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Wednesday 31st March 2021

Asia

China has been accused of hiding data about COVID19 by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom. The statement, signed by 12 other countries, also criticised the report by the World Health Organization into the origins of the virus. Yesterday the head of the WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom said that the investigation was not extensive enough, and said that experts did not have full access to information during their visit to Wuhan, the Chinese City where the pandemic began. Most experts in the world believe that COVID19 passed from an animal to a human in Wuhan. This week the WHO said that the virus probably passed from bats to another animal and then to humans. Over 125 million cases have now been reported.

The leaders of India and Pakistan have exchanged letters. More information from Khadija Tahir...

Yesterday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan replied to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's letter, which Modi had sent on 23rd March, Pakistan's Republic day. Although the contents of both letters have been kept private, officials from both countries confirmed that the two Prime Ministers discussed peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. Khan spoke about the need to find solutions in the Kashmir region and sent his best wishes to India in the fight against COVID-19. India and Pakistan have had complicated relations since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Nepal has closed its schools because of air pollution. The government has ordered all schools to close for the rest of the week, as pollution levels have reached their highest rates since records began in 2016.

Africa

In Mali, United Nations investigators say that a French air attack killed 19 civilians in in January. The United Nations human rights team say that they looked at evidence from satellites and interviewed more than 400 people in the area before declaring that France had killed civilians. The report says that jihadist fighters were also killed in the attack. France has denied the report and says that only terrorists were killed. France also said that witnesses may be sympathetic to jihadist groups. The French military has been supporting the Malian army to fight against Islamist extremist groups since 2013.

Portugal has said that it will send soldiers to Mozambique, after the capture of the town of Palma by Jihadist groups. Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva said that around 60 soldiers would be sent to help the Mozambican army. Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

Americas

In Mexico and El Salvador there have been protests after the death of a Salvadoran migrant in Mexico. Victoria Esperanza Salazar died in the city of Tulum after a policewoman put her knee on Salazar’s neck. Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has described Salazar’s death as a murder. In a separate incident 15 Mexican soldiers were held captive yesterday by villagers, after a soldier killed a Guatemalan man. The soldier has been arrested.

In the United States 90% of adults will be able to ask for a COVID vaccine within 3 weeks, according to President Joe Biden. Around 30% of people in the United States have already received at least one dose of a vaccine. Some States, such as Texas, have told people that they don’t have to wear masks anymore. However, on Monday President Biden said that everyone should continue to wear masks...

“Im reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate. Please, this is not politics. Mask up. Mask up. It’s a patriotic duty.

Europe

In Slovakia Prime Minister Igor Matovic has resigned after a political crisis around coronavirus vaccines. The crisis was started a few weeks ago by a secret deal to buy 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The deal was made without the agreement of coalition partners. Slovakia has started to receive some of the Sputnik vaccine and is expected to use them. Hungary was the first country in the EU to start using the Russian vaccine, despite it not yet being approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Belarus has charged opposition leader Svetlana Tikanovskaya with terrorism. The government say that Tikhanovskaya planned tempted explosions and in the Belarussian capital, Minsk. Tikhanovskaya has been in exile in Poland since last year, when protests began against President Alexander Lukashenko who has ruled Belarus since 1994.

And the world’s economy will recover faster than previously expected, according to the director of the International Monetary Fund. Kristalina Georgieva said yesterday that fast vaccination campaigns and government support packages will help the world to recover from the pandemic.

Listeners - how do you want the world to change after the coronavirus pandemic? Has there been anything good from the last year that you would like to continue? Send your ideas by email to podcast@send7.org or by audio message at speakpipe.com/send7 Find transcripts and more at send7.org I am Stephen Devincenzi. Tomorrow you will be with Namitha Ragunath. Have a great day.

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