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In Pictures: Jerusalem turns white after rare snowfall | Middle East News

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Jerusalem woke up to the rare experience of seeing its holy sites covered in snow on Thursday, with the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall under a layer of white after an overnight snowstorm.

Before dawn children were up hurling snowballs at each other outside the Old City gates, as the faithful trudged to sites holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

The snowstorm began on Wednesday evening, leading the authorities to shut down public transportation and block the main road to Jerusalem.

But as it eased overnight the municipality said it would resume services.

The snowfall, which also landed in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, covered areas in the region it has not reached in years, disrupting traffic and postponing vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 and even exams at some universities.



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Paraguay’s president asks all ministers to resign after protests | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Mario Abdo Benitez is expected to announce changes to his cabinet after citizens protest handling of COVID-19 pandemic.

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez has asked all cabinet ministers to resign following clashes between demonstrators and police at protests against the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The country’s communications minister, Juan Manuel Brunetti, said on Saturday the president asked “all the members of the cabinet to give up their positions”.

“The president … will surely speak today with the citizenry. He [will] announce the changes, but we want all the citizens to know and understand is that their message has reached the president,” he said.

Abdo Benitez respects peaceful protests and calls for peace, Brunetti added.

Paraguayans protest against President Mario Abdo Benitez’s health policies and the lack of COVID-19 vaccines in Asuncion [Cesar Olmedo/Reuters]

Clashes broke out on Friday evening between protesters and police in the centre of the capital, Asuncion. Rioters hurled stones at the officers, who in turn used rubber bullets and tear gas.

The protests came amid growing outrage over a surging COVID-19 pandemic in Paraguay, where infections hit record levels and hospitals have been pushed to the brink of collapse.

Protesters rallied outside the Congress building to demand the resignation of Abdo Benitez.

On Thursday, the Senate adopted a resolution calling for Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni to step down over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Mazzoleni has been under attack from legislators, including some from the governing party, and by health worker unions.

On Friday, Mazzoleni announced after a meeting with the president that he had submitted his resignation.

Health workers of the Hospital de Clinicas stand with a mock coffin reading ‘Corruption kills’, as they protest the healthcare system collapse, in San Lorenzo, Paraguay [Cesar Olmedo/Reuters]

The country’s health system is in trouble, as the government recently said there is a shortage of important drugs to treat COVID-19 patients and that almost all intensive care unit beds at public hospitals were full.

“We are in a critical situation,” health ministry spokesman Hernan Martinez recently said.

“Let’s avoid crowds. It is the only thing that can save us from the collapse of healthcare.”

Paraguay has reported more than 165,800 cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and more than 3,200 people have died due to the coronavirus.



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