A foreign tourist (R) holds a surfboard before bowding on a boat heading to a surfing spot in Bali, Indonesia, on Friday.
A foreign tourist (R) holds a surfboard before bowding on a boat heading to a surfing spot in Bali, Indonesia, on Friday.
—AFP

Beijing

As the World Health Organisation draws up plans for the next phase of its probe of how the coronavirus pandemic started, an increasing number of scientists say the UN agency it isn’t up to the task and shouldn’t be the one to investigate.

Numerous experts, some with strong ties to WHO, say political tensions between the US and China make it impossible for an investigation by the agency to find credible answers.

They say what’s needed is a broad, independent analysis closer to what happened in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The first part of a joint WHO-China study of how Covid-19 started concluded in March that the virus probably jumped to humans from animals and that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely”.

The next phase might try to examine the first human cases in more detail or pinpoint the animals responsible — possibly bats, perhaps by way of some intermediate creature.

Russia sees record deaths for 4th straight day

Russia on Friday reported 679 deaths, a record number of pandemic-related fatalities over a 24-hour period for the 4th day in a row. Russia, the 5th worst-hit country in the world, is battling a surging outbreak driven by the highly infectious Delta variant and worsened by a lagging vaccination drive.

Australia further curbs new arrivals

Australia plans to halve commercial passenger arrivals due to virus risks as parts of the country emerged from lockdowns Friday. Australia will reduce its cap on arrivals from 6,000 passengers a week to 3,000 by July 14 to reduce pressure on hotel quarantine, PM Scott Morrison said.

Delta cases rise by 50,824 in UK, hospitalisations low

The Delta variant continues to spread in the UK with a further 50,824 cases logged on Friday, marking a 46% rise over the previous week, according to health officials. While the infections are rising, there has not been a corresponding rise in hospitalisations with Covid-19, indicating the vaccinations are effective against the highly transmissible variant.

AZ jab: UK holidaymakers maybe barred from Europe

Up to 5 million Britons face being locked out of European holidays as their vaccines are not recognised by the EU’s passport scheme, the ‘Telegraph’ reported. Millions of vaccines administered in the UK do not qualify for the European Union’s vaccine passport scheme, because the shots were manufactured in India and are not yet authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The hitch could leave thousands of Britons turned away at EU border crossings when the batch numbers on their vaccines are checked digitally. The EU Digital Covid Certificate, which launched on Thursday, is designed to allow Covid-secure travel across the continent but does not recognise a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine called Covishield, produced by the Serum Ins­ti­tute of India (SII), because it is yet to receive approval in Europe.

Dashboard

- Delta variant to make up 80% of new cases in Germany

- Indonesia begins vaccination for kids aged 12 to 17 years

- Nepal to resume regular visa services for foreign residents

- C-vax cards required for domestic travel in Indonesia

- Nevada’s Washoe County confirms 1st Delta death

- Delta exposes the flaws of stop-start vaccination drives

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