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WHO warns that China is under-representing Covid-19 impact

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The World Health Organization has warned that China is under-representing the true impact of Covid in the country – in particular deaths.

The removal of most restrictions last month has led to a surge in cases.

But China has stopped publishing daily cases data, and has announced only 22 Covid deaths since December, using its own strict criteria.

“We believe that definition [of a Covid death] is too narrow,” WHO emergencies director Dr Michael Ryan said.

Dr Ryan said China’s figures “under-represent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, and particularly in terms of deaths”.

No new Covid variants have been detected in China, despite the surge in cases. However, the WHO has warned this could be due to a decrease in testing.

However, more than a dozen nations have introduced travel restrictions on travellers from China. Beijing has criticised these as politically motivated and threatened to retaliate.

On Wednesday, the European Union issued new guidance “strongly” recommending that all member states introduce the requirement that passengers flying from China provide a negative Covid test before their departure.

However, also on Wednesday, the New Zealand government said it will not require travellers from China to produce a negative COVID-19 test on arrival.

(Excerpts : BBC / Aljazeera)

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Kamala Harris endorsed as new Democratic nominee as Biden steps down

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US President Joe Biden announces he’s withdrawing from the race to be the next president, after mounting pressure from Democrats.

He says his decision “is in the best interest of my party and the country” – but will stay on for the final six months of his term.

Biden has endorsed Kamala Harris, the current vice-president, to be the new Democratic nominee.

Former President Barack Obama says Biden is “one of America’s most consequential presidents”, praising him as a “patriot of the highest order”.

It comes four months before Americans go to the polls on 5 November.

Biden, 81, had faced increasing calls to step aside after a faltering debate performance against Republican candidate Donald Trump in June.

(BBC News)

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11 dead after bridge collapses in China (Video)

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Eleven people were confirmed dead as of Saturday morning following the partial collapse of a highway bridge in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, local authorities said.

The bridge, located at Zhashui County in Shangluo City, collapsed at approximately 20:40 on Friday due to a sudden downpour and flash floods, according to the provincial publicity department.

By 10:00 on Saturday, rescue teams had recovered five vehicles that had fallen into the river.

Rescue operations are still underway.

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105 killed in Bangladesh protests; nationwide curfew imposed

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At least 105 people have been killed in Bangladesh as police cracked down on unrelenting student-led protests against govt job quotas despite a ban on public gatherings.

The govt has decided to impose a nationwide curfew and deploy the army.

Earlier in the day, telecommunications were disrupted and television news channels went off the air.

Authorities had cut some mobile telephone services the previous day to try to quell the unrest. 

According to reports, police and security officials fired bullets and tear gas at protesters and banned all gatherings in the capital Dhaka. 

The protests, which began weeks ago but escalated sharply this week, represent the biggest challenge to PM Sheikh Hasina since she won a fourth consecutive term in office after the January polls.

The government has deployed police and paramilitary forces across the capital to lock down campuses and break up protests. 

On Wednesday, universities including the country’s largest suspended classes and closed dormitories, and on Friday police in Dhaka said they were banning all gatherings and demonstrations in the capital. 

According to foreign media, border guard officials fired at a crowd of more than 1,000 protesters who had gathered outside the head office of state-run Bangladesh Television, which was attacked on Thursday. 

The border guards shot at the crowd with rifles and sound grenades, while police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Bullets littered the streets, which were also marked by smears of blood. 

Internet services and mobile data were widely disrupted on Thursday night and remained down on Friday in the capital, Dhaka. 

Social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp were also not loading. A statement from the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission said they were unable to ensure service after their data center was attacked by demonstrators, who set fire to equipment. 

Student protesters said they will extend their calls to impose a shutdown on Friday, and urged mosques to hold funeral prayers for those who have been killed.

Source: Times Of India

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