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How WHO will uncover Covid origin, South Korea’s record spike in cases & other global news

As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up, ThePrint highlights the most important stories on the crisis from across the globe.

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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count being over 7.2 crore cases and more than 16 lakh deaths.

WHO has appointed experts and Chinese scientists to embark on mission to uncover the origins of coronavirus, South Korea records the largest single-day jump in cases and Mexico City is running out of hospital beds.

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

How WHO is planning to uncover Covid origin

The World Health Organization’s mission to uncover the origins of Covid-19 will begin “as soon as possible”, reports South China Morning Post. 

The WHO mission includes a team of 10 international experts who will be joining Chinese scientists and will follow a research plan, developed by experts.

The report elucidates the various phases the mission is expected to undertake, starting with identifying Patient Zero. This will be followed by attempting to identify the source animal of the virus. The report noted that none of the potential host animals tested so far have been identified as the source.

While reports have emerged indicating that Covid spread worldwide earlier than December 2019, most experts agree that the origin of the virus is China and Southeast Asia in general.

However, SCMP notes that the entire process of tracing the origin of the virus could take years.

China has reported 86,741 cases and 4,634 deaths, so far.

Also read: Iran says its economy grew 1.3% during pandemic on manufacturing and agriculture

South Korea sees record 1,030 cases amid ‘Covid emergency’

For the second day in a row, South Korea Sunday reported the largest single-day jump in the number of infections, reports Al Jazeera. 

Most cases are “linked to outbreaks at private gatherings, churches and a hospital in the Greater Seoul area,” the report notes.

While South Korea was praised for its early success in containing the Covid outbreak without a lockdown, a second wave of infections has rekindled concerns of acute shortage of hospital beds in the country.

The report quotes President Moon Jae-in as saying, “We will consider this as an emergency situation and put all-out efforts in a short period of time, using all available administrative ability.”

South Korea has reported 43,484 cases and 587 deaths.

Mexico City issues emergency call as hospital occupancy nears record numbers

Hospital occupancy numbers in Mexico city are approaching peak numbers, reports Mexico News Daily.

Last week, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum issued an emergency call as she detailed that there were 4,454 hospitals beds occupied, “just 119 shy of the 4,573 beds occupied on May 20”.

“The figure represents a 74% occupancy rate, well above the 65% threshold at which the city would be declared red on the coronavirus stoplight map,” the report notes.

Despite this, however, health authorities have not designated the city at the highest risk level in the coronavirus stoplight system.

The report quotes Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell as saying, “It’s not significant. [There’s an] alert for Covid-19, an emergency for Covid-19. Is there any doubt?”

Mexico has reported 12,50,044 cases and 1,13,953 deaths.

Also read: US hospitals prepare as Pfizer ships out first batches of Covid vaccine

Nearly 3,00,000 Covid deaths recorded in the US

The number of Covid-19 deaths in the US has nearly reached 3,00,000, reports The Washington Post.

About 50,000 of these deaths happened in the past four weeks and while the pace of the deaths eased during the summer, The Post states that with “the arrival of autumn and the holiday season, the virus surged anew in California, Texas and the South, and then in the Plains and the Midwest”.

The numbers also indicate that “nearly 1 of every 1,000 Americans already has died of Covid-19” which is “equivalent of losing the entire population of cities such as Orlando, Pittsburgh or St. Louis”, the report adds.

US has reported 16,737,267 cases and 2,99,328 deaths.

Spanish regions announce new Covid measures for Christmas season

Ahead of Christmas holidays, several regions in Spain have announced new measures to tackle Covid-19, reports El País.

In the Balearic islands, curfew will be pushed to 10 pm while in Andalusia the existing restrictions on mobility and social gatherings will remain in place and new measures will also be announced.

“In the Valencia region, authorities said that the borders will remain sealed until January 15,” the report notes.

It also quotes a letter written by the head of Spain’s Health Alert and Emergency Coordination Center (CCAES), Fernando Simón, and four others in The Lancet journal about the country’s Covid response.

“Politicization and an unfortunate climate of confrontation permeating different sectors makes effective crisis communication challenging and is likely to impair response efforts,” the letter read.

Spain has reported 17,41,439 cases and 47,624 deaths.

What else we are reading:

Has a year of living with Covid-19 rewired our brains?: The Guardian

‘Such is life’: In virus wards, death is a foe but a fact: The Associated Press

Also read: Angela Merkel orders Germany into hard lockdown as Covid cases surge


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