More restrictions as Covid-19 cases continue to rise
The Kathmandu Post | 17th January
The government has decided to shut various public services and amenities until January 29 in view of the rising coronavirus cases. The new restrictions have been issued as per the “Directive on the Prevention and Control of the Omicron-driven Third Wave-2022”. On Friday, government spokesperson Gyanendra Bahadur Karki read out a list of orders aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.

India offers a credit line of USD 500 mn to Sri Lanka for purchase of fuel
Colombo Page | 18th January
India has offered a new Line of Credit (LOC) of USD 500 million to Sri Lanka for purchase of petroleum products.
Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar extended this critical support in his letter addressed to the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Prof. G.L. Peiris, the High Commission of India in Colombo said in a release.

Pakistan, Russia eye new partnership
The Nation | 21st January
Pakistan and Russia are eyeing a new partnership as Islamabad and Moscow get closer after decades of trust deficit amid the cold war.  Prime Minister Imran Khan, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the telephone this week, is expected to hold a face-to-face meeting with the Russian leader in China next month on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics where they will be together along with the Chinese leadership.

AFGHANISTAN

All you need to know about IEA’s first Economic Conference in Kabul: report
​​​​​The Khaama Press | 19th January
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan convened their first-ever Economic Conference that was attended by high-ranking officials of the IEA and representatives of 80 countries both in-person and online.
The conference was named “Economy of Afghanistan”, was held in the office of the Prime Minister (ARG), and was telecast live on the state-run RTA channel on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

Taliban approve Pakistan-Afghanistan rail link
Afghanistan Times | 19th January
The Taliban-led government gave its approval for a railway link between Afghanistan and Pakistan, greenlighting rail links between the cities of Peshawar and Kabul and Peshawar and Jalalabad.
Approval for a rail link with Uzbekistan was also given. The cabinet of the new government, during the meeting, also approved a rail link between Jalalabad and the capital Kabul.
The cabinet meeting was presided by Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund.

EU reopens embasy in Afghanistan: IEA
The Khaama Press | 21st January
Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, January 20 announced that European Union officially reopened its diplomatic office in Kabul.
Spokesman of the Ministry Abdul Qahar Balkhi on the Twitter post said that the EU’s diplomatic office has officially resumed its operations in Afghanistan.
“Following consecutive meetings and reaching an understanding with EU representatives, the European Union officially opened its embassy with a permanent presence in Kabul and practically commenced operations.” Reads the Twitter post.
 

BANGLADESH

Bangladesh reports 10,884 more Covid cases, positivity rate tops 26pc
Prothom Alo | 20th January
Bangladesh reported 10,888 fresh cases with four deaths in 24 hours until Thursday morning marking a sharp rise in its infection rate, reports UNB.
The positivity rate in the country further increased to 26.37 per cent from Wednesday’s 25.11 per cent after testing 40,898 samples, according to the Directorate general of health Services (DGHS).
Bangladesh last logged 10,420 cases and 237 deaths on August 11, last year with a positivity rate of 23.45 per cent in 24 hours.

Iraq keen to boost trade, investment in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Post | 20th January
Iraq has expressed its interest to boost trade and investment with Bangladesh and renew the trade agreements between the two countries.
Iraqi Ambassador to Bangladesh Abdulsalam Saddam Mohaimsen expressed interest at a meeting with Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi at his official residence.
The ambassador also invited the Commerce Minister to visit Iraq at a convenient time to discuss trade and investment issues.

First shipment of Johnson’s single-dose Covid vaccine arrives
Dhaka Tribune | 20th January
Bangladesh has received 336,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccines under the Covax scheme.
The shipment from the US has arrived Dhaka on Thursday, Dr Shamsul Haque, the member secretary of the heath directorate’s Vaccine Deployment Committee, told the media. 
 

BHUTAN

Lockdown extends in seven dzongkhags until Jan 30
Kuensel | 20th January
The National Covid-19 task force has extended lockdown in Sarpang, Samdrupjongkhar, and identified areas of Wangduephodrang and Punakha, Panbang, Nganglam and Phuentsholing that are declared red zones, until January 30.
Parts of Kawang and Chang gewogs, and Thimphu thromde; and Paro throm and adjacent gewogs are declared as yellow and will continue with the existing zoning system until January 30, according to a notification from the Prime Minister’s Office issues yesterday.

Online businesses are becoming more and more popular in Bhutan
Daily Bhutan | 20th January
According to Asian Development Bank, Bhutan is one of the fastest developing countries in the world with an average economic growth of 7.5% in 2017. Bhutan’s development plans are guided by the Gross National Happiness (GNH) approach, where all development policies must align to the tenets of GNH. Since 1961, Bhutan has adopted the tradition of implementing five-year plans. 
 

MALDIVES 

Covid-19 situation worsens in Maldives
The Edition | 18th January
Health Protection Agency (HPA) has announced that Maldives' Covid-19 situation is back at Red Alert status as the number of Covid cases increase.
Maldives uses four colours to indicate the seriousness of the Covid cases in the country at any given point; white, yellow, orange, and red. As over 1,400 positive cases were recorded on Monday evening, HPA has started to use red colour to indicate seriousness.

MMPRC takes part in FITUR 2022 – one of the biggest trade fairs in Spain
Sun | 19th January
Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and additional representatives of the Maldivian tourism sector are marketing Maldives at FITUR 2020 - one of the biggest global trade fairs in Spain. 
FITUR 2022, underway in Madrid from January 19-23, is the global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade fair for inbound and outbound markets. 
 

MYANMAR

Myanmar Junta Reports 118 Omicron Cases
The Irrawaddy | 20th January
More than 100 cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been recorded in Myanmar since late December, according to the junta-controlled Ministry of Health.
Four citizens who returned from Dubai tested positive with Omicron on Dec. 28 and 114 more cases were recorded by Thursday, the regime said.
Dr. Than Soe Naing of the ministry’s health promotion department told The Irrawaddy: “Most of the cases were imported. It is very unlikely that it will spread domestically. Only two family members [of a returnee] have the virus. It is very unlikely they transmitted it to others. The situation is under control.”

UN Envoy, Thai Leader Hold Talks on Myanmar
The Irrawaddy | 18th January
The UN secretary-general’s special envoy on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, held talks with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Bangkok on Monday to discuss the situation in Myanmar.
The meeting was held to coordinate and solicit support for international efforts to help displaced people and press Myanmar’s junta to commit to ASEAN’s five-point peace plan.
 

NEPAL

UNICEF lauds Nepal for significant progress in nutrition of mothers, children at risk
The Himalayan Times | 21st January
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said that Nepal has made significant progress in nutrition of mothers and children at risk due to current inequities and COVID-19 pandemic.
Nepal achieved globally renowned progress in reducing child stunting and scaling up nutrition services during the Millennium Development Goals era (2002 -2016), despite periods of political and economic instability, according to a special supplement of the Maternal and Child Nutrition Journal published on Thursday.

Nepal-Israel JWT to be formed
The Himalayan Times | 19th January
The government of Nepal and the government of the State of Israel have decided to establish a joint working team (JWT) to prepare a bilateral agreement for sending Nepali nationals to work in construction sector in Israel.
The decision came after a constructive dialogue between Foreign Affairs Minister Narayan Khadka and Hanan Goder-Goldberger, ambassador of Israel to Nepal, as per a media release.
 

PAKISTAN

Positivity crosses 11pc, over 6,800 cases reported in a day
Dawn | 21st January
Pakistan reported over 6,800 fresh cases of Covid-19, the second highest number of cases reported in a single day since the pandemic began in 2020.
Over the past 24 hours, the number of cases surged to 6,808, second only to the 6,825 cases reported on June 14, 2020.
The national positivity rate has crossed 11.55 per cent. For context, the last time the rate entered double figures was on April 26, 2021, when it reached 10pc. Before this, the positivity rate had crossed the 11pc mark in July 2020.

China quashes disinformation about CPEC slowdown
The Express Tribune | 21st January
Beijing said on Thursday the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework was moving forward against a headwind posed by Covid-19 pandemic and promoting economic development and people’s livelihood in Pakistan.
Speaking at a regular briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian rejected reports that the work on the CPEC, a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), had slowed down over the past three and half a year.
 

SRI LANKA

Japan grants equipment worth Rs. 400 million to Sri Lanka hospitals
Colombo Page | 20th January
Aiming to further strengthen the health service in Sri Lanka, The Government of Japan under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assistance has provided Rs. 400 million worth medical equipment to nine hospitals in the country.
Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka Mizukoshi Hideaki Wednesday presented the stock of essential medical equipment to strengthen COVID-19 response to Keheliya Rambukwella, the Minister of Health, in the presence of Takashima Kiyofumi, Senior Representative of JICA.

S. Korean govt. assistance to promote job creation
Daily Mirror | 21st January
The South Korean government will support efforts to promote job creation, vocational training, and investment opportunities, National Assembly of South Korea Speaker Park Byeong-Seug said.
He made these remarks when he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (20).
The President said there is ample scope for investment opportunities in Sri Lanka due to its strategic location in the region, and requested Mr. Park Geung-seog to encourage leading Korean companies to explore investment opportunities.

 

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