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FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a news conference in Downing Street, in London, Britain, September 7, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville - 


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to address parliament and hold a news conference on Tuesday (Sep 14) about how to manage COVID-19 through the winter, a BBC reporter said on Saturday.

"The prime minister is expected to address both parliament and a news conference on Tuesday about the government's plan for managing Covid through the autumn and winter," BBC reporter Chris Mason said on Twitter.

"Officials are exploring contingency plans for what might become necessary if pressure on hospitals in England were to grow, such as the use of facemasks or working from home if possible."//CNA


People hold up Esteladas (Catalan separatist flag) during the National Day Catalonia, called 'La Diada', in Barcelona, S 2021. REUTERS/Albert Gea - 


Thousands of Catalans chanted, sang and waved flags as they marched through Barcelona on Saturday (Sep 11), calling for the region's independence from Spain.

The march, organised by the grassroots Assemblea Nacional Catalana [ANC], was the first since Spain's government pardoned nine Catalan separatist leaders who had been jailed for their role in a 2017 botched bid for independence, which was Spain's biggest political crisis in decades.

Most marchers wore face coverings. Police said about 108,000 people took part. ANC put the figure close to 400,000.

The figure was lower than in 2019, when about 600,000 marched, and last year, when only small static protests were organised to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Some of the nine pardoned politicians and activists attended Saturday's protests. In Catalonia, Sept. 11 marks La Diada, the anniversary of the fall of Barcelona to Spanish forces in 1714 and it has been marked in the past decade by separatist rallies.

"For the first time in four years, nine very special people have participated in La Diada again. The political prisoners are back on the streets," said ANC chairwoman Elisenda Paluzie.

Cultural activist Jordi Cuixart, who was among those jailed, urged the crowd to continue to fight for independence.

"Those who ask us to turn the page and do not want us to fight for self-determination... What is Spain's plan for Catalonia? None. Only repression and more repression," he said.

The protests took place at a moment of lower tension between Barcelona and Madrid than in past years as the central and regional governments favour dialogue despite their opposing views on independence.

The central and regional governments are expected to meet next week in Barcelona to resume talks on Catalonia's political conflict, which have been suspended since Feb 2020.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has not confirmed yet whether he will attend, and the talks risk being overshadowed by a recent clash between both governments related to Barcelona's airport.

The Spanish government has said it is cancelling a proposed 1.7-billion-euro (US$2-billion) investment to expand the airport, saying it lacked backing from regional authorities who have questioned its potential environmental impact while accusing Madrid of acting dishonestly//CNA


Polish medics march to demand higher health spending, in Warsaw, Poland September 11, 2021. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS - 


Thousands of Poland's healthcare workers marched through the streets of Warsaw on Saturday (Sep 11), demanding better pay and conditions as the country braces for a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many medical staff say coronavirus has laid bare failings in the country's health system and that careers in the sector are not attractive due to low wages and high levels of stress.

"We want decent jobs and wages ... I work now for about 500 hours a month, not for money, but because there is no one to work," said 41-year-old paramedic Wojciech Zdanowski.

Brandishing banners with slogans such as "Together for the good of patients" and "Sick country", nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and ambulance staff, many in uniform, gathered near the Supreme Court before marching through the centre of the capital.

Their demands include higher wages, hiring more administrative and support staff and steps to protect against physical and verbal aggression.

Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has dismissed the demands as too costly and unrealistic, involving an increase of around 105 billion zlotys (US$27.31 billion) that would push health spending to over 10per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

"Let's be serious, if at this moment we have a budget for health that is 120 or 130 billion zlotys and there is a demand to increase that by 100 billion... it goes completely beyond the bounds of good sense and reason," Niedzielski told private broadcaster Radio Zet on Friday.

In January 2020 a doctor with a specialisation earned on average almost 14,000 zlotys a month before tax, while nurses earned between 5,700 and 6,600 zlotys, according to health ministry data cited by daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

Poland, a country of around 38 million, has so far reported 2,893,173 cases of the coronavirus and 75,425 deaths//CNA


A boy holds a placard as anti-vaccine demonstrators wave Turkish flags during a protest against official coronavirus d related mandates, including vaccinations, tests and masks, in Istanbul, Turkey September 11, 2021. REUTERS/Murad Sez - 

More than 2,000 Turks demonstrated in Istanbul on Saturday (Sep 11) against official coronavirus-related mandates including vaccinations, tests and masks, responding to new government measures and an inoculation push.

In Turkey's largest such protest, mostly maskless people shouted slogans, held placards and Turkish flags, and sang songs in defence of what they called individual rights, echoing anti-vaccine rallies in some other countries.

"This pandemic is just going on with even more restrictions on our freedoms and there's no end to it," said Erdem Boz, 40, a software developer. "Masks, vaccines, PCR tests might all become mandatory. We're here to voice our discontent with this."

On Monday the government began requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for all users of intercity planes, buses and trains, as well as for those attending large events such as concerts or theatre performances.

All unvaccinated school employees are required to take a PCR test twice per week. Masks and social distancing are required in public.

Some 64 per cent of Turks have received two vaccine shots under a national programme that has administered more than 100 million jabs.

Still, about 23,000 new cases emerge daily, prompting the health minister, Fahrettin Koca, to warn this month of "a pandemic of the unvaccinated".

On Saturday, Koca said on Twitter: "Vaccines are the final solution! Rules are very necessary."

Protesters attending the government-approved rally in Istanbul's Maltepe district were not required to show proof of vaccination nor a negative test, according to Reuters witnesses. Police did not intervene.

"We're against all these mandates," said Aynur Buyruk Bilen, of the so-called Plandemic Resistance Movement. "I think that the vaccines aren't complete, and that it's an experimental liquid."

Turkey's top trending Twitter hashtag was: "Maltepe is everywhere, resistance is everywhere"//CNA