5 Positive News Stories to Lift Your Spirits This Week

new zealand smoking ban

Positive News is an ongoing series from The Latch turning the spotlight on all the good in the world that you may have missed.

Life is tough and the news cycle ain’t helping anything right now. Disaster, drama, and death sell papers and get eyeballs on the page but they don’t do much for our mental health.

If you’ve felt like simply switching off from the constant barrage of updates charting the world’s lurch from one crisis to the next, we’re here to provide you with a much-needed antidote.

Good stuff happens all the time. It just doesn’t get quite the same coverage as bad stuff. That means we end up thinking that everything that’s going on in the world is terrible when it really isn’t.

Here are five of the best news stories we’ve seen this week to put a spring in your step and make the world feel just that little bit brighter.

Omicron Not as Bad as Expected

So, omicron. Not great, but, new reports suggest that it’s not nearly as bad as we had first feared.

The European Medicines Agency has said this week that infections from omicron so far appear to be “mostly mild” while hospitals in South Africa, where the new strain is spreading, have said that they are seeing far fewer people in intensive care than during the delta outbreak.

Pfizer has also noted that their vaccine should be effective against omicron and that booster jabs keep people’s immunity up, offering good protection against the new variant.

If these indications are true, it means that omicron shouldn’t stop Australia from opening up and that the country won’t have to go back into lockdown any time soon.

Baby Chimp Born in Rockhampton Zoo

Rockhampton Zoo’s primates have had a pretty rough year which has made the birth of a new baby chimp a welcome development.

26 year old chimpanzee who goes by the name Leaky gave birth to a baby at 8:30pm on Wednesday night, although zookeepers have yet to work out the sex of the new arrival.

Both the mother and the baby are said to be doing well, with keeper Blair Chapman telling the ABC that “Leaky is very relaxed and she has shown the keepers her baby.”

“Dad Alon is also really relaxed and that likely comes down to experience, being his third bub in four years.

“He was seen inspecting the baby very soon after birth.”

The new baby is the third chimp born in four years at the zoo in central Queensland.

New Zealand Bans Cigarettes

Our neighbours across the ditch have made a bold new move in the fight against the leading cause of preventable cancer by unveiling an ambitious new strategy to bar the sale of cigarettes.

With new laws that are set to take effect early next year, New Zealand has said that anyone born after the year 2010 will not be able to buy cigarettes when they reach the age of 18. It’s part of a range of measures that aims to see tobacco phased out of the country, including restricting the number of retailers allowed to sell it and cutting the level of nicotine allowed in cigarettes.

It’s a move that campaigners have said could save thousands of lives and marks the end of the line for the toxic and highly addictive habit in New Zealand.

Plastic Surgeon Has Given Away 37,000 Free Surgeries

Dr Subodh Kumar Singh grew up poor in the railway of Varanasi, India. His family manages to get the funds together to support him through medical school and, in 2002 on the anniversary of his fathers death, he began offering free surgical procedures to people who were born with a cleft palate.

Cleft palate is a birth defect that can be caused by genetic preconditioning that effects one in every 500-750 children born worldwide. It can be difficult to treat, with those in low income countries often having to go without treatment to correct the issue for life.

Singh decided to dedicate his life to bringing the smiles back to people born with this condition and has so far performed 37,000 surgeries throughout the past 20 years with his charity Smile Train.

Ecuador Bans Mining in Rainforest

The South American nation of Ecuador has prohibited the planned mining of the Los Cedros rainforest in the north-west of the country, saying that the move would violate the rights of nature.

Ecuador is one of few nations around the world where natural systems are granted rights under the Ecuadorian constitution and therefore cannot be developed without permission from the high court.

On Wednesday, the high court ruled to uphold the rights of the Los Cedros forest, saying that the rights of nature apply to all areas of the country, not just to protected areas.

This decision has saved one of the most biodiverse and complex ecosystems on the planet and sets a landmark precedent for future protections of the environment across the country.

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.