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A researcher works at the Wuhan Institute of Virology
China has angrily rejected claims that the pandemic started in the Wuhan Institute of VirologyImage: Chinatopix/AP/picture alliance
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Coronavirus digest: China rules out new WHO probe

August 13, 2021

China has rejected calls for a fresh investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. US intelligence officials are working on their own report. Follow DW for the latest.

https://p.dw.com/p/3yvvG

The Chinese government on Friday rejected fresh calls for a new investigation by the World Health Organization into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We oppose political tracing ... and abandoning the joint report,” vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu told reporters. "We support scientific tracing."

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently called for better access to data from Wuhan so the UN body could carry out a fresh probe.Image: Jaber Abdulkhaleg /AA/picture alliance

A joint WHO-China mission in January failed to establish that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

But some members of the team complained about the level of access that was given to them by Chinese authorities, who closely monitored the investigation.

An intelligence report ordered by US President Joe Biden into the origins of COVID-19 is expected to be delivered at the end of August.

Here is a roundup of other coronavirus news from around the world: 

Europe

French broadcaster BFM reported on Friday that more than 250,000 people are expected to take to the streets of France this weekend to demonstrate against the country’s so-called health pass scheme.

The report cited an internal memo from France’s domestic security services that said as many as 200 rallies are set to take place across the country.

According to the memo, 237,000 people turned out on Saturday for the fourth consecutive weekend amid anger at President Emmanuel Macron’s vaccine passport policy.

French protesters take to the streets against the country's vaccine passport scheme
More demonstrations are planned this weekend against France's so-called 'health pass' rulesImage: Sadak Souici/Le Pictorium/MAXPPP/dpa/picture alliance/dpa

It effectively bans the unvaccinated from restaurants, bars, cafes and even outdoor terraces.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 5,578 to 3,810,641, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

The reported death toll rose by 19 to 91,853, according to official figures.

Norway has struck a deal with US vaccine maker Moderna to secure an extra one million doses.

"With this delivery, adults above the age of 18 will be able to complete their vaccination during the first two weeks of September," Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement. 

Russia reported a record high of 815 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, as authorities said hospitalizations in the capital city halved over the past six weeks.

Middle East

Israel, which won praise for the pace of its vaccine rollout earlier this year, will now require children as young as three to take coronavirus tests to enter schools, swimming pools, hotels or sports halls.

The government is worried about a recent rise in infections that is being blamed on the Delta variant that was first discovered in India.

That is despite 60% of the country's population having received two doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. Booster shots are being offered to the over-50s.

 An elderly woman receives a booster shot at a nursing home in Netanya, Israel
Israel is now administering booster jabs to those over 50Image: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

North America

The less than 3% of Americans who are severely immunocompromised should be able to get an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, US regulators have said.

People who are on medication or have diseases that suppress their immune system may not have gotten adequate protection from their earlier jabs, according to the decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA is the body which signs off on the approval of medicines and other drugs in the United States.

It made no mention of those immune-compromised patients who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Asia-Pacific

Australia's largest city, Sydney, is set to send more 200 defense personnel into the streets to ensure locals are sticking to lockdown rules, an Australian military spokesperson told the Reuters news agency.

It comes as the state of New South Wales reported a record 390 new coronavirus infections and warned that cases numbers could rise over the coming days.

Officials in the capital Canberra said the city will remain locked down until there are no more COVID-19 infections.

The Australian Capital Territory, which comprises Canberra and two villages, has been ordered into a new lockdown for a week after a man tested positive on Thursday.

The tally of infections rose to six on Friday, with more than 1,800 people identified as close contacts of the original case since he became infectious.

After spectators were banned from stadiums during the Olympics, the Japanese national newspaper the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the Tokyo Paralympic Games will also be held mostly without spectators as Japan's capital remains under emergency lockdown.

Organizers have not commented on the report.

India's ruling party said it is set to secure some 266 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in August.

Jagat Prakash Nadda, president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said a faster approval process by regulators meant that more jabs would be available.

"It ensured clearance for manufacturing of Russia's Sputnik V in the country and just a few days back Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also been given clearance. In the coming days more vaccines will be available in India," he wrote in the Times of India newpaper.

South Korea's government has also secured more life-saving coronavirus jabs, the head of the country's disease control and prevention agency Jeong Eun-kyeong said.

Seoul has inked a deal with Pfizer for an extra 30 million doses for its vaccine, which was developed with Germany's BioNTech.

The announcement came as Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum urged South Koreans to cut back on holiday travel and work from home amid rising infections.

The Philippines has slapped a travel ban on India and nine other countries to the end of August amid fears of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, the presidential spokesperson said on Friday.

The travel ban, which was first imposed on April 27, now includes Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

jf/dj (AP, AFP, Reuters) 

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