Thursday 17th December 2020
A team of 10 international scientists will travel to Wuhan, China, next month. This is to investigate the origins of Covid-19. The World Health Organisation has been trying to gain access to the city for a number of months. The virus is thought to have come from a market in the city selling animals. But the investigation into what started the virus has caused tension, especially with the United States. President Donald Trump's administration has accused China of trying to cover up the initial outbreak.
In Singapore, it was revealed that almost half of the migrant workers have been infected with Covid-19 in the past nine months. New data by Singapore’s ministry of health shows that 150,000 foreign workers have been infected. Out of Singapore's 59,000 total positive tests, 93% have been from the migrant worker community. In response to the high infection rate, many of the apartments holding thousands of workers were placed under quarantine in April. This meant locking the workers inside.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Europeans to wear masks during family gatherings at Christmas. It said Europe was at "high risk" of a new wave of coronavirus infections in the early part of 2021. Countries across the continent have been registering thousands of daily cases and hundreds of deaths. Germany was among countries tightening restrictions yesterday, closing schools and non-essential businesses.
In the UK, Boris Johnson urged everyone yesterday to have a "smaller but safer Christmas" this year to reduce the spread of the virus. He suggested people should think about delaying meeting elderly relatives until they had been vaccinated.
"So, while it would not be right, we think, to criminalise people who've made plans and simply want to spend time with their loved ones; we're collectively, across the UK, governments at every level, asking you to think hard and in detail about the days ahead and whether you can do more to protect yourself and others. But keeping the laws the same, we all want to send the same message: A smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas."
In Yemen, an invasion of desert locusts is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people. Locusts are types of grasshoppers that feed off crops. A single Desert Locust swarm, which can contain up to 150 million insects, is capable of eating as much food in a day, as 35,000 people. Despite a year of control efforts, these grasshoppers have been breeding in eastern Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Yemen. This year has already seen the worst East Africa locust invasion in 70 years.
In Northern Nigeria, many states have ordered all schools to close following last week's kidnapping of hundreds of pupils. The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has said it was behind the raid. More than 300 children are still missing, raising fears for the safety of other schools, especially those in remote areas.
In the United States, Dr Anthony Fauci has called this week's US vaccine distribution a "bittersweet" moment, as it happened alongside the country's 300,000th Covid death.
"As wonderful as this is because its been an extraordinary manifestation of the fruits of science done in a very rapid way, its also bittersweet because you know the other day at the time that the vaccine was first rolled out and put into someones arm, we reached the 300,000 death in the United States from this virus. So we should celebrate the fact that the science has come through but it is not over yet, we have a ways to go."
In Peru, a police drugs-squad has raided a house dressed as Santa Claus and an elf. The police detained a suspected drug dealer accused of selling drugs outside his house, near a school. The country's police are known to use disguises during their raids and say it is an effective method. A common disguise the police use is dressing as a homeless person.
And finally in Australia, researchers have found that Kangaroos are able to communicate with people and "ask for help”. The research challenges the idea that only domesticated animals like cats and dogs can ask for help. This study could help further understand kangaroos in captivity.