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WHO investigators fail to reach Wuhan, Davos 2021 postponed to summer and other Covid news

As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up, ThePrint highlights the most important stories on the crisis from across the globe.

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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count is above 2.43 crore cases and more than 8.29 lakh deaths.

The world’s central bankers are set to meet virtually for their annual meeting, instead of at Jackson Hole — to discuss the future of the global economy. China has already begun vaccinating some of its key public workers. All of Myanmar’s Rakhine province goes under lockdown. And what is the Qatar model?

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

Central bankers to meet online 

The annual meeting of world’s central bankers at Jackson Hole in the US’ Wyoming will be held online for the first time as they try and figure out the future course of economic policy in the pandemic era, reports the Financial Times.

According to the IMF, the global economy is set to contract by 4.9 per cent — the largest contraction since the tradition of this annual meeting began in 1980.

“Having rushed to engineer a massive policy response to the initial virus shock which briefly threatened to unleash a financial crisis, the world’s leading central banks face the next economic phase of the pandemic with a dwindling arsenal of monetary weapons and rising frustration that some key drivers of the recovery — both health and fiscal — are beyond their control,” says the report.

Davos 2021 postponed to summer

The 2021 edition of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos in Switzerland has been postponed to the summer, reports The Guardian.

“Regarded as a cornerstone event for international relations, business and the world economy, the event normally takes place at the end of January each year and is attended by heads of government, company chief executives, celebrities and activists from across the globe,” notes the report.

Also read: Self-driving cars try UV rays to kill coronavirus to assure riders

WHO investigation team fails to reach Wuhan

A group of World Health Organization (WHO) investigators aiming to trace the origins of the novel coronavirus failed to make it to Wuhan during their trip to China for this purpose, reports the Financial Times.

“A recently concluded three-week trip to China by the two-person WHO team did not entail a visit to Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the first cases of novel coronavirus were detected in December 2019, the UN agency has confirmed,” notes the report.

This has raised alarm bells in several capital cities across the world.

While a US official said, “Any chance of finding a smoking gun is now gone”, Australian MP Dave Sharma remarked, “The international community is right to have serious concerns about the rigour and independence of the WHO’s early response to this pandemic, and its seeming wish to avoid offending China.”

China is already vaccinating its workers

Chinese health authorities have been secretly testing the efficacy of a potential Covid-19 vaccine on its key public workers, reports the BBC.

“We know that half of the leading six candidate vaccines being tested in the final stage of mass trials across the world are Chinese. These global trials are a necessity. Ironically, China is not in a position to test the vaccines on the required scale at home because it’s been so successful at containing the spread of the virus within its borders,” says the report.

“Zheng Zhongwei from the National Health Commission told state-run television that emergency powers permitting the use of unapproved developmental vaccines allowed officials at the border and in other areas to be given a vaccine,” it adds.

According to Zhongwei, most of the country’s population should be vaccinated by the summer of 2021.

In Myanmar, all of Rakhine’s 3 mn residents under lockdown

Reacting to a rise in the number of coronavirus cases, Myanmar’s restive province of Rakhine expanded the lockdown, which now covers all of its 3 million residents, reports the Straits Times.

“More than 100 new infections were confirmed across Myanmar in 36 hours — the largest jump so far — bringing the total to 580, with most new cases in the northwestern state,” notes the report. “Rakhine is one of the poorest states in the country, with substandard healthcare facilities and a lack of access to education in some remote parts.”

The report adds, “It is also home to about 130,000 Rohingya Muslims displaced by conflict and confined to camps under what Amnesty International describes as “apartheid” conditions,” it adds.

Also read: China has been and will continue to be an important development partner, says Maldives

The Qatar model

Qatar currently has the highest number of per capita Covid cases in the world, but one of the lowest fatality rates — highlighting its pandemic response model, reports Al Jazeera.

Qatar has 40,702 cases per million — ahead of all other countries in the region and beyond. It has a population of 2.88 million, of which more than 2 million are migrants.

“Qatar’s health authorities are adamant their high per-capita infection rate is down to one factor above all: Testing. Almost 600,000 people have been tested for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday — that is more than a fifth of the population,” notes the report.

“Unlike some Gulf countries, which have opted for dragnet testing, Doha zeroed in on groups more vulnerable to infection, including migrant labourers and Qataris returning from overseas,” it adds.

Schools can reopen in Germany but it ‘won’t be smooth’

Schools in countries like Germany have reopened, but they are banking on a particular health formula, reports The New York Times.

“Social distancing and face masks are mandatory on most school grounds, but rarely inside classrooms, despite recent advice from the World Health Organization that children 12 and over wear masks when distancing is impossible. If students had to wear masks for several hours a day, the argument in Germany goes, their ability to learn would suffer,” informs the report.

“Instead, schools aim to better ventilate classrooms and keep classes separate so that each student has contact with only a few dozen others, and outbreaks can be contained,” it adds.

While some individual infections have been reported in various schools, there has been no serious outbreak.

Bare breasts allowed on French beaches, despite warnings

Following a kerfuffle, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin came out to defend women’s right to stay on beaches bare-breasted, reports The New York Times. This comes despite police warnings against the move.

“In France, where the bikini was invented nearly 75 years ago, being topless has been associated with women’s liberation since various movies in the 1960s and 1970s showed actresses like Brigitte Bardot or Miou-Miou bare-breasted outside,” notes the report.

What else we are reading:

Struggling designers find ways to help fight Covid in Indonesia: Al Jazeera

South Korea records most cases since March: The Guardian

Also read: Donald won’t rest until he takes care of everyone hit by Covid – Melania Trump takes soft line


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