people to the cases. Some teachers told USA TODAY they only found out students in their classrooms had tested positive once parents posted the administrative notice they received to a Facebook group.

"Tracking attendance is a huge problem," said Judie Stork, a Spanish teacher at Lakeside High School in Columbia County.

Because kids keep moving around and class sizes keep changing, Stork sometimes teaches up to 20 students inside a modular trailer. Social distancing is difficult.

"It worries me that we're not always able to skip desks because of the numbers in some classes," she said.

'Boom — you get shut down'

The rest of America's schools will lurch into a new pandemic school year over the next few weeks.

Among urban districts, almost 80% will open remote-only, according to a new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, an education research organization in Washington. Those districts often serve communities of color, which have been disproportionately hammered by the virus. Polling shows many Black parents would prefer to learn from home.

In the suburbs, there's more support for in-person learning: Only about 34% of suburban districts plan to start remote-only, according to the center's report.

Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, has said reopening schools is best for kids, but districts shouldn't bring people together if the rate of local positive virus cases exceeds 10%.

"You go in, people get infected, and — boom — you get shut down," Fauci said in a webinar hosted by Healthline, a medical news website.

That's been the problem in Georgia.

Columbia County had a 12.6% positive rate among coronavirus tests as of Aug. 24.

The state has the second-highest rate of new COVID-19 infections, according to the latest White House coronavirus task force report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other news sites. That's actually an improvement. Georgia has dropped to 167 infections for every 100,000 people, from a previous 216. The national average is 93.

Georgia schools made headlines for other high-profile coronavirus outbreaks this month. The Cherokee County School District north of Atlanta had to quarantine hundreds of students after an outbreak, a number that grew to more than 2,000. In Dallas, Georgia, a photo of maskless high school students in hallways went viral. Days later, the high school had to temporarily shut down because of positive cases among students and staff.

Georgia's largest school district, Gwinnett County Schools, quarantined hundreds of employees even before students returned Aug. 12 because of an outbreak among staff during in-person planning.

In Columbia County, middle and high school students are required to wear masks during passing periods and when social distancing isn't possible. Some teachers told USA TODAY they can't do anything if students let them dangle or take them off in class.

Elementary school students, who have returned for in-person instruction five days a week, are not required to wear masks.

"Initially, we received no guidance that suggested they should," Carraway said.

In late July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended students wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently in reopened schools.

Hundreds in quarantine

Teachers and students in reopened schools across the country are navigating new safety protocols.

"It's a challenge for everyone involved," said Tanya Hickson, a math teacher at Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, which opened Aug. 20. She posted a photo on Twitter of plexiglass dividers between closely packed student desks.

But the district requires masks, and students are good about wearing them, she said.

About 500 of the 1,200 students at Hickson's magnet school, Darnell-Cookman Middle-High School, have elected to return for a mix of in-person and at-home learning. The other students are learning virtually.

"I’m happy to see the faces of old students and get to know new students," Hickson said. "But it’s a lot of anxiety. It’s hard to not express that in front of the kids."

The risks of an outbreak are real.

In Tennessee, 97 virus cases were linked to the 109 districts that had started the year as of Aug. 13, most with in-person instruction.

In Florida, Martin County Schools sent more than 300 students home to quarantine because of virus cases within the first two weeks of school. Seminole County schools quarantined 175 students and staff after being open less than two weeks, the Orlando Sentinel reported. A minority of students in that district — 44% — are coming to in-person classes because of safety concerns.

Several schools in Indiana opened for in-person instruction and then shut down temporarily because of outbreaks. Avon Community Schools outside of Indianapolis opened July 29, only to revert to online learning for high school students because of positive cases. The school is now using both in-person and online learning, with students alternating between the two to reduce class sizes.

"You’re trying to keep track of kids who are COVID-positive, because they need lessons," said Suzy Lebo, a computer science teacher at Avon High School. "You’re also providing lessons to in-person people. And now we have kids dropping in-person and going to virtual because of situations happening at the school."

"There's a lot of fluidity."

Maskless students, missing students

Georgia was the first state to reopen its businesses, on April 24, and its governor has actively fought a mask mandate.

In Columbia County, as COVID-19 cases increased this summer, the number of parents that elected to have their kids learn in-person dropped from 85% to about 75%, according to the district.

Carraway, the superintendent, said the number of parents choosing in-person learning has remained steady since school started. Some teachers told USA TODAY dozens of their school's students have switched to learn-from-home; others reported just a couple have switched.

The logistics of attendance, class sizes and scheduling have challenged teachers at the middle and high schools. To enable social distancing, students attending in-person come every other day, according to where their name falls in the alphabet. But that hasn't made for an even split; a teacher may have seven students in class one day and the other 18 classmates the next.

Rosters are constantly changing. It's not always clear if a child is absent from in-person class because he or she is sick, or quarantining, or has switched from in-person learning to online classes and is therefore learning from a different teacher. Teachers say they wonder if some absent students have even been in touch with an instructor.

Carraway said they expected virus cases, but that parents wanted in-person learning, and science shows being in school is best for kids. The dissatisfied teachers are not representative of the district, she said. Many have reached out to share their approval.

Jannette Thomas, a science teacher at Grove Town High School, said all her students keep their masks on, and she has a large room that lets everyone spread out.

"Things are not utopia," added Danielle Starcher, a music teacher at River Ridge Elementary who travels room to room now, tapping out beats with children on disposable paper plates or plastic cups rather than shared instruments.

"Given the circumstances, we’re stepping up to the plate and doing the best we can."

Carraway added that older students are likely being more responsible wearing masks and sitting separately during lunch in school than they would be if they were learning from home.

"The vast majority of people are going out and doing things, and schools are probably the safest place students can be outside of isolation," she said.

Many Columbia County parents say they're happy schools are open. In fact, Caroline Washburn, a mother of daughters in middle and high school, said she wishes they could go every day.

Local private schools are providing instruction five days a week at all grade levels, which Washburn said she and her husband would prefer.

"When you go back to school, you’re going to have a rise in cases," Washburn said. "I’m hopeful that after the holidays, we do go back to a full-time attendance schedule. I can’t imagine this being the new normal."

A different approach next door

Next door, the Richmond County School District in Augusta is still waiting to open its schools.

More than 84% of the district's approximate 30,000 students are people of color, predominantly Black students. The rate of positive COVID-19 tests is currently 15.9% — well into the zone Fauci suggested would not be safe for reopening schools.

Already, 89 Richmond County employees have contracted the virus, according to the district. Two have died. The school board will decide on Sept. 1. whether students who wish to return face-to-face will be allowed to on Sept. 8, or if all children will start remotely instead, according to Richmond County school officials.

Whenver Richmond opens for in-person instruction, more than half of students won't be there. About 54% of parents have signaled they want to virtual instruction, according to the district.

Wayne Frazier, a Richmond County school board member and former school principal, said that's a good development, as there will be more space for kids to spread out in school buildings.

"We have a lot of single parents and a lot of working parents," Frazier said. "No answer is going to fit everyone."

One of those single, working parents is Mary Morning, who lives in Augusta and has two boys headed into fifth and sixth grades. Even though her younger son has special learning needs and she'll have to work from home again to monitor their progress, Morning thinks virtual education is the safer choice.

She regrets they'll miss orchestra and school sports teams, though.

"It's a lose-lose decision," she said.

Children can carry coronavirus in their noses for up to three weeks, according to a South Korean study.

As children prepare to return to school this latest study could shed some light on how likely children are to spread the virus to others.

Previous studies have found the vast majority of children with the virus have mild or no symptoms.

This study, based on 91 children at hospitals and isolation facilities across South Korea between February and March, found that even among those with few or no symptoms, the virus could be found in their swabs as much as three weeks later. All of the children recovered from the virus.


Once the researchers had identified and isolated cases, the patients were repeatedly tested until the virus had cleared.

Because South Korea has carried out mass testing, including of people without symptoms, and tracked and isolated confirmed cases, the scientists had a rare opportunity to monitor children with mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

The researchers said their data suggests that 93% of the children with Covid-19 in South Korea could have been missed “were it not for Korea’s intensive contact tracing and aggressive diagnostic testing”.

Cases of children with undetected Covid-19 are “worrisome”, they said, because these children could “facilitate the rapid spread” of the virus in the community.  

The fact they had detectable virus in their noses, the authors concluded, suggested they were capable of passing it on.

The scientists concluded that screening for symptoms fails to identify most Covid-19 cases in children and the virus is detected for an “unexpectedly long time”.

But the scientists said the “major limitation” of the study was they were not able to measure how infectious the children were and when in the cycle of the disease they were most likely to spread the virus, mainly because of South Korea’s strict quarantine and isolation strategies which minimise exposure to vulnerable people./The Telegraph


Turkey on Saturday vehemently condemned an Islamophobic incident in Sweden where a group of neo-fascist politicians burned the Muslim holy book Quran.

"We strongly condemn the hideous provocations by an Islamophobic and racist politician and his followers who came to Denmark from Sweden's Malmo city,” Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the anti-Islamic group Tight Direction (Stram Kurs), along with his supporters burned the Quran on Friday evening.

After the footage emerged on the internet, anti-racist groups in Malmo reacted to the incident and the activists who blocked the traffic and burned tires on the road.

The police detained three people who burned the Quran.

Danish racist leader Paludan was banned from entering Sweden for two years.

“These provocative acts are a heavy blow to the culture of coexistence and European values,” the Foreign Ministry statement added.

Stressing that Muslims living in Europe have been systematically exposed to discriminatory and racist attitudes in their daily lives, the statement said: “This despicable act against our holy book is an exemplary act, as it reveals the extent to which the threat Muslims face in Europe has come.”

The statement also underscored that the Swedish authorities did not allow the demonstration against the Quran and imposed a ban on the so-called politician on Aug. 28.

The ministry further said that the Swedish authorities should take all necessary measures against those who act to provoke Muslims in the country in the future.