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Covid-19: 14 nations raise concerns over WHO-China joint report

Washington: A group of 14 countries including the United States and Japan has raised concerns over a report on the origins of COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and China, arguing that the WHO team was “significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples.”

The WHO released a long-awaited joint report on the origins of COVID-19 on March 30. The report pointed to the transmission from bats to another animal and subsequently to humans as the most likely way the pandemic began.

The United States, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia and Israel said in a statement that they “fully” supported the WHO’s efforts to bring an end to the pandemic, including understanding how it “started and spread”.

But they added it was “essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples”.

Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia and the United Kingdom also co-signed the statement.

The review, which was conducted by a WHO team of international experts in Wuhan, China, between January 14 and February 10, is considered a first step in what will likely become a years-long investigation into the virus’ origins.

Separately, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also demanded further research to reach “more robust conclusions”, Al Jazeera reported.

“I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough,” he said during a news briefing recently.

“Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy,” Tedros added.

China has been criticized widely across the world for its alleged role in the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected over 127 million people across the world. More than 2.79 million people have lost their lives to the virus, as per Johns Hopkins University.

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International Latest News

Covid virus leak from lab ‘extremely unlikely’: WHO

Wuhan: While saying that “accidents do happen,” a team of international experts, including those from the World Health Organization (WHO), investigating the origins of Covid-19 said that laboratory leak of the virus is “extremely unlikely.”

Addressing a press conference at the end of the joint WHO-China study, more than a year after the initial cases of Covid-19 were reported from Wuhan in China’s western Hubei province, Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO mission, said more work was required to identify the source of the virus.

Liang Wannian, a member of the WHO-China joint study team, said that there is no evidence of transmission of the novel coronavirus before December 2019 in Wuhan.

The experts did not even deny the possibility that novel coronavirus cases could have been prevalent in other regions even before the early cases were detected in Wuhan.

Their research suggests that Wuhan could just be one of the first places where the virus spread.

The “wet market” in Huanan which was linked to some of initial human cases was also one of the focus areas of the study.

While it is possible that the virus may have jumped from animals to humans, the team investigating the origin of the virus said they do not have any proof.

Bats and pangolins are thought to be possible sources of the virus, but conclusive evidence is still lacking.

The WHO team also emphasized on studying the possibility of the transmission of the virus through imported frozen food, along with other possibilities.

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Latest News USA

Lessons from the 2020 presidential election

By Vibhuti Jha 

Executive Director & Board of Director, Nalanda International 

The election is over, but the results are yet to be certified despite record breaking voter participation by the American people. The enthusiasm crossed party lines, with both candidates scoring highest ever votes.

There is so much to talk about as learning lessons from the 2020 elections. From the Indian American point of view I will list a few of my thoughts so that we make sure we do something about them to be a stronger alternative as a community instead of having our scattered strength! If Indians need to be counted, then let’s not repeat the mistakes again!

  1. Hindus have no institutional backing or support – we create sporadic groups but the existing organizations are virtually impotent. Look at CAIR or Indian American Muslim Council – they run repeated political initiatives but the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) or the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) refrain from political postures and virtually end up doing nothing. It’s important for organizations such as these to ensure the minority Hindu voices are not only heard but protected as well.
  2. Reportedly 72% Indian Americans voted for Democrats. We Indians are not clear why we vote almost en bloc for Democrats. It would be better to have an internal dialogue as to what is important for us as a community or do we just give in to emotional whims and fancies of a few? Some elements believe that all that matters is a pro-immigration stand by the Democrats to “bag” the Indian vote! It ends up being a pathetic sell-out for “immigration”.

  1. Hindus must look at the statement that Muslim organizations have made; they said, “we don’t want to be forgotten after vote is over, we want equal seat at the table”. You got to applaud their clear vision! They have a strategy to remain relevant and stay engaged! We Hindus have none! I have said on my TV programs that Hindus face existential threat not because 1.3 billion people will vaporize overnight but because we will not be relevant to anyone despite being useful – we will remain professionals available for a fee for a designated purpose only!!

  1. We wake up too late and end up wailing and crying at the supposed “injustices” meted out to us since other groups negotiated better outcomes for themselves. Let’s look forward to 2022 and 2024 to ensure we get engaged with the political process of this country.

  1. The elections in five battleground states of PA, WI, NV, MI and GA are going through challenges in the judicial process. We will have to await the outcomes. It’s amazing the election process as we are witnessing today was envisaged by the Founding Fathers provided for such exigencies in the Constitution. Candidate  Trump is taking advantage of the provisions to ensure all legal votes are counted.

  1. At long last we seem to have a vaccine against Wuhanvirus! Now we also must investigate thoroughly who really created it to cause millions of cases and deaths, trillions of dollars vaporized from the economies all over the world, lives changed, social customs and cultures destroyed, permanent disappearance of many traditional jobs and employment scenarios! The guilty must be punished and there has to be a clear accountability for this unmitigated disaster.

Times have changed, we better get ready for the change !

Happy Diwali to all readers of The South Asian Times.

thesatime | The Southasian times

Vibhuti Jha 

Executive Director & Board of Director, Nalanda International 

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coronavirus International USA

Coronavirus cases in US surpass 2 mn: Johns Hopkins

Washington: The US tally Of Covid-19 cases crossed the 20 lakh mark and the death toll stood at 1.12 lakh, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday morning, the overall number of cases stood at 2,000,464, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) showed in its latest update.

In Arizona, three weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his stay-at-home order, there has been a big spike in the number of coronavirus cases with lawmakers and medical professionals warning there might not be enough emergency room beds to handle what could be a big influx of new cases, NBC news reported.

New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, remains the hardest-hit with 380,156 cases and 30,542 fatalities.

Other states with over 100,000 cases include New Jersey, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts, the CSSE data showed.

The number of new infections around the US rose three per cent in the first week of June — the first increase after five weeks of declines, according to an analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates 145,728 Covid-19 deaths in the US by August. In the worst-case scenario, that number is likely to reach as high as 166,000.

Worldwide, the pandemic has infected over 7.2 million people and killed over 410,000, according to Johns Hopkins.

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