People who test positive for coronavirus or show symptoms in the UK must now self-isolate for at least 10 days, rather than seven. The change, announced by the UK s chief medical officers, comes as ministers try to avoid a resurgence of the virus. Until now, those showing key symptoms - a new continuous cough, a temperature or loss of taste or smell - have had to self-isolate for at least a week. The new advice is in line with World Health Organization guidance. The chief medical officers said the change is "particularly important to protect those who have been shielding and in advance of the autumn and winter when we may see increased community transmission". Evidence shows that people with Covid-19 have "a low but real possibility of infectiousness" between seven and nine days after falling ill, they said. People are most contagious just before they first display symptoms and for the first few days afterwards. But scientists say evidence that they could pass it on up to nine days later has "strengthened". Advice on the length of isolation varies between countries. For example, the Irish Republic says those who have symptoms should isolate for 14 days, while in the US those with symptoms are told to isolate for 10 days and can only leave isolation if they have had at least 24 hours without a fever. It comes after the prime minister warned of signs of a "second wave" of the pandemic in parts of Europe. Speaking on BBC Breakfast before the announcement, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government wanted to "take a precautionary approach" and "protect people from that wave reaching our shores". Frank Atherton, chief medical officer for Wales, said the change was "vital" and "nobody should be under the illusion that coronavirus has gone away". England death rate among worst in Europe What s the evidence Europe is having a second wave ? UK signs deal for 60 million virus vaccine doses The government has also confirmed that registered health and care professionals travelling to the UK from high-risk countries will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. An quarantine exemption for health professionals had been in place since June. There have also been concerns about several local outbreaks across the UK, including in Oldham, Wrexham and Staffordshire. Meanwhile, the government is expected on Friday to announce a decision on whether to ease restrictions in Leicester, a month after the city was put into extended lockdown following a spike in cases. The mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, expressed frustration at the delayed decision, originally expected on Thursday. "We haven t got a clue what s going on, we really haven t," he said. The brakes are beginning to come on Two or three weeks ago the message from the prime minister was that, hopefully, we would be back to near-normality by Christmas. The direction of travel was one of lockdown easing, with pubs and restaurants reopening, as well as a feeling that we seemed to be getting through it. Now, there s a real sense of the brakes beginning to go on. We saw it with the quick quarantine measures imposed on people returning from Spain. Luxembourg may well have similar restrictions soon and they re keeping an eye on Belgium too. We had restrictions imposed in Oldham to curb the virus there and now there s been an extension of the self-isolation period. The real apprehension is that what is happening in the rest of Europe may, in time, happen here. To some extent, that has been the story of coronavirus: we have tended to follow what has emerged in mainland Europe. Official figures published on Thursday showed that 43,119 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their cases transferred to NHS Test and Trace since its launch in May. The tracing system successfully contacted just over 77% of these - but just over 23% were not reached. The figures, from the Department of Health and Social Care, also showed that of 222,589 people identified as close contacts of those who tested positive, 83% had been reached and asked to self-isolate. Prime Minister Boris Johnson s pledge - that by the end of June everyone tested in person would receive results within 24 hours - is still not being met, with about three-quarters (76.4%) of people getting results on time in the week up to July 22. For those using home testing kits, 76.9% received results within 48 hours. But the government is concerned that some people are not coming forward for testing, hampering its ability to track outbreaks, because they wrongly think they have to pay for it or that they are not eligible. A decision that could have been taken months ago The UK requirement for people who test positive or show symptoms to isolate for seven days was always on the low side - plenty of other countries require 10 days or even longer. As coronavirus is new, there is still a lack of certainty over how long someone remains infectious, which is why there are a variety of approaches. UK health officials say there is enough evidence now to point to a "low, but tangible" risk of transmission from seven to 10 days, even for those with mild to moderate illness. This is a decision that could have been taken weeks, even months, ago in truth. But officials are describing it as a "value judgement" based on a variety of reasons. For one thing the easing of restrictions means we have more social contacts than we did previously - so even with the low risk of transmission post seven days, the chances of passing it on increases. The availability of widespread testing also means only those with a positively confirmed infection need to continue isolating - earlier in the pandemic the lack of testing meant a blanket approach had to be taken so anyone with symptoms was asked to isolate. But it is about sending an important signal too. Levels of infection are low, but the message is clear: we can t be complacent. The government is launching a TV and online advertising campaign on Thursday night stressing that anyone with symptoms should get tested, which is free and available to all. Only about a third of people infected are thought to come forward for tests, although some of the untested cases may be people who do not have any symptoms. Those in a household with anyone who tests positive or shows symptoms are told to self-isolate for 14 days. And people returning to the UK from certain countries are also being asked to quarantine for 14 days - a move that has sparked complaints from travel firms. SYMPTOMS: What are they and how to guard against them? FACE MASKS: When should you wear one? TESTING: Who can get a test and how? BUBBLES: How do they work and who can be in yours? Ministers are also looking for a way to reduce the current 14-day quarantine period for arrivals to the UK, meaning that quarantine and self-isolation time periods could be standardised at 10 days. Mr Hancock told Today that the government is looking at using testing to reduce the length of the quarantine period - but there would be no imminent changes. On Thursday evening, Luxembourg was removed from the quarantine-free list, meaning people arriving in the UK from the small land-locked country from midnight will need to self-isolate for two weeks. A senior government source told the BBC that Belgium would stay off the list - for the moment - but case numbers would continue to be monitored. Leading travel and airline industry figures called on Wednesday for coronavirus testing at airports in the UK but the source said that "any new system had to be workable and at the moment it isn t". Mr Hancock told Breakfast that the "big scientific challenge" with testing arrivals at the border is that people "can incubate this disease for many days without displaying any symptoms, and that wouldn t show up in a test". What are the rules on self-isolating? Self-isolating means staying at home and not leaving it. Anyone who has either tested positive for coronavirus or shown symptoms should isolate themselves for at least 10 days, and those who show symptoms should arrange to get tested. Symptoms include: a new continuous cough a high temperature a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell They should continue to self-isolate if they still feel unwell after that initial period. Other members of their household should isolate for 14 days and not leave their homes. If you test positive you will be contacted by contact tracers, who will establish who else you might have passed on the infection to. Anybody they deem to be at risk will have to isolate themselves for 14 days from the point of contact.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Wednesday that the African Champions League semifinals will be played in the original two-leg format instead of the one-leg format that had previously been approved by the CAF, while the Confederation Cup will be held in the one-leg format. The CAF Champions League semifinals include two teams from Egypt and two teams from Morocco, as Ahly faces Wydad Casablanca while Zamalek will play against Rajaa Casablanca. The CAF decided that the first leg matches will be played in Morocco on 25 and 26 September, and the second leg matches will be hosted by Cairo on 2 and 3 October. The final match of the continental club tournament will take place on 16 or 17 October, but under certain conditions determined by the CAF. If Ahly and Zamalek win their semifinal games, the final will be held in Cairo, and if Wydad and Rajaa defeat the Cairo giants, then the final will be held in Morocco. If the final includes a team from each country, the game will be hosted by a neutral venue. LONDON (AP) — Johnny Depp’s libel case against a British tabloid that accused him of abusing ex-wife Amber Heard was wrapping up Tuesday after three weeks of court hearings that dissected a toxic celebrity love affair. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the newspaper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, at the High Court in London over an April 2018 article that called him a “wife-beater.” In closing arguments, Depp’s lawyer, David Sherborne, said the actor strongly denied “this reputation-destroying, career-ending allegation.” Once Sherborne is finished, judge Andrew Nicol will retire to sift claim and counterclaim as he considers his verdict. He is expected to hand down his ruling in several weeks. WHAT IS THE JUDGE DECIDING? Neither Depp nor Heard is on trial, though it has been easy to forget that during a case that raked over messy details of the couple’s volatile relationship. Depp is the claimant in the civil case, NGN and Wootton are the defendants and Heard is their main witness. To defeat Depp’s libel claim, the newspaper must persuade the judge that, on the balance of probabilities, its story was accurate. NGN’s lawyer, Sasha Wass, said in her summing-up that there was no doubt Depp “regularly and systematically abused his wife” and so the “wife-beater” label was justified. But Sherborne said The Sun’s article — which urged J.K. Rowling to have Depp fired from the movie version of her book “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” — gave the false impression Depp had been “tried, convicted and sentenced” for domestic violence. “Acting as both judge and jury, the defendants plainly and squarely state that Mr. Depp is guilty (of a) series of serious and violent criminal offenses,” he said. WHAT IS IN DISPUTE? The two sides agree that the relationship between Depp and Heard, which began after they met on the set of 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary,” soured long before they divorced in 2017. Texts, emails and recordings attest to the increasingly bitter relations between Depp, now 57, and the 34-year-old model and actress. But they disagree completely over who started and escalated their fights. Depp denies Heard’s claim of 14 separate incidents in which he allegedly hit, slapped and shoved her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her “like grenades.” The judge was shown photos of Heard with black eyes, red marks on her face and an injured scalp — alleged evidence of Depp’s violence. Depp said the photos were part of a “dossier” of fake evidence and claimed that Heard hit him, even severing the tip of his finger with a thrown vodka bottle. Under cross-examination Depp admitted headbutting Heard during a tussle, but said it was by accident as he tried to stop her punching him. Heard acknowledged having a short temper and said she punched Depp once in March 2015. But she said it was to prevent him hitting her sister. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? The trial has provided an up-close and often unflattering look at Hollywood stardom, revealing details of Depp’s life of wealth, luxury, emotional turmoil and substance abuse. Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at law firm Howard Kennedy, said the sensational case “has all of the hallmarks of the Roman arena.” “People will remember this case not for the results, but for the evidence — the rather nasty, gory evidence — that was involved,” he said. The settings for the disintegrating relationship were as glamorous as the allegations were sordid. The alleged assaults took place on Depp’s private island in the Bahamas, a Los Angeles penthouse, a luxury train and a private jet. Depp said in the witness box that he had made $650 million since he joined the lucrative “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise — and ended up $100 million in debt after his financial advisers neglected to pay his taxes for 17 years. Friends described Depp as a generous big spender, and he said he’d spent $5 million sending the ashes of his literary hero, drug-fueled journalist Hunter S. Thompson, into space. Whichever spouse was to blame, the relationship left a trail of destruction. Damage to a rented house in Australia where the couple had an altercation was estimated at more than $100,000. The couple’s downtown L.A. penthouse was trashed during another argument. The low point of the relationship, according to Depp, came when excrement was found in a bed at the penthouse. Heard blamed one of the couple’s two Yorkshire terriers, but Depp suspected Heard or one of her friends was to blame. WHO ARE THE WINNERS AND LOSERS? British libel law is widely considered to favor claimants over defendants, but Depp could end up a loser even if he wins. Depp said he sued The Sun because his career had been harmed by Heard’s allegations. But the case has amplified the claims for millions of people around the world, whatever the judge ends up deciding. “It almost beggars belief that anyone rational has taken this case to court,” Stephens said. “Now, I know that many people say it’s all about vindication. It’s all about proving he’s not a wife beater. But the stakes are very, very high for everybody. And at some level, mud sticks.” Heard also has had her character questioned and has been accused of fabricating evidence. She was accused by a #MeToo activist, Katherine Kendall, of appropriating a violent rape that happened to Kendall for her own ends. The most likely winners are Wass and Sherborne, tough lawyers who both made strong cases for their clients. Sherborne also has a starring role in another big celebrity trial — he’s representing the Duchess of Sussex in her lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over publication of a private letter she sent to her father Thomas Markle. WILL THE VERDICT BE THE END OF THE STORY? Not likely. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post story about domestic violence. The trial is due to be held next year. Stephens said that if Depp “loses in London, he’s almost certain to lose that American case. So this is in some ways a dress rehearsal for the second case.” By JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA Image: US Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court in London in London, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Hollywood actor Johnny Depp is suing News Group Newspapers over a story about his former wife Amber Heard, published in The Sun in 2018 which branded him a ‘wife beater’, a claim he denies.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Egyptian singer Nouran AbuTaleb and bassist Samer George will live-stream a concert on Wednesday 5 August that will also feature Austrian singer Eva Klampfer, aka Lylit. "International media from all around the globe describe the two independent female artists as brave, unique and far from any superficialities," stated the Austrian Cultural Forum that organises the event, in cooperation with ROOM Art Space & Cafe. "United in their musical virtuosity, the female duo will not only perform a memorable live show but also present a jointly composed song that will have its live premiere on the occasion of the concert," the organisers added. The young talent, Nouran AbuTaleb, who featured in the last performance of Mohamed Mounir in Ramadan, performs a mixture of Arabic jazz and pop songs from different eras, along with original songs composed by herself and George. Lylit, one of the most successful soul singers in Austria, is famed locally for outstanding talents. Programme: Wednesday 5 August at 8pm Online on the Facebook pages of the Austrian Cultural Forum and Room Art Space
This Eid al-Adha cinema season, one of the most important seasons for film screenings throughout the year, emerges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which shuttered theaters across the country that are only now returning to life a capacity limit of 25 percent. Producers did not find this new occupancy limit attractive enough for new releases, with only one film announced to be screening in theaters this Eid: “al-Ghassala” (The Washing Machine), according to the director of a distribution company Safwat al-Helbawy. Starring Ahmed Hatem, Hana al-Zahid, Mahmoud Hamida, Mohamed Salam, Bayoumi Fouad, Ahmed Fathy, and Taher Abolila, the movie is written by Adel Salib, directed by Essam Abdel Hamid, and produced by Synergy Films, New Century and Misr International Films. Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Helbawy explained that in light of the 25 percent capacity limit, producers expect this Eid film season to only return profits if one or two films are screened. This means that several newly finished movies will not be screening in cinemas. These include “Awdet al-Aref” (The Return of the Knower) starring Ahmed Ezz, “al-Ankabout” (The Spider) starring Ahmed al-Sakka, which was postponed to 2021, as well as “al-Baad La Yazhab lel Maazoun Maretain” (Some Do Not Go to the Marriage Registrar Twice) starring Karim Abdel Aziz. And screening dates remain unannounced for “Zenzana Seven” (Cell Seven) starring Ahmed Zahir and Nidal al-Shafei, “Shereet Six” starring Khaled al-Sawy, “Mousa” starring Karim Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, and “Al-Harith” starring Ahmed al-Fishawy and Yasmin Raees. Another distribution company director, Hassan Abdel Fattah, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the film “Saheb al-Maqam” starring Yousra and Asser Yassin will only debut through electronic platforms this season. He added that the movie “Tawaam Roahy” (My Spiritual Twin) will not be shown in cinemas due to a lack of agreement on when it would be screened across the Arab world. Films already being screened before cinemas were shuttered, such as “al-Flous” (The Money), “Les Baghdad” (Baghdad Thief), “Ras al-Sana” (New Year’s), and “Banat Thanawy” (Secondary School Girls), will be screened if no new films are released this Eid, Abdel Fattah explained.
"The Isis String Orchestra will soon launch its activities, inviting new amateur string players to join the creative body," Khaled Saleh, Egyptian violin player and founder of the orchestra told Ahram Online. The new orchestra is a continuation of Saleh s previous project of the same character, Osiris String Orchestra, a body that was also established by the musician. Saleh is a graduate of the Cairo Conservatory, where he recieved his PhD and teaches until present. He recieved his master’s degree from the Indiana University (2011). Also an alumni of Fulbright, Saleh is a former violin player at the Cairo Symphony Orchestra (2004-2009). Since 2017, he has been a member of the Committee of Music, Opera and Ballet at the Supreme Council of Culture (Ministry of Culture), and a coordinator and jury member of the Nicolas Latif string competition. He is also a violin instructor at the Al Nour Wal Amal Orchestra, consisting of blind women musicians. While performing with numerous ensembles, Saleh founded the Awtar Quartet consisting of professional musicians in 2012. In 2016, he founded the Osiris String Orchestra, an ensemble which until 2018 aimed to develop and provide performance opportunities to amateur musicians. Supported by the Awtar Quartet, the trainings and rehearsals were taking place at the Osiris for Art Production and Training. "In 2018, I left the project and later on the Osiris closed," Saleh clarified, adding that the Isis String Orchestra will be composed entirely of amateur musicians with a new pattern of trainings and rehearsals, and in a new location. "Just as we worked with Osiris, the Isis String Orchestra will have a few seasons per year with each lasting for three months during which I provide trainings as we prepare for the final performances. This time we will have one group rehearsal per week, with additional work being done online. This time, the Awtar Quartet will support the ensemble in the final performance only," Saleh said. "I hope to hold a concert after the completion of our first season which begins on 4 September. In case the situation of the pandemic worsens, we will definitely do some virtual projects, videos to be posted online, etc." The orchestra relies on violins and celli, inviting all amateur musicians to join the team which is fully trained by Saleh in addition to him directing and conducting the orchestra. "We already have numerous members coming from the Osiris orchestra. The new ones are welcome to join, bearing in mind that they should have some experience in playing the violin, viola or cello. The ability of reading music -- even if not professionally -- is also one of the basic requirements." Following its previous practice, the Isis String Orchestra focuses on Western classical music, some light compositions, as well as a few works from the Arabic repertoire, all of which are being chosen and arranged for the ability of the performers. Saleh s amateur orchestra is definitely a rarity on Egypt s cultural scene. "There are many similar practices internationally," Saleh clarified. "In Egypt, we have many people playing string instruments on hobbystic basis and mostly their efforts are limited to taking courses here and there. With the Isis String Orchestra, we can provide a platform for those talents to nurture their passion and perform in front of the audience." Throughout the years of operations, the body became a community which shares similar mindsets and interests. As Saleh underscores, the musicians became friends and are eager to welcome new members to their practice. "Since 2018, when we stopped our activities, all the members of Osiris were eager to return to music and the orchestra." Saleh also explains the choice of the orchestra s name, saying that "it takes us back to the Egyptian mythology where the god Osiris, a primeval king of Egypt was killed by his brother Set and his body was cut up into pieces. As the myth says, Osiris wife Isis restored her husband s body, something that we are now doing with the new orchestra." The call for new amateur string players remains open until 15 August. The musicians can follow the Isis String Orchestra facebook page for more details. The activities will kick-off on 4 September.
LONDON (AP) — Amber Heard alleged in a British court on Wednesday that her ex-husband Johnny Depp threw “30 or so bottles” at her as if they were “grenades or bombs” while they were in Australia in March 2015 and that he accidentally severed part of his finger during the assault. Taking to the witness box for a third day at the High Court in London during Depp’s libel case against a British tabloid, the actress refuted his allegation that it was she who lost her temper and that she had injured him. Heard has described her stay in Australia with Depp as akin to a “three-day hostage situation,” during which Depp was “completely out of his mind and out of control.” She has said that she feared for her life while at the rented property on Australia’s Gold Coast. The incident is central to The Sun’s labeling of Depp in an April 2018 article as a “wife beater.” The Sun’s defense relies on 14 allegations made by Heard of violence by Depp between 2013 and 2016, in settings including the rented house in Australia, his private island in the Bahamas, and a private jet. He denies the charges and claims Heard was the aggressor during their relationship. He was present once again to hear Heard’s testimony. Depp, 57, is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over the article. Depp’s lawyer, Eleanor Laws, said Heard had worked herself “into a rage” during her stay in Australia, where Depp was filming the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Heard, 34, said she got “angry at times but not into a rage that would cause me to throw anything at him.” She did concede that she did break one bottle in their second evening together in Australia as they argued about the scale of his drinking. “I regret I did that,” said Heard, who also claimed that Depp would often credit her for saving him by trying to get him clean and sober. After she smashed the bottle, Heard alleges that Depp, fueled by drink and drugs, started throwing bottles, full enough that they broke a window behind her. “He threw all the bottles that were in reach, all except for one which was a celebratory magnum-sized bottle of wine,” she said. Heard also denied severing the tip of Depp’s finger during the bottle-throwing frenzy and that she put out a cigarette on his cheek during the incident. She said it was something that Depp used to do to himself. “Johnny did it right in front of me, he often did things like that,” she said. In the first nine days of testimony at the High Court, judge Andrew Nicol heard from Depp and from several current or former employees who backed his version of events. In his testimony, Depp said he was the one being abused by Heard and that she had a history of being violent against him. In written testimony released to the court, Heard said that at various times during their relationship she endured “punching, slapping, kicking, head-butting and choking.” She said some incidents were “so severe” she was “afraid he was going to kill me, either intentionally or just by losing control and going too far.” She said he blamed his actions on “a self-created third party” that he referred to as “the monster.” Depp and Heard met on the set of the comedy “The Rum Diary,” released in 2011. They married in Los Angeles in February 2015. Heard filed for divorce the following year, and it was finalized in 2017. Heard’s testimony is expected to last for four days, through Thursday. By PAN PYLAS Image: US actress Amber Heard arrives at the High Court in London in London, Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Actor Heard’s ex-husband Johnny Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the paper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that called him a “wife-beater.” Depp strongly denies all allegations. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
British actress Tilda Swinton and Hong Kong director and producer Ann Hui will receive lifetime achievement awards at the Venice Film Festival in September, organisers said Monday. "Tilda Swinton is unanimously recognised as one of the most original and powerful performers to establish herself at the end of the last century," said festival director, Alberto Barbera. Swinton, 59, made her debut in 1986 in Derek Jarman s Caravaggio and worked with him in seven other films, including The Last of England (1987), The Garden (1990), Edward II (1991) and Wittgenstein (1993). Swinton won a BAFTA and an Oscar for best supporting actress for her performance as a hard-nosed corporate attorney in Tony Gilroy s 2007 film Michael Clayton. Barbera similarly praised Hui, describing her as "one of Asia s most respected, prolific, and versatile directors of our times." After studying at Hong Kong University and then at the London Film School in the early 1970s, Hui, made her debut feature film, The Secret, in 1979, which established her as a leading light in Hong Kong s New Wave movement alongside Tsui Hark, John Woo, and Patrick Tam. Now, at 73, she has made 26 films, two documentaries and a number of shorts. This year s Venice festival, its 77th edition, will run from September 2 to 12, and will be greatly reduced in size as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with strict social distancing rules in force. It is seen as doubly important this year because other top festivals, including Cannes, have been cancelled. The line-up will be announced on July 28.
Egyptian singer and actor Mohamed Ramadan announced the postponement of his upcoming television series “Al-Embrator” (The Emperor), based on the life of the late Egyptian actor Ahmed Zaki, due to Zaki’s heirs’ objections. Ramadan added that he will instead begin work on another project, titled “Moussa” (Moses). Ramadan published a picture on his official Facebook page with the name Moussa in red. He commented: “The [Ahmed Zaki] series was postponed pending negotiations with his heirs… Our next series (Moussa) is written by Nasser Abdel Rahman, directed by Mohamed Salama, and produced by Tamer Morsy.” Ramadan announced in June that Synergy Productions contracted with screenwriter Bashir al-Deek to write a series about Ahmed Zaki. Ramadan said that he would play the lead role in the series, which was expected to air during the 2021 Ramadan drama season.
Popular Egyptian band Massar Egbari will give a live concert on 22 July at the Cairo Opera House s newly-established open-air stage Fountain Theatre. The band will introduce original songs addressing social topics, such as Fakrah (Do You Remember), Mafish Haga (Nothing), Hawy (Magician), Tareeq Tany (Another Road) and many others. Massar Egbari s last appearance was an online streaming concert in early June during the first season of the WE Online Music Festival. Founded in 2005 and coming to prominence a few years later, Massar Egbari is at present one of the leading independent bands in Egypt, with the line-up of well-known musicians Hani El-Dakkak (guitar and lead vocal), Ahmed Hafez (bass guitar), Tamer Attallah (drums), Ayman Massoud (keyboards), and Mahmoud Siam (guitar). The band has remained active during the general shutdown of cultural activities. It was the first independent Egyptian band to livestream a concert on 24 March. After a four-month suspension amid the coronavirus shutdown, the Cairo Opera House re-launched activities on 9 July amid strict precautionary measures.
The Red Sea International Film Festival has announced the canceling of its first edition due to the COVID 19 pandemic, revealing plans for a 2021 second edition . "We are declaring the inaugural Red Sea Film Festival as a Label Edition ," stated the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation on Friday, thanking filmmakers and jury members for their efforts. The foundation confirmed it will continue supporting select films and projects as part of its various grant programmes. The first edition of the Saudi festival was supposed to take place this year, but the organisers initially postponed it due to the pandemic following the precautionary measures taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Egypt was supposed to have a high level of participation in the festival s activities. In December 2019, the organisers revealed that the festival will honour Egyptian filmmaker Khairy Beshara, some of whose films have been re-mastered by the festival. Among the foundation s aims is to shed light on Saudi cinema, promote international cinema to local audiences, and support Saudi and international filmmakers while nurturing the cultural scene. Saudi Arabia reported almost 250,000 coronavirus cases and around 2,500 deaths so for. More information about the festival in this lin
Egyptian culture ministry leaders are working on organising a performance in celebration of the work of pioneer folkloric dancer Mahmoud Reda, the founder of Egypt s Reda Troupe, who died Friday at the age of 89. Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem met with director Khaled Galal, head of the Culture Production Sector at the ministry, and professor Mahmoud Salah, head of the Reda Troupe, to discuss details of the honour ceremony planned to be held at the Balloon Theatre. “The late Mahmoud Reda is considered among folkloric arts legends who were able to change society s perspectives towards these arts, throughout his dance designs that became a part of Egyptian heritage," Abdel-Dayem stated, praising Reda who was celebrated by the ministry last December on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of his popular troupe. Born in 1931, Reda, who participated as an athlete in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, founded Reda Troupe in 1959, finding wide success that led to official adoption by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture in 1961, with the troupe performing in all over the country and in many important venues abroad. Reda Troupe collaborated with numerous musicians and starred in many films like Agazet Nos Al-Sanah in 1961, directed by his brother Ali Reda, in addition to other films like Gharam fi Al-Karnak in 1967 and Harami El-Waraqa in 1970. Mahmoud Reda worked with the troupe until he retired in 1990, although he continued to supervise it artistically. Egypt resumed public culture activities last weekend as part of phase one of the country s cautious reopening following the Covid-19 lockdown, with all events held under strict measures that include social distancing, obligatory face masks, and sanitising.
Abdel-Halim Nowira Arabic Music Troupe will perform a selection of popular song of Egyptian singing legend Umm Kulthum at the Cairo Opera House s Open Air Theatre 17 July. The concert will be conducted by Ahmed Amer, leading a repertoire that includes Ghannily Shway (Sing Some For Me) of composer Zakaria Ahmed, Ala Balad El-Mahmboub (To the Land of the Beloved) and Dalily Ehtar (Confused) of Riad El-Sonbaty, and Esa al Rouhak (Ask Your Soul) and Fakarouny (They Reminded Me) of Mohamed Abdel-Wahab. As part of their Kalthoumiat series, the troupe will feature talented singers Ghada Adam and Hasnaa in one of the earliest concerts in phase one relaunching public culture activities in Egypt after the Covid-19 lockdown. Egypt resumed public culture activities last weekend with all few events held under strict new precautionary measures, including social distancing, obligatory face masks, and sanitizing.
The UK could see about 120,000 new coronavirus deaths in a second wave of infections this winter, scientists say. Asked to model a "reasonable" worst-case scenario, they suggest a range between 24,500 and 251,000 of virus-related deaths in hospitals alone, peaking in January and February. To date, there have been 44,830 official deaths in the UK, but this has slowed with 1,100 in July. The estimate does not take into account any lockdowns, treatments or vaccines. And the scientists say: "The risk... could be reduced if we take action immediately". The report, requested by the UK s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, stresses there is still a high degree of uncertainty over how the coronavirus pandemic will play out this winter. But research suggests the virus can survive longer in colder conditions and is more likely to spread when people spend more time indoors. And experts are concerned the NHS will be under extreme pressure, not just from a resurgence of coronavirus but also from seasonal flu and a backlog of regular, non-coronavirus workload. How close are we to a vaccine? What progress are we making on treatments? Can you catch coronavirus twice? Could there be a second wave? The health service is already severely disrupted in the aftermath of the first pandemic wave, with a waiting list that could stand at 10 million by the end of this year, the report says. Prof Stephen Holgate, a respiratory specialist from University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, who chaired the report, said: "This is not a prediction - but it is a possibility. "The modelling suggests that deaths could be higher with a new wave of Covid-19 this winter. "But the risk of this happening could be reduced if we take action immediately." With relatively low numbers of coronavirus cases at the moment, "this is a critical window of opportunity to help us prepare for the worst that winter can throw at us", he added. Less pessimistic winter scenarios are also possible, with coronavirus deaths in the thousands. The report makes it clear there is a high degree of uncertainty in the projected death figures. It is not a prediction of what will happen, rather what might. Researchers can model likely scenarios. But simulations rest on assumptions that do not always play out in real life. Change any of the parameters slightly, and you get very different projections. The overall message, however, is clear - prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Currently, coronavirus deaths and cases in the UK are down, which gives the nation a chance to reflect and plan for a second wave. Keeping infection rates low as Britain emerges from lockdown will be critical in controlling the disease. The virus has not gone away. And we do not have a vaccine for it yet. But there are things we can all do, including isolating and getting tested if we develop symptoms. Co-author Prof Dame Anne Johnson, from the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: "Faced with these potential challenges, and after an already tough year, it would be easy to feel hopeless and powerless. "But this report shows that we can act now to change things for the better." It recommends: increasing capacity of the test-and-trace programme, to cope with the overlapping symptoms of coronavirus, flu and other winter infections getting more people vaccinated against flu ensuring hospitals and care homes have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) creating coronavirus-free zones in hospitals and care homes, to halt infections Health Secretary Matt Hancock said planning was already under way for dealing with the expected surge in demand on the NHS this winter. The government had procured enough flu vaccine to roll out the "biggest flu vaccine programme in history" and was working on setting up a coronavirus vaccination programme should a successful vaccine be found, he added. A government statement said: "We remain vigilant and the government will ensure the necessary resources are in place to avoid a second peak that would overwhelm our NHS."
American actress Kelly Preston who has appeared in films including "Jerry Maguire" and "Twins", has died aged 57 after battling breast cancer for nearly two years, her husband, John Travolta, announced in an Instagram post late on Sunday. "It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer," the 66-year-old "Grease" actor said in his post. "Kelly s love and life will always be remembered. I will be taking some time to be there for my children who have lost their mother, so forgive me in advance if you don t hear from us for a while", Travolta wrote. Born Kelly Kamalelehua Smith in Honolulu on Oct. 13, 1962, she changed her name to Kelly Preston before securing her first film role in the 1985 romcom "Mischief," then appeared in another teen comedy, "Secret Admirer". In the next few years Preston starred in films such as "SpaceCamp" and then "Twins" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. In "Jerry Maguire", she played Tom Cruise s fiancee Avery Bishop, then co-starred opposite Kevin Costner in "For Love of the Game". Preston last starred in the 2018 film "Gotti" in which she played Victoria Gotti, the wife of Mafia boss John Gotti, who was portrayed on screen by Travolta. Travolta, star of the hit dance movies "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease", met Preston in 1988 when they appeared together in a film called "The Experts". They married on Sept. 5, 1991, in Paris. Preston is survived by her husband and their children - daughter Ella, 20, and 9-year-old son Benjamin. Their son Jett died at age 16 in January 2009 during a family vacation in the Bahamas. "I have never met anyone as courageous, strong, beautiful and loving as you," her daughter, Ella Bleu Travolta, wrote in a tribute posted on Instagram.
Synergy Films, New Century Production and Misr International Films gave a first glimpse into the new comedy film El Ghassala (The Washing Machine), with a teaser released this weekend on TikTok and posted by New Century on their YouTube channel on Saturday. The film is directed by Essam Abdel-Hamid and written by Adel Salib. According to Al-Ahram Arabic news website, the comedy fuses science fiction elements with a love story between the young protagonists. El Ghassala stars Mahmoud Hemida, Ahmed Hatem and Hana El Zahed, Muhammad Salamam, Bayoumi Fouad, Ahmed Fathi and Taher Abu Laila, with guests of honor Muhammad Tharwat, Mahmoud Al-Leithy and Ali Al-Tayeb, and a special appearance by Sherine Reda. As revealed on IMDb, the film is scheduled to be released during the upcoming Eid El-Adha, on 31 July, across Egyptian movie theatres. The comedy is the first new film production to see light after the four months of general lockdown during which all cinemas and other cultural venues were closed across the country.
Hollywood star Johnny Depp accused his ex-wife Amber Heard of lying about him beating her up, and told London s High Court on Tuesday that she had actually struck him. Depp, the 57-year-old star of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, is suing The Sun s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, for libel over an article Wootton wrote in April 2018 calling him a "wife beater". The paper s lawyers said they would show the claim was true and that he had beaten actress Heard, causing her to fear for her life, during violent rages brought on by alcohol or drugs, sometimes when he had falsely accused her of infidelity. "For the avoidance of any doubt, I have never abused Ms Heard, or, indeed, any other woman, in my life," Depp said in a witness statement in which he characterised his ex-wife as a calculating, emotionally dishonest narcissist. Wearing a dark suit and glasses and speaking in a deep clear tone, Depp gave evidence at the beginning of the case at London s High Court. Heard, who arrived wearing a red scarf tied around her face, is also due to give evidence. In a written statement outlining Depp s case, his lawyer David Sherborne said Heard had first aired the abuse allegations in May 2016, saying it was hard to think of "more extreme or violent" claims of abuse than she would make during the trial. "The Claimant s position is clear; Ms Heard s allegations are complete lies," Sherborne said. "The Claimant was not violent towards Ms Heard, it was she who was violent to him." In papers submitted to the court, Depp s team also said Heard had begun an affair with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk in early 2015 shortly after they had got married and had engaged in at least one extra-marital relationship with her co-stars, with actor James Franco named. Appearing in the witness box, American Depp said he was the victim of attacks from his ex-wife and had himself sought to avoid confrontation. "I would try to go to my own corner as it were," he said. Asked about one argument, Depp said: "It escalated and it got physical ... Miss Heard struck me." THREE-WEEK CASE The couple met on the set of the 2011 film "The Rum Diary" and married in February 2015. Heard filed for divorce after 15 months, and days later obtained a restraining order against Depp. Their divorce was finalised in 2017 when the restraining order was dismissed. Cross-examined by lawyer Sasha Wass, Depp agreed he had taken "every drug known to man" by the age of 14 and said he had a difficult childhood and struggled to come to terms with his fame and success. "Even when I speak my own name it sounds foreign to me," he said. The court was shown mobile phone footage taken by Heard which showed an angry Depp slamming kitchen cupboard doors and pouring himself a "mega" glass of wine. "I can only say I was upset, very upset," he said, adding it was not a pleasant video to watch. Wass said he would turn into an alternate persona which he himself described as "the monster", which was brought on by anger, jealousy or drugs. He said "the monster" Heard referred to was when he yelled back at her in arguments. "It would become a screaming match and that was the monster," he said. "It s not Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde." Depp denied Wass s suggestion that he had a "nasty, angry side". Depp is also being sued by a crew member from one of his films in 2018 who accused him of punching him twice in the ribs, the court heard. Wass recounted a statement from actress Ellen Barkin, who said Depp had thrown a bottle of wine across a hotel room on one occasion and had got jealous and angry. "Untrue," Depp replied, saying Barkin held a grudge. "I do not have an anger management problem." In his witness statement, Depp said Heard had thrown a vodka bottle at him, severing his finger off, and that his ex-wife or one of her friends had defecated in their bed. The case is set to last for three weeks, the judge, Andrew Nicol, said. Also due to give evidence via videolink are Vanessa Paradis, Depp s former partner, and actress Winona Ryder.
Egypt s film Photocopy (2017) will open the ninth Arab International Film Festival which is scheduled to take place between 16 and 21 July at Busan Cinema Centre, Seoul, Korea. The festival will screen over 10 films by numerous Arab directors, with Photocopy being the only entry from Egypt. Directed by Tamer El-Ashry, Photocopy is written by Haitham Dabbour, and stars veteran actor Mahmoud Hemeida alongside Sherin Reda, Ali Tayeb, Ahmed Dash, Farah Yousef and Bayoumi Fouad. The film focuses on a retired man in Cairo who begins to learn about the extinction of dinosaurs. This sets off a series of events that will give his life renewed meaning. Photocopy garnered several awards, including the Gouna Star for Best Arab Feature Narrative from the El Gouna film festival where the film premiered. It went on to receive the best feature narrative award at the Tripoli Film Festival (2018) in Lebanon, best scriptwriting at the Ohran Arab Film festival (2018), best film at the Geneva International Oriental Film Festival (2019) and best film-audience award at the Malmö Arab Film Festival (2018), among several other recognitions. Apart of opening the festival, Photocopy will be also screened throughout the festival days. Among the highlights of the Arab films screened during the event are The Cave (Syria, 2019), Heritages (Lebanon, 2013), The Unknown Saint (Morocco, 2019), Haifa Street (Iraq, 2019), and It Must Be Heaven (Palestine, 2019). The Arab Women Filmmakers Now section of the festival will feature 17 (Jordan, 2017), Noura’s Dream (Tunisia, 2019), Scales (Saudi Arabia, 2019), The Perfect Candidate (Saudi Arabia, 2019), and Papicha (Algeria, 2019). The Korean Arab Film Festival is a non-competitive event hosted by the Korea-Arab Society with screenings taking place in cinema halls of the Busan Cinema Centre, a large complex that offers indoor and outdoor screening facilities. Launched in 2011, the centre is also an official venue for Busan International Film Festival (BIFF).
Veteran Belgian actor Jean-Claude Van Damme mourned the death of Egyptian actress Ragaa El-Giddawy who died on Sunday following a 43-day battle with the coronavirus. On his Instagram account Van Damme wrote "I m in shock! It s very sad to read that legendary Egyptain actress Ragaa El-Giddawy has passed away after a brave battle against coronavirus. I met her a few months ago, she was so full of life, cheerful and majestic – I cannot believe she s gone… but, she will always live in my memory with her lovely spirit and beautiful laughs. May Allah bless her soul." El-Giddawy was hospitalised on 24 May after being infected with the virus, and had since mostly been kept in the intensive care unit (ICU) at an isolation hospital in Ismailia, east of Cairo. Nagaat Aly Hassan El-Giddawy, aka Ragaa El-Giddawy, was elected “Miss Cotton 1958”, giving her the chance to become a mannequin. El-Giddawy, 81, is one of Egypt’s most beloved and prolific actresses with a career dating back to the late 1950s. She was married to football player Hassan Mokhtar and had a daughter, Amira. El-Giddawy started acting in cinema and theatre with her aunt Tahia Karioka, an iconic belly-dancer in the history of Egyptian cinema. She appeared in hundreds of films, plays and TV shows throughout a fruitful six-decade career, collaborating with almost all of the country s best writers, directors and actors of successive generations.
BAALBEK, Lebanon (Reuters) — The usually grand Baalbek Music Festival, set among 3,000-year-old Roman ruins in Lebanon, was reduced to just a single concert this year by the COVID-19 pandemic. For maestro Harout Fazlian, however, it was one of the most special of his career. On a stage in the ancient temple of Bacchus, Fazlian conducted the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra and three choirs in an hour-long concert that included works by the Lebanese composer brothers Assi and Mansour Rahbani, Verdi and Beethoven. There were no crowds due coronavirus restrictions, but the performance, captured by 14 cameras and drones, was broadcast live on almost all the main Lebanese TV stations as well as streamed online. “Every person will have a front row seat,” said Fazlian, who came up with the idea during Lebanon’s coronavirus lockdown two months ago. “This beautiful temple has gone through so much for 3,000 years, but it has survived, and we will survive.” Lebanon’s glamorous music festivals — which once attracted jazz legends like Nina Simone, and the great Arab singers Um Kulthoum and Fairuz — were already struggling. Economic woes and regional conflict hit organizers in recent years. Fazlian said he wanted to send “a message of hope and solidarity” as Lebanon sinks deep into the worst financial meltdown of its history, compounded by the global coronavirus pandemic. His was the only concert of the Baalbek music festival this year, Lebanon’s oldest, which since 1956 helped make the country a cultural lodestar for the region. Nayla De Freij, head of the Baalbek festival committee, said all the artists and technicians worked on Sunday’s massive project for free. “It’s like a big scream that we want life to go on,” she said. ___ Reporting by Issam Abdallah; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky Image: Musicians from Lebanon’s philharmonic orchestra are seen on stage before the start of “Sound of Resilience” concert of the Baalbeck music festival, which was broadcasted live with no audience, in Baalbeck, Lebanon July 5, 2020. (REUTERS/Aziz Taher)
Veteran Egyptian actress Ragaa al-Gedawy, 86, has died of health complications following her infection with the coronavirus. The staff of Ismailia’s Abu Khalifa isolation hospital performed Gedawy’s funeral rites on Sunday in careful accordance with coronavirus precautions. Staff at the hospital used plasma therapy in an effort to improve the actress’s condition, but it failed to stop her health from deteriorating due to her advanced age and weak immunity. A hospital source said that Gedawy died of a massive drop in blood circulation after she had trouble breathing and needed to be hooked on a ventilator while undergoing her treatment at the intensive care unit. Gedawy tested positive for the coronavirus back in May after wrapping up shooting for her role in the TV series “Lebet al-Nesian” (The Oblivion Game), and was quarantined at the Abu Khalifa hospital. An ambulance reserved for coronavirus deaths transferred Gedawy to her family cemetery in Cairo. Born in Ismailia in 1934, Gedawy moved to Cairo with her older brother and enrolled in Cairo’s Franciscan schools where she learned French and Italian at an early age. She then worked in the translation department of an advertising company, and later won the Miss Egypt Award in 1958. After working as a fashion model, Gedawy eventually moved on to a long, illustrious career in cinema.
Cairo’s Sawy Culture Wheel will resume performances on Thursday, starting with two puppet shows featuring the music of “Umm Kulthum” at 6 and 8 pm in the al-Nahr “River” hall, according to a statement by the center. Audience attendance will not exceed 25 percent, the events space said. The venue pledges to carry out protective measures against coronavirus and to prevent people without face masks from entering the shows. In order to encourage social distancing, the venue will place photos of veteran artists on empty chairs between audience members. Two songs will be performed by the puppet “Umm Kulthum,” accompanied by a complete orchestra. The puppet show will be performed on the first Thursday of every month.
In his last speech, president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi called on the Egyptian people to be as brave and powerful as lions and work hard each in his position. He added that this way Egypt would be so powerful as great lion that nobody can threaten. I remembered this story that my mother used to tell me. The story says a great lion woke up to see a small mouse falling on his leg. The lion grew angry and decided to kill