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WHO tackles new strains as China logs first Covid death in 8 months
health experts gather on Thursday to tackle new strains of the coronavirus
blamed for a fresh surge in infections after China recorded its first Covid-19
death in eight months.
World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee session comes with their
colleagues seeking the origins of the virus on a long-delayed mission to the
pandemic ground zero in Wuhan.
two million of the more than 91 million people who have caught the disease have
died, but the figures are widely believed to be an underestimate.
Much of the planet is facing a second or third wave of infections,
with populations chafing under painful and economically damaging restrictions.
Lebanon went into full lockdown on Thursday with residents barred
even from grocery shopping.
France is hoping to avoid another national lockdown with the
government due to announce tighter controls such as an extended night curfew
across the country.
But there was better news for those who have already had Covid-19,
with a British study suggesting recovery can confer immunity for at least five
The research will be welcomed by UK healthcare workers struggling
to cope with surging caseloads and a new, more infectious strain of the virus.
That strain, and another identified in South Africa, was going
under the WHO microscope in Geneva on Thursday after being logged in dozens of
WHO’s emergency committee normally gathers every three months, but
the meeting was brought forward “to consider issues that need urgent
In China, millions of people have been locked down again to try to
tame a fresh outbreak that has now claimed its first victim.
– Long journey –
The hashtag “New virus death in Hebei” quickly ratcheted
up 100 million views on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
“I haven’t seen the words ‘virusdeath’ in so long, it’s a bit
shocking! I hope the epidemic can pass soon,” one user wrote.
The death comes as a 10-strong investigation team arrived in
Wuhan, where the virus emerged in late 2019.
Mission leader Peter Ben Embarek said they would enter a two-week
hotel quarantine before the probe begins in earnest.
It “could be a very long journey before we get a full
understanding of what happened.” he cautioned.
Beijing has argued Wuhan might not be where the virus originated,
only where it was first identified.
Regardless of origins, scientists say large-scale vaccination is
the only way out.