2020-03-31 02:57:20 57017040 New Israeli research says COVID-19 is here to stay Researchers suggest unlike SARS, MERS coronavirus strains which were successfully contained during 2004 and 2018 outbreaks respectively, COVID-19 may become perennial danger Ynet https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57017040,00.html Wed, 25 Mar 2020 22:29:32 +03:00 The novel coronavirus is not going anywhere anytime soon, suggests new research conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which centered on the study of the new virus’ structure. According to the findings, there is no guarantee that a medicine that has previously proven effective against other viruses hailing from the coronavirus family (such as SARS or MERS) will treat this latest strain as effectively. Prof. Michal Linial, professor of biological chemistry at the university, together with Dr. Dina Schneidman from the Department of Biological Chemistry and the School of Computer Science at the Hebrew University and Postdoctoral Intern Ester Brail, said that each strain of the virus holds different “offensive capabilities” used to bind itself with human receptors, while the method of binding varies from virus to virus. The researchers claim that this new virus strain, named COVID-19, bears a striking 72.8% resemblance in structure to the SARS strain, and so the researchers tested the way in which COVID-19 attaches itself to the ACE2 enzyme, which is part of almost every cell in the human body and is known to serve as an entry point for the SARS virus. According to the research, SARS attaches itself to human cells in such a way that researchers found easy to break using medicine. Unlike SARS, the COVID-19 strain attaches itself to human cells in a much more aggressive manner, meaning that its removal from a cell is much harder when compared to SARS. Due to that fact, researchers and doctors will find it substantially more difficult to develop a cure for this latest coronavirus strain, meaning that a cure could still be a ways off. Furthermore, the researchers believe that even after a vaccine is developed, COVID-19 will still be a part of our everyday life. “Once a vaccination is found, those who will vaccinate themselves will be immune to the disease, while those who won't, will continue to spread it,” said Prof. Linial. “I assume that in the future >Due to that fact, researchers and doctors will find it substantially more difficult to develop a cure for this latest coronavirus strain, meaning that a cure could still be a ways off.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6245182> </p><p>Furthermore, the researchers believe that even after a vaccine is developed, COVID-19 will still be a part of our everyday life.</p> <p>“Once a vaccination is found, those who will vaccinate themselves will be immune to the disease, while those who won't, will continue to spread it,” said Prof. Linial. “I assume that in the future when we will understand the virus’ effects on our immune system better, a vaccination will be given at schools or in any other way in order to protect us from our new "friend”."</p> <p>“unlike the SARS and MERS strains of the coronavirus which disappeared rather quickly in 2004 and 2018 respectively, we will live knowing that this new strain isn't going anywhere anytime soon,” said Prof. Linial. “Not unlike other viruses we live with, you have to know your enemy and eventually make peace.”</p> message 57015390 Israeli champion runs marathon in living room amid coronavirus Gazcho Fanta says the idea came to him while pondering how he would continue his training regime under a lockdown enforced to fight COVID-19 spread; adds he was not satisfied with end time, promising to improve Oran Aharoni https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57015390,00.html Wed, 25 Mar 2020 16:56:24 +03:00 The latest restrictions put in place by the government to fight coronavirus put Israel's athletes in a desperate situation, causing some to come up with creative solutions to maintain their training regime. Israeli marathon runner Gazcho Fanta took those efforts to the extreme by deciding to run the 42 km (26 miles) race in his living room. Fanta, who holds the Israeli record for the 50 km run (31 miles), completed the marathon while running from one side of his 7.90-meter living room to the other He completed the feat in 3:50:14 hours and it took the runner some 5,349 laps around the room, at an average pace of 5:27 minutes per kilometer, to finish the task. "It was quite a challenge," said Fanta after finishing his run. "I wanted to show people that even if you can't run outside, you can still do it at home ... it's all in your head. "The first 20 km were crazy hard, but I know I had to do it and after a while, got used to the furniture and the walls. What helped was that I had music playing in the background. I was starting to hallucinate, but I knew I had a goal. There were moments I told myself 'why am I doing this?'" Fanta said the idea came to him while running outside. He wondered what it would be like to run a marathon while you're under lockdown, which has been partially imposed in Israel as a measure to fight the health crisis. He said a video he saw online of a man who ran a marathon on his porch, gave him the inspiration. He added, however, he was not satisfied with his result. "At the marathon in Berlin, I crossed the finish line after 2:20:16 hours," he said. "If the lockdown continues, I'm going to need to do this again to improve my time." message 57008770 Olympics postponement is about saving lives, says IOC chief Thomas Bach says the recent numbers regarding the coronavirus have left the committee 'little choice but to delay'; says officials are working for a replacement date despite hefty price tag involved Reuters https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57008770,00.html Tue, 24 Mar 2020 17:37:55 +03:00 International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach said on Tuesday that he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not discuss the cost of postponing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to 2021 due to the coronavirus as it is a matter of saving lives. The July 24-Aug. 9 event will be rescheduled for the summer of 2021 at the latest, as proof of victory over the coronavirus, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizers said in a joint statement, after an agreement between Bach and Abe. "This is about protecting lives," Bach told a conference call after his call with Abe triggered the first postponement of the Olympic Games in their 124-year history. The precise dates for the new Games have not yet been determined, Bach said. "About two hours after my phone call I cannot give you a definite answer. "These are the reasons why we had decided we need at least four weeks to assess all these questions... These are not the only ones," Bach added on a phone call with journalists. The IOC, who had long insisted the Games would go ahead as planned, said on Sunday it was considering the option of postponement with a four-week consultation period. But mounting opposition from athletes and teams over participating in Tokyo this year due to huge problems preparing themselves piled more pressure on the IOC. Bach said alarming figures about the spread of the virus in recent days had left little choice in the matter. "We agreed given these circumstances that the Games must be rescheduled to a later date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021," he said. The IOC and organizers are now faced with a massive undertaking of rescheduling the Games that has a multitude of moving parts with 33 sports involved and an additional price tag to the $12 billion already spent by Tokyo for the Olympics. Bach said the IOC's coordination commission had already started work on this project and it would work towards determining new dates. The coronavirus outbreak has raged around the world since early this year later date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021," he said.</p> <p>The IOC and organizers are now faced with a massive undertaking of rescheduling the Games that has a multitude of moving parts with 33 sports involved and an additional price tag to the $12 billion already spent by Tokyo for the Olympics.</p> <p>Bach said the IOC's coordination commission had already started work on this project and it would work towards determining new dates.</p> <p>The coronavirus outbreak has raged around the world since early this year, infecting nearly 380,000 people and wrecking sports events from the European soccer championships to Formula One motor racing.</p> <p>Despite their disappointment and the logistical headaches and financial losses involved, a poll indicated that about 70% of Japanese agreed with the delay.&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 57008700 Tokyo Games moved to 2021 to be 'light at the end of pandemic tunnel' IOC and Japan agree to delay Olympics to next year for first time in competition's 124-year history; Japanese PM Abe says 2021 Games will prove coronavirus has been beaten Reuters https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57008700,00.html Tue, 24 Mar 2020 17:24:29 +03:00 TOKYO/ATHENS - The Tokyo Olympics were postponed on Tuesday to 2021, the first such delay in the Games' 124-year modern history, as the coronavirus crisis wrecked the last international sporting showpiece still standing this year. Though a huge blow to Japan, which has invested $12 billion in the run-up, the decision was a relief to thousands of athletes fretting over how to train as the world headed into lockdown to fight a disease that has claimed more than 16,500 lives. Pressure had been building on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president, Thomas Bach, with some athletes and sporting bodies angry that a seemingly inevitable decision had taken so long. After a call between Bach and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, both parties said the July 24-Aug. 9 Games would be moved to the summer of 2021, to be a celebration of triumph over the coronavirus. The Olympic flame, already lit at Olympia in Greece and carried around Japan in a now-cancelled torch relay, would stay in the host nation until then as a symbol of hope. "This Olympic flame will be the light at the end of this tunnel," Bach said. An "unprecedented challenge for mankind" had inevitably led to an unprecedented challenge for the Games. Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori promptly sent a simple tweet of four pairs of hands held together in prayer, an emoji for "thank you." Though it was the first Olympics' postponement, they were cancelled outright three times during the two 20th century World Wars. Major Cold War boycotts also disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984. Bach, who last week was still planning to take four weeks to deliberate on a postponement, said it was still too early to set a new date for the Games. Athletes sad but relieved Athletes were disappointed but broadly endorsed the delay, given health risks and disruption to their training as gyms, stadia and swimming pools shut down around the world. "I compete in a little bike race, which is nothi Cold War boycotts also disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984.</p> <p>Bach, who last week was still planning to take four weeks to deliberate on a postponement, said it was still too early to set a new date for the Games.</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">Athletes sad but relieved </h3> <p>Athletes were disappointed but broadly endorsed the delay, given health risks and disruption to their training as gyms, stadia and swimming pools shut down around the world.</p> <p>"I compete in a little bike race, which is nothing compared to what is going on in the world right now," American Olympic BMX champion Connor Fields said, before the official announcement. "No sport is more important if it means more people might potentially die from this."</p> <p>Australian double Olympic champion swimmer Cate Campbell said she was reeling but ready for the new challenge.</p> <p>"The goalposts haven't disappeared - just shifted," she said, after Australia had said it would not go to Tokyo 2020 if it went ahead.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6227142> </p><p>U.S. skateboarder and gold medal hopeful Nyjah Huston was frustrated, though, especially as his sport was scheduled to make its debut at the Tokyo.</p> <p>"When skating finally makes it in the Olympics then it gets postponed," the 25-year-old wrote on Instagram, after a delay had begun to look inevitable. "I was feelin [sic] ready too ... now I'm going to have to be a year older for this!"</p> <p>The coronavirus outbreak has raged around the world since early this year, infecting nearly 380,000 people and wrecking sports events from the European soccer championships to Formula One motor racing.</p> <p>Despite their disappointment, not to mention the logistical headaches and financial losses coming, a poll indicated that about 70% of Japanese agreed with a delay.</p> <p>Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters the delayed Games would still be branded "Tokyo 2020."&nbsp;</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">Jumper with no sandpit </h3> <p>In a crowded sporting calendar, which will be making up for this year's cancellations, World Athletics said it was willing to move its world championships, scheduled for Aug. 6-15, 2021, in Oregon, to clear a path for the Olympics.</p> <p>The Athletics Association said a poll of more than 4,000 track and field competitors had indicated that 78% had wanted the Games to be delayed.</p> <p>The association's American founder, twice Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor, is among athletes unable to train due to social distancing and closure of facilities.</p> <p>"There is no sandpit for me, I have not put on jump spikes for two weeks," he told Britain's Times newspaper.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6227143> </p><p>Tuesday's decision came 122 days before the planned opening ceremony at Japan's newly built National Stadium, which was to usher in the 16-day carnival of sport featuring 11,000 athletes from 206 nations and territories.</p> <p>It is not the first time a Japanese Olympics has run into problems. Both the 1940 Summer and Winter Olympic Games were due to be held in Japan but were cancelled due to World War Two.</p> <p>It was not yet clear whether the athletes who had already secured spots in Tokyo this summer - more than half of those due to compete - would need to qualify again.</p> <p>The postponement is a deep disappointment for Japan's prime minister, who has staked his legacy on the Games' success and hoped it would bring a tourism and consumer boom. Such was his enthusiasm that he appeared as video game character Super Mario at the 2016 Olympics' closing ceremony.</p> <p>Postponing the Olympics is also a heavy blow that is almost certain to push Japan's persistently weak economy, the world's third-largest, into recession.</p> <p>IOC boss Bach is also in a tricky situation, after his repeated statements that the Games were on track brought a backlash from athletes and some national Olympic committees.</p> <p>That, combi message 56997440 Eden Alene to represent Israel at next year's Eurovision Israel's first ever contestant of Ethiopian descent vows to win Eurovision Song Contest 2021 after being told she's going to represent the nation next year after this year's event was cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak Ynet https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56997440,00.html Sun, 22 Mar 2020 19:22:1 +03:00 Eden Alene, who was set to represent Israel at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, which was cancelled due to coronavirus crisis, will officially represent the country at the prestigious competition next year. The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest that was set to take place on May 12 in the Netherlands, was cancelled last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN), which is responsible for all things Eurovision in Israel, announced the decision during a live interview with the 19-year-old contestant. "What a joy, thank you! We're going to win," said Alene after hearing the news. The song, however, which was chosen to represent the country this year cannot be performed at Eurovision 2021, according to The European Broadcasting Union's rules. The song, "Feker Libi," premiered less than three weeks ago and has been hailed as the potential frontrunner to take the top spot at this year's event. Alene, Israel's first ever Ethiopian contestant to represent the nation at Eurovision, won the chance to represent her country after winning the “The Star is Born” reality singing competition in February. Israel won the right to host Eurovision in 2019 after Netta Barzilai’s song “Toy” emerged victorious at the competition a year prior. Both "Toy" and "Feker Libi" had been penned Doron Medalie, an Israeli songwriter, composer and artistic director. message 56984180 Israel approves licensing of HIV drug to treat coronavirus Health Ministry says anti-viral drug Kaletra, produced by AbbVie Inc, could be a possible treatment for COVID-19 Reuters https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56984180,00.html Thu, 19 Mar 2020 23:25:16 +03:00 Israel approved the licensing of a generic version of an HIV drug to treat patients infected with the coronavirus on Thursday, despite doubts about its effectiveness in trials. The anti-viral drug Kaletra, produced by AbbVie Inc , could be a possible treatment for COVID-19, Israel's Health Ministry said after issuing a preliminary permit. While AbbVie's patent for Kaletra in Israel ends in 2024, the patent in some other countries, such as India, has expired. It was the first time the country's attorney general has allowed the use of a generic version of a patent-protected drug in Israel, where there are 529 confirmed coronavirus cases. "The company with the patent and the official importer in Israel are not able to supply the necessary inventory for this drug, which is very much in demand all over the world these days," the Justice Ministry said in a statement. "Therefore ... the state will be able to import generic substitutes from countries where the patent has expired." It said generic Kaletra will only be used to treat coronavirus and not HIV, to protect the patent holder. A study released on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug was not effective as a potential treatment for coronavirus. The test of Chinese patients with severe COVID-19 found the 99 who received Kaletra, a combination of HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, fared no better than the 100 who received standard care. Those on the drugs showed clinical improvement after a median of 15 days compared to 16 days with standard care, a difference researchers said was "significant, albeit modest". Johnson & Johnson has been testing a similar HIV drug, known as a protease inhibitor, against the novel coronavirus. At a panel on Thursday organised by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, Paul Stoffels, J&J's chief scientific officer, said its HIV drug Prezista, does not appear to have any effect against COVID-19. "We know from our sovement after a median of 15 days compared to 16 days with standard care, a difference researchers said was "significant, albeit modest".</p> <p>Johnson &amp; Johnson has been testing a similar HIV drug, known as a protease inhibitor, against the novel coronavirus.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6236835> </p><p>At a panel on Thursday organised by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, Paul Stoffels, J&amp;J's chief scientific officer, said its HIV drug Prezista, does not appear to have any effect against COVID-19.</p> <p>"We know from our scientific work that there is no activity on COVID-19," Stoffels told reporters. "It's highly unlikely there is any benefit of protease inhibitors," he added.</p> <p>He discouraged the use of HIV drugs to treat COVID-19 patients if they are proven to be ineffective.</p> <p>"People with HIV will be deprived of medicine if it used in a non-necessary way in this outbreak."</p> <p><br></p> message 56976620 Dissent grows as IOC battles to keep Tokyo Games on track Several Olympic officials and world athletes call decision to keep games going 'irresponsible' and worry it 'puts us all in risk'; commission insists that special arrangements will be made Reuters https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56976620,00.html Wed, 18 Mar 2020 20:55:26 +03:00 The International Olympic Committee is facing its strongest headwinds in decades as it briefed national committees on Wednesday on the state of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic, with voices of dissent growing louder. The IOC has remained committed to staging the Tokyo Games as planned from July 24-Aug. 9, saying on Tuesday after a meeting with international sports federations that measures against the virus were delivering results. The coronavirus has so far killed more than 7,500 people and infected about 200,000, with the epicenter now in Europe. The Olympic body has refused to publicly consider cancellation or postponement as possible options, even as other major events including soccer's Euro 2020 and Copa America and the French Open tennis grand slam announced postponements on Tuesday. The virus has also wreaked havoc with Olympic qualification tournaments with athletes struggling to train, travel or compete and many pre-Games qualifiers canceled or postponed. Tokyo is set to host some 11,000 athletes and 53% have already earned their spot at the Games. The remaining 47% will clinch their place through modified qualifiers, or previous performances based on ranking. Under the current exceptional circumstances, the IOC said, solutions needed to be found that were appropriate, though they might not be ideal for all athletes. "This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions," the IOC told Reuters in a statement on Wednesday. "The IOC is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes' health. "No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes." The IOC got the backing from Panam Sports, the organization representing 41 national Olympic Committees in the Americas. "The Panam Sports family unanimously supports the IOC with all the measures takenion with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes' health.</p> <p>"No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes."</p> <p>The IOC got the backing from Panam Sports, the organization representing 41 national Olympic Committees in the Americas.</p> <p>"The Panam Sports family unanimously supports the IOC with all the measures taken... to address the issues facing the NOCs and athletes in the current qualification opportunities," Panam Sports President Neven Ilic said after the briefing via conference call on Wednesday.</p> <p>"The athletes of the Americas are facing issues to complete their usual training schedules and take part in competitions."</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">'Insensitive, irresponsible'</h3> <p>IOC member Hayley Wickenheiser called the decision to proceed with the Games "insensitive and irresponsible" in the most vocal attack on the Olympic body since President Thomas Bach took over in 2013.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6187334> </p><p>Wickenheiser, who competed in five Winter Games in ice hockey and at the 2000 Summer Olympics in softball, said continuing with the Games as planned ignored the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>"This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics," Wickenheiser said in a statement on Twitter. "Athletes can't train. Attendees can't travel plan. Sponsors and marketers can't market with a degree of sensitivity.</p> <p>"I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity."</p> <p>She is not alone.</p> <p>Several athletes, including reigning Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi, said the IOC decision was putting athletes' health at risk, urging them to train as normal when entire countries have shut down to contain the virus spread.</p> <p>"There is no postponement message 56974840 Eurovision 2020 canceled due to coronavirus 'It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam,' organizers say, adding that it is 'impossible to continue with the live event as planned'; competition was set to take place in Rotterdam on May 12 Reuters, Ynet https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56974840,00.html Wed, 18 Mar 2020 15:49:19 +03:00 The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest for 2020 has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the organizers said Wednesday. "It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam," they said in a statement. "It is impossible to continue with the live event as planned." The annual competition had been due to take place on May 12. Signs that the international competition would be affected came earlier this month, when the heads of Israel's Eurovision delegation said it was skipping a meet and greet ahead of the competition to coronavirus concerns. According to the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN), which is responsible for all things Eurovision in Israel, the delegation cancelled its flight to Rotterdam in order to comply with the Health Ministry directives against flying abroad expect in the case of an emergency. Since then, many countries have implemented strict measures in an effort to contain the virus, shutting their borders and even advising citizens to remain at home unless absolutely necessary. The Netherlands was due to host the competition after its 2019 entry Duncan Laurence won the contest in Tel Aviv. Israel was set to send its first ever competitor of Ethiopian origin, 19-year-old Eden Alene, who won the chance to represent her country after winning the “The Star is Born” reality singing competition in February. message 56933620 Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson in Australian hospital with new virus The Hollywood actor and his wife appear to be the most famous people thus far to be affected by COVID-19; the pair contracted the new virus while in Australia, where Hanks is shooting an untitled Elvis Presley biopic Associated Press https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56933620,00.html Thu, 12 Mar 2020 10:50:54 +03:00 Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson are isolated in stable condition in an Australian hospital Thursday after contracting the new coronavirus, the actor and Australian officials said. The two-time Oscar winner is easily the most famous person yet to disclose they have COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic. Hanks said he and Wilson had felt tired, with colds, aches and slight fevers. "To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus and were found to be positive," he said, adding they'll be "isolated for as long as public health and safety requires." Australian officials said the couple were being treated at a Queensland hospital. "We wish them a very speedy recovery," state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters. Hanks had been in Australia shooting an untitled Elvis Presley biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann. Hanks plays Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The film, slated for release in October 2021, has suspended production, Warner Bros. said. Hanks, after accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes this year, spoke backstage about taking on the Parker role. "I will then finally have an answer to all these stupid questions about why I never played a bad guy," he said as the room burst into laughter. Hanks and Wilson, both 63, were married in 1988. In 2013, Hanks disclosed he has Type 2 diabetes. Chet Hanks later posted on social media that his parents were doing fine and thanked fans for their concern. Wilson had performed at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday night and earlier last week in Brisbane. Queensland health authorities would not give specifics on their health due to privacy issues. But the state's update on its coronavirus infections describe a U.S. couple of their age both in stable condition. Palaszczuk said people who had been in close contact with Hanks and Wilson will have to self-quarantine but she cautioned that people who had taken selfies with <p>Wilson had performed at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday night and earlier last week in Brisbane.</p> <p>Queensland health authorities would not give specifics on their health due to privacy issues. But the state's update on its coronavirus infections describe a U.S. couple of their age both in stable condition.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6184533> </p><p>Palaszczuk said people who had been in close contact with Hanks and Wilson will have to self-quarantine but she cautioned that people who had taken selfies with Hanks recently should not panic about contracting the virus.</p> <p>She said she had spoken to Luhrmann and conveyed his reassurances that he would comply with the government's health restrictions.</p> <p>Australia has confirmed more than 120 cases of infection with the new coronavirus, with three deaths from COVID-19.</p> <p>For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.</p> <p>The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, WHO says.</p> <p><br></p> message 56903240 Israeli desert is alive with the sound of music A group of Anglo theater enthusiasts, including professors and engineers, formed The Light Opera Group of the Negev back in 1981 in a small upscale southern town; now, the troupe is touring the country with one of the world's most beloved productions Yulia Karra https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56903240,00.html Sat, 07 Mar 2020 13:51:27 +03:00 Most Israelis probably don’t know about a unique theater troupe that tours the country with performances of some of the most iconic productions, usually shown on Broadway or London’s West End. Furthermore, they do it for free and in their native English language. LOGON, The Light Opera Group of the Negev, is made up of veteran immigrants from English-speaking countries who work full time day-jobs as accountants, engineers and teachers, and in their free time follow their passion in tireless rehearsals. The troupe was founded in 1981 in Omer, an upscale town in southern Israel near the city of Be’er Sheva, by a group of enthusiasts who had always dreamed of performing on stage but never got a chance to fulfill their ambitions. Today, LOGON produces a one full-scale Broadway musical every year and in 2020 for the first time in the troupe’s history, they are producing one of the world’s most beloved musicals “The Sound of Music.” “I joined LOGON on a friend's recommendation in 1987, and I'm still here after 33 years,” says Alan Cohen, a retired banker . “I've always loved music and I’ve played the guitar since I was 13 and used to sing in a band with friends.” “I am originally from Birmingham U.K. and made aliyah in 1973 at the age of 19.” Michael Herman, who works in Israel’s booming hi-tech industry, is originally from New York but has lived in Israel for the past 10 years. “We made aliyah back in 2010 to the center of the country and lived there for four years, until moving down south to Meitar [a small upscale local council north-east of Be’er Sheva],” he says. “I've always had the ‘acting-bug’ since I was very young but it wasn't until we moved down south that I heard about LOGON and it's history of decades of English musical theatre productions, and it's unique style of touring around Israel.” Michael says that joining LOGON was akin to becoming a member of a new family. “The prospect of being a part of LOGON rekindled my yearning for the stage, anthe country and lived there for four years, until moving down south to Meitar [a small upscale local council north-east of Be’er Sheva],” he says.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6119177> </p><p>“I've always had the ‘acting-bug’ since I was very young but it wasn't until we moved down south that I heard about LOGON and it's history of decades of English musical theatre productions, and it's unique style of touring around Israel.”</p> <p>Michael says that joining LOGON was akin to becoming a member of a new family. “The prospect of being a part of LOGON rekindled my yearning for the stage, and has consumed me ever since,” he says. “It’s a family of like-minded people who give so much of their time and energy in pursuit of their passion.”</p> <p>The troupe has been performing the Rogers and Hammerstein’s show all across Israel, with at least six more shows planned throughout the month of March.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6119178> </p><p>The show is directed by Yaacov Amsellem and choreographed by Keshet Margolis-Stein with David Waldmann as musical director. &nbsp;</p> <p>The troupe has been performing across Israel since late February, and will be in Netanya on March 12, Modi'in on March 17, Nes Ziona on March 19, Jerusalem on March 22, Raanana on March 24 and Be'er Sheva on March 26.&nbsp;</p> <p>Although performances are in English, they have Hebrew subtitles and last on average two and a half hours. Ticket prices range from NIS 65 ($19) to NIS 120 ($35).</p> <p>For tickets visit the LOGON <a href="https://www.negevlightopera.com/" class="bluelink" style="">website</a> or call 08-6414081. &nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 56887330 Israel unveils 'beloved' Eurovision 2020 entry The country's first ever contestant of Ethiopian descent, Eden Alene, will perform 'Feker Libi,' translated as 'Love of my life' or 'My beloved,' at the prestigious singing competition in the Netherlands in May Ynet https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56887330,00.html Wed, 04 Mar 2020 13:7:7 +03:00 Israel's first ever Ethiopian contestant to represent the nation at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest finally has an official song she is set to perform in the Netherlands in May. The song was chosen by the public broadcaster KAN, which organized last year's event in Tel Aviv, later voted by the European viewers as the best Eurovision show of the past decade. Eden Alene, 19, premiered "Feker Livi," which is an amalgamation of Hebrew and her native Amharic. The word "feker" means "beloved" in Amharic, while the word "libi" means "of my heart" in Hebrew. Despite the variety of languages in the composition, the song is mostly performed in English in an apparent effort to appeal to the broader audience. The song also mixed a variety of genres, including traditional Middle Eastern sounds. Alene last month won “The Star is Born” reality show, broadcast on Channel 12, claiming a ticket to the Netherlands - where the prestigious singing competition is set to take place. The Kiryat Gat native, who is still doing her mandatory military service in the Israeli army, has in 2018 won the Israeli version of the “X-Factor,” making her the first ever reality show competitor in Israel’s history to win two different shows. Israel won the right to host Eurovision in 2019 after Netta Barzilai’s song “Toy” emerged victorious at the competition a year prior. Kobi Marimi - who won the same reality show a year ago - represented the country with the ballad called “Home,” criticized by many for failing to energize the crowd. message 56884880 Pro-Palestinian LGBT+ artists boycott Tel Aviv film festival 'Our liberation is intimately connected to liberation of all oppressed peoples and communities,' says group behind embargo; Tel Aviv council member: This is harming cultural event that has nothing to do with state actions Reuters https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56884880,00.html Tue, 03 Mar 2020 23:48:7 +03:00 More than 130 gay and trans filmmakers have pledged to boycott an LGBT+ film festival in Tel Aviv, the latest move in a bitter row between Israel and international pro-Palestinian activists. Turner Prize-winning British artist Charlotte Prodger and French film director Alain Guiraudie are among those boycotting the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, which is funded by the Culture Ministry and was to open on Wednesday. "Our liberation is intimately connected to the liberation of all oppressed peoples and communities," Queer Cinema for Palestine, a group of pro-Palestinian filmmakers behind the boycott campaign, said on its website. "We stand in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom, justice, and dignity." Itai Pinkas, a Tel Aviv city council member responsible for LGBT+ issues, said the boycott was misplaced. "This is harming a pure cultural event that is really nothing to do with whatever wrong the state may be doing," Pinkas told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Israeli policy can be, and sometimes should be, criticized but I don't see how this is criticizing ... governmental policy." Israel - seen as the most liberal country in the Middle East for LGBT+ rights - is often hit by boycotts over its policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv is attended by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. message 56883910 Israel to skip Eurovision meet and greet in Netherlands over coronavirus concerns Heads of Israeli delegation obey Health Ministry regulations and cancel flight to Rotterdam next week to meet counterparts from the other countries ahead of song contest in Dutch city in May Ran boker, Raz Gross https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56883910,00.html Tue, 03 Mar 2020 19:42:32 +03:00 The heads of Israel's Eurovision 2020 delegation is skipping next week's meet and greet ahead of the competition in Rotterdam due to coronavirus concerns. According to the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN), which is responsible for all things Eurovision in Israel, the delegation cancelled its flight to Rotterdam in order to comply with the Health Ministry directives against flying abroad expect in the case of an emergency. Israelis were to pick the country's song for the contest on Tuesday evening during a live TV broadcast by KAN. The international contest will held in the Dutch city in May, as the Netherlands won last year's contest in Tel Aviv. The broadcast will feature four potential songs for the audience to choose from: "Feker Libi"; "Rakata"; "Roots" and "Savior in the Sound". All the songs will be performed by Eden Alene, who won the chance to represent Israel in the contest after winning the “The Star is Born” reality singing competition in February. Alene, 19, is Israel's first entrant of Ethiopian origin for the Eurovision. "There was a time I did not like the fact that I was Ethiopian, I wanted to be white,” said Alene following her win last month. “Think about where we were when the Ethiopians first started making aliyah and look at where we are now. It’s a whole new world.” There have been rumors that the 2020 competition will be delayed due to concerns over coronavirus, although no official statement has been made to support this. Even so, Israel's 2018 competition winner Netta Barzilai canceled her performance at the Croatian national competition to find its Eurovision entrant on Saturday due to fears over the virus, Channel 12 reported last week. message 56868210 Israeli runner sets new record in Japanese marathon win Kenya-born Lonah Chemtai Salpeter scores 8th-best time ever in women’s event after organizers in Tokyo cut the number of participants from 38,000 to only 200 due to spread of coronavirus in the country Ynet, i24NEWS https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56868210,00.html Sun, 01 Mar 2020 9:22:37 +03:00 Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter finished first in the Tokyo Marathon women's event on Sunday after the organizers limited the number of participants in the event due continuing fears of a coronavirus outbreak. The Kenya-born runner finished the arduous run in 2 hours 17 minutes and 45 seconds, setting a new women’s record for the race, which originally had 38,000 registered participants but was reduced to only 200 due to the risk of the COVID-19 virus being spread among the runners. The score is the eighth-best of all time in women’s event, with only five other athletes achieving a better result. The result surpasses the Israeli national record, which also belongs to Salpeter, by two minutes. Salpeter moved to Israel in 2011 and fought for citizenship for years. She eventually received Israeli passport in March of 2016 after winning the Tel Aviv Marathon, allowing her to compete for Israel in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, shortly after the birth of her son, Roy. The Tokyo Marathon is one of the biggest sporting events to be affected by the coronavirus in Japan, with the Olympic Games opening ceremony less than five months away. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepped up national measures to contain the virus, calling on organizers of large events to consider canceling or delaying them. Disruption caused by the virus has affected Olympic qualifying events in several sports, including soccer, boxing, badminton, handball and wrestling and sailing. Tokyo's Olympic organizers have repeatedly said they are focused on holding a safe Olympics and Paralympics with the IOC's full backing. Birhanu Legese of Ethiopia won the men's event. message