China invites Taiwanese to get vaccinated
China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory and has repeatedly offered to send vaccines to the island, which is battling a spike in domestic infections but has expressed concern about the safety of Chinese shots and has not cleared them for use.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement two Chinese-made vaccines had been granted emergency use authorisation by the World Health Organization and its shots were in use or approved by more than 90 countries, showing their safety and efficacy.
People in Taiwan can come to China to get vaccinated against Covid, provided they strictly comply with China’s pandemic control measures, the office said.
It urged Taiwan’s government to “quickly remove artificial obstacles for mainland vaccines being sent to Taiwan and allow the broad mass of Taiwan compatriots to receive the safe and highly effective mainland vaccines”.
Only 3% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one shot, though millions of doses are on order. Japan donated 1.24 million AstraZeneca Plc shots last week and the United States has pledged 750,000 doses, which have yet to arrive.
Still, China’s offer is not likely to be attractive to many Taiwanese. A poll by Taipei’s National Chengchi University last month showed most people would not be willing to get a Chinese vaccine.
G7 leaders to discuss post-Covid reconstruction
But the health crisis is still presenting hosts the UK with a major challenge, to prevent the virus spreading among participants, AFP reports.
The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US will notably discuss post-pandemic reconstruction at the three-day talks in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
Fair distribution of anti-Covid vaccines and climate change will also be on the agenda at the picturesque seaside resort in south-west England.
All leaders have been at least partially vaccinated against Covid-19.
They will be joined by their counterparts from the European Union, and invited guests from Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa.
Most will attend in person, although India’s prime minister Narendra Modi will take part virtually because of the rapid spread of a new variant of the virus back home.
Normally, G7 summits are attended by thousands of journalists but the number of accreditations this year has been drastically reduced because of social distancing requirements.
And most of those who have managed to secure a pass will be kept at a distance, at a media centre in Falmouth, 36 kilometres (23 miles) by road from Carbis Bay.
Japan may downgrade emergency until Olympics
New coronavirus infections in Olympics city Tokyo have inched down during the last month of emergency restrictions although authorities remain concerned about the spread of variants and the continued strain on medical resources.
The Mainichi newspaper reported on Friday the government would ask restaurants to keep shorter hours and impose other curbs under the targeted quasi-emergency measures. Bars and restaurants are now asked to close by 8 p.m. and are banned from serving alcohol.
A final decision is expected late next week, a few days before the end of the current emergency state, which also covers the northern island of Hokkaido, host of the marathon event.
Polls have shown a majority of the Japanese public opposes holding the Games this year, worried about the flood of athletes and officials from overseas. Japan has effectively been closed to foreign visitors since the pandemic broke out last year.
The Japanese government and Olympic organisers have said the Games would go ahead – barring “Armageddon”, as one International Olympic Committee (IOC) member put it. The Olympics are scheduled to start on 23 July.
Here are today’s top stories so far:
G7 leaders meet this weekend for the first time in nearly two years, after the global coronavirus pandemic forced last year’s event to be cancelled.
The Japanese government is considering ending a state of emergency in Tokyo and several other prefectures as scheduled on June 20, but keeping a downgraded “quasi-emergency” state until the Olympics start in July, the Mainichi daily reported.
Here are the other key developments from the last few hours:
- South Africa has entered its third wave of Covid-19 infections as the continent’s worst-hit country registered 9,149 new cases, Reuters reports.
- Covid-19 case rates have increased across every region in England with a sharp rise in the North West, new figures show.
- The discovery of several thousand unreported deaths in the state of Bihar, India, has raised suspicion that many more coronavirus victims have not been included in official figures. The health department in Bihar revised its total Covid-19 related death toll to more than 9,429 from about 5,424 on Wednesday. The newly-reported deaths had occurred last month and state officials were investigating the lapse, a district health official said, blaming the oversight on private hospitals.
- The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said it was necessary to know the origins of Covid-19 and investigators needed to have full access to sites which could shed lights on the matter
- The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency says that the coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented and profound effect on human rights, fuelling racism and child abuse. The annual report says: “The pandemic and the reactions it triggered exacerbated existing challenges and inequalities in all areas of life, especially affecting vulnerable groups.”
- Ukraine has reiterated that it will not allow foreigners inoculated with the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik into the country if they do not also provide a negative test for the coronavirus.
- Bulgaria plans to lift the compulsory wearing of face masks in gyms, hairdressing salons, small shops and offices where all workers are vaccinated as coronavirus infections decrease.
- Denmark will ditch the use of masks in most public spaces and allow 25,000 fans to attend European Championship matches in Copenhagen
- Russia’s Covid numbers have been at a remarkably steady uniform level for months on end, but this week the official case tally is seeing a steady rise, and today was the highest number for three months at 11,699
- The EU decided not to take up an option to buy 100m doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in March, European officials have said.
- A 52-year-old woman from New South Wales who died after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine is “likely” Australia’s second death from a rare and severe blood clotting syndrome linked to the Covid vaccine, Australia’s drugs regulator says.
- Hong Kong’s government said this morning that it would review its plan for a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore in early July, after the proposal was derailed for a second time in May due to a surge of cases in Singapore.