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Austria has approved making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for adults. PHOTO: REUTERS

Austria makes Covid-19 vaccination mandatory in EU first

Austria's parliament on Thursday approved making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for adults from next month, becoming the first European country to do so despite a wave of protests opposing the measure.

Tens of thousands have demonstrated against mandatory vaccination in regular weekend rallies since the measure was announced in November in a bid to drive up the country's vaccination rate.

All parties, except the far-right, supported the measure, with the new legislation passing with 137 votes in favour and 33 votes against it in the 183-seat parliament.

To date, 72 per cent of Austrian residents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus - in line with the European Union-wide average of just more than 70 per cent, but several percentage points below regional neighbours such as Italy and France.


Huge blast in Ghana kills residents, fells buildings

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An explosion in Ghana's rural Western Region on Thursday razed hundreds of buildings and killed an unknown number of residents when a truck carrying explosives to a gold mine collided with a motorcycle.

Unverified videos posted on local media showed a large, smouldering blast site in which buildings had been reduced to piles of wood, brick and twisted metal.

In one video, two bodies are seen crumpled on the ground, covered in dust. A photo shared by a local council member showed a deep crater at the epicentre of the blast, onlookers peering down from its rim.


Recruiters say 'no amount of money' can lure bankers to HK

Hong Kong's status as a magnet for international financiers is cratering as firms struggle to coax traders and bankers to move to the once vibrant trading hub.

Seeking to fill jobs, headhunters are finding they can only recruit candidates who are already in Hong Kong. The crunch comes as the former British colony is dealing with a growing outflow of expatriates who are frustrated with the city's strict zero-Covid-19 policies. They're abandoning a city where low taxes, ease of travel, top class schools and a vibrant night-life once proved a potent lure.

For some candidates, "no amount of money is going to convince a candidate to go to Hong Kong," said Jason Kennedy, founder of London-based recruiting firm Kennedy Group, which hires traders for hedge funds with offices across Asia. "They would rather choose Singapore. It's a lifestyle balance, even for traders."


Iceberg released 'billions of tonnes' of fresh water into ocean

A giant iceberg that detached from Antarctica in 2017 released the equivalent of 61 million Olympic-sized swimming pools of fresh water as it melted, according to research published on Thursday, raising questions over the impact on the marine ecosystem.

The monstrous iceberg was twice the size of Luxembourg when it separated from the Larsen ice shelf, which has warmed faster than any other part of Earth's southernmost continent.

At 5,719 square kilometres, it was the biggest iceberg on Earth when it formed and the sixth-largest on record, according to the British Antarctic Survey.


Football: Jota double fires Liverpool into League Cup final

Diogo Jota fired Liverpool into the League Cup final against Chelsea as the Portugal forward's double sealed a 2-0 win at Arsenal in the semi-final second leg on Thursday.

Jota put Liverpool on course for Wembley with a first half strike and he clinched their berth with a late second goal in north London.

Jurgen Klopp's side will face Chelsea in the final on Feb 27.


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