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Pope Francis to get COVID-19 vaccine next week

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Pope Francis says that he will soon receive a coronavirus vaccination, perhaps as early as next week, while calling the inoculation a duty for everyone.

“I believe that ethically everyone needs to receive the vaccine,” Francis said in an interview with Italy’s TG5 that will air Sunday.

Francis did not specify the exact timing of his inoculation, but the pontiff said the Vatican’s vaccine rollout will begin next week and that he had already booked an appointment.

Francis’s plan sends a significant pro-vaccine signal to the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics. But it also marks a crucial step in safeguarding an 84-year-old who is missing part of a lung, doesn’t like to wear a mask and relishes face-to-face interaction.

Vatican watchers had widely anticipated that Francis would be administered the jab, and he has spoken favorably for months about the international vaccine effort, calling it a light of hope “in this time of darkness.”

Until now, though, the Vatican had remained vague on its vaccine plans for the pope. The Holy See only said that its campaign would first target the elderly, medical personnel, and those most in contact with the public

The Vatican’s health director said the city-state would be using the vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.

Francis suggested his own perspective on vaccines had been shaped by childhood memories of polio, when “so many kids ended up paralyzed because of this and there was a desperation to receive the vaccine.”

“I don’t know why some will say, ‘No, the vaccine is dangerous.’” Francis said.

“But if doctors offer it to you as something that can work, that poses no special risk, why not take it? There is a suicidal denialism that I wouldn’t know how to explain, but today you need to take the vaccine.”

The journalist who conducted the Friday interview of the pope, Fabio Marchese Ragona, shared a passage of the transcript with The Washington Post.

Almost since the beginning of the pandemic, Francis seemed to have the vaccine on his radar.

In May, he said that the search for vaccines should be “transparent and selfless.”

And he has said several times that leaders must ensure that vaccines are provided to the poor, the sick and the vulnerable.

Once fully vaccinated with the two doses, Francis — and the church — will still have to behave cautiously.

Medical experts say even those vaccinated should wear a mask. But the pontiff can more easily resume some of the activities that have been on hold for nearly a year, like international travel.

Francis is planning a trip in early March to Iraq, what will be his first venture outside of Italy since the start of the pandemic.

Francis, who complained of feeling “caged” during Italy’s initial spring lockdown, has made it clear that he does not want to be a Zoom-only pope.

As that initial clampdown loosened, Francis tried to reclaim the parts of his papacy he seemed to miss the most, mixing to a greater degree with crowds and meeting with pilgrims. Even amid Europe’s second wave, Francis has continued to host groups and hold in-person meetings.

Francis’s resistance to mask-wearing has perplexed some inside the church, and by forgoing masks in meetings he is bucking the Vatican’s own safety protocols.

Neither he nor the Vatican has offered an explanation for his decision to generally go mask-free.

– Washington Post

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Kelechi Iheanacho set to join Chelsea

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Leicester City striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, is set to join Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea this summer.

According to Spanish publications, Fichajes, Tuchel is very convinced in the ability of Iheanacho to improve his team’s attack next season.

Iheanacho is one name being considered by Tuchel at Stamford Bridge should the west London club miss out on signing Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland this summer transfer window.

Tuchel is impressed with the talents of the Nigerian international, who is one of the most in-form strikers in England currently.

The report added that Tuchel is not the biggest fan of Chelsea striker, Tammy Abraham, with the ex-PSG manager leaving the England international out of Chelsea’s starting XI a few times in recent weeks.

Chelsea are also open to the possibility of striker, Olivier Giroud, leaving the Blues at the end of the season.

Iheanacho has so far scored 15 goals in 31 appearances for Leicester City this season.

The 24-year-old joined Leicester City from Manchester City for £24 million in 2017.

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NURTW moves against highway crime, adopts vehicle e-tracking

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The National Union of Road Transport Workers says it will track members’ vehicles electronically as a way to address the spate of kidnapping and insecurity on expressways.

The union, during the National Executive Council meeting in Osogbo, Osun State capital, said it was imperative for them to use electronic tracking device in curbing the menace of kidnapping and insecurity on expressways in the country.

President of the union, Alhaji Tajudeen Baruwa, said the NURTW had lost many members to banditry while many were kidnapped.

He said, “We have resolved to use tracking to monitor our members’ vehicles. This will help us to alert our members of impending dangers.

“We admonish our members to be security conscious; the issue of insecurity in the country is worrisome. Many times our members are been kidnapped across the country, we have lost many members as a result of insecurity and there is no compensation from the government. So we really need to be careful and vigilant when we are on the steering. E-tracking will help passengers and our members after we put it to use”.

Baruwa thanked members for their support and confidence in his administration.

He said the administration was faced with serious financial challenges and the emergence of the COVID19 affected their revenue, adding that it was a miracle to have survived the devastating effects of the lockdown.

 

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EFCC arrests, grills ex-Imo governor, Okorocha

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha.

He was arrested in Abuja and was later questioned by the EFCC over issues bothering on alleged corruption.

Okorocha, currently representing Imo West at the Senate, was grilled at the EFCC Abuja office on Tuesday.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the development but did not give further details.

 “It is true, he was arrested today in Abuja but we are not giving details,” he said.

Okorocha had been accused by the Imo government of looting the state’s treasury through various malpractices.

He was in February arrested by police from the Imo State Command for allegedly unsealing Spring Palm Estate linked to his wife, Nkechi.

Okorocha was later released but about 14 of his loyalists are being tried.

The Imo State Government had sealed the Spring Palm Estate and other properties claimed to have been “diverted” by Okorocha and his family members.

But the Senator said the properties were legitimately by him and his family members.

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