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Hong Kong postpones elections for a year due to Coronavirus outbreak

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2022)

The Hong Kong government has postponed its parliamentary elections in September by a year due to a rise in the outbreak of Coronavirus, BBC reported.

Hong Kong is currently experiencing a rise in Covid-19 infections and based on the latest statistics, 121 new cases have been reported on Friday.

“However, the opposition has accused the government of using the pandemic as a pretext to stop people from voting. On Thursday, the government banned 12 pro-democracy candidates from running in the elections,” read the BBC report.

For 10 consecutive days, Hong Kong has registered more than 100 daily new cases.

The BBC report said, “Health experts have told the BBC that, with the reintroduction of social distancing measures, the rate of infection appears to have slowed, and they hope Hong Kong will be back to close to zero local infections within four to six weeks.”

This comes as HK has introduced strict new measures to fight the virus, banning gatherings of more than two people.

Hong Kong so far has had more than 3,273 confirmed cases of Coronavirus with 27 deaths and 1,751 recoveries.

COVID-19

Chinese hackers stole millions worth of US COVID relief money

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(Last Updated On: December 6, 2022)

Chinese hackers have stolen tens of millions of dollars worth of US COVID relief benefits since 2020, the Secret Service said on Monday.

The Secret Service declined to provide any additional details but confirmed a report by NBC News that said the Chinese hacking team that is reportedly responsible is known within the security research community as APT41 or Winnti, Reuters reported.

APT41 is a prolific cybercriminal group that had conducted a mix of government-backed cyber intrusions and financially motivated data breaches, according to experts.

According to Reuters several members of the hacking group were indicted in 2019 and 2020 by the U.S. Justice Department for spying on over 100 companies, including software development companies, telecommunications providers, social media firms, and video game developers.

“Regrettably, the Chinese Communist Party has chosen a different path of making China safe for cybercriminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China,” former Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said at the time.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

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Scientist involved with Wuhan lab says COVID has been ‘biggest cover up in history’

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

A scientist, Andrew Huff, who worked closely with the Wuhan lab has claimed in a new book that COVID was genetically engineered – and accidentally leaked from the facility.

Huff claims the issue is one of the greatest cover-ups in history – and the “biggest US intelligence failure since 9/11”.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology – a high-security lab specializing in coronaviruses – has for years been the focus of questions as to whether COVID could have escaped from its lab.

Both China and the lab have denied any allegations – but evidence of a lab leak has been piling up over the last two years as scientists, researchers and governments hunt for answers and step forward with evidence.

According to the UK’s Sun newspaper, which was provided with early access to the book, dozens of experts have suggested COVID could have escaped from the Wuhan lab through an infected researcher, improper disposal of waste, or potential breaches in the security at the site.

Even the head of the World Health Organisation reportedly believes COVID did leak from the lab after a “catastrophic accident”.

In his new book – The Truth About Wuhan – Huff claims the pandemic was the result of the US government’s funding of dangerous genetic engineering of coronaviruses in China.

The epidemiologist said China’s gain-of-function experiments – carried out with shoddy biosecurity – led to a lab leak at the US-funded Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Sun reported.

“EcoHealth Alliance and foreign laboratories did not have the adequate control measures in place for ensuring proper biosafety, biosecurity, and risk management, ultimately resulting in the lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said in his book.

EcoHealth Alliance, of which Huff was former vice president, had been studying different coronaviruses in bats for more than ten years with funding from the National Institutes of Health – and developed close working ties with the Wuhan lab.

Huff, who worked at EcoHealth Alliance from 2014 to 2016 and served as vice president from 2015, worked on the classified side of the research program as a US government scientist.

The army veteran, from Michigan, said the organization taught the Wuhan lab the “best existing methods to engineer bat coronaviruses to attack other species” for many years, the Sun reported.

“The US government is to blame for the transfer of dangerous biotechnology to the Chinese,” he said.

Speaking to The Sun Huff added: “I was terrified by what I saw. We were just handing them bioweapon technology.”

In his book, the emerging infectious diseases expert claims “greedy scientists killed millions of people globally” – and goes as far as to claim the US government covered it up, the Sun reported.

Huff said: “Nobody should be surprised that the Chinese lied about the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 and then went to extraordinary lengths to make it appear as if the disease naturally emerged.

“The shocking part of all of this is how the United States government lied to all of us.”

Although he pointed out he has seen no evidence China deliberately released the virus.

According to the Sun, Huff believes the US-funded project was “mostly a global fishing expedition for coronaviruses” to carry out a gain of function work or for intelligence collection – rather than preventing future pandemics.

“At the time, I felt like the project seemed more like intelligence collection than scientific research and development,” he said in his book.

He alleges the US was using the project to assess the bioweapon capabilities of foreign labs – including the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Huff said US government officials issued warnings in January 2018 about the Wuhan lab – including the major shortage of experts needed to safely manage research on deadly coronaviruses.

As he began to unravel the alleged extensive cover-up by the US government, he said the authorities launched a massive campaign of harassment against him.

He claimed military-grade drones would often appear at his home, he was stalked at the supermarket, and he was followed by unknown vehicles.

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Drop in COVID-19 alertness could create deadly new variant: WHO

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(Last Updated On: December 3, 2022)

Lapses in strategies to tackle COVID-19 this year continue to create the perfect conditions for a deadly new variant to emerge, as parts of China witness a rise in infections, the head of the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

The comments by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mark a change in tone just months after he said that the world has never been in a better position to end the pandemic.

“We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over, but we’re not there yet,” Tedros said on Friday.

The global health agency estimates that about 90 percent of the world’s population now has some level of immunity to Sars-Cov-2 either due to prior infection or vaccination, Reuters reported.

“Gaps in testing… and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern to emerge that could cause significant mortality,” Tedros said.

COVID-19 infections are at record highs in China and have started to rise in parts of Britain after months of decline.

Further easing of COVID-19 testing requirements and quarantine rules in some Chinese cities was met with a mix of relief and worry on Friday, as hundreds of millions await an expected shift in national virus policies after widespread social unrest.

“While COVID-19 and flu can be mild infections for many, we must not forget that they can cause severe illness or even death for those most vulnerable in our communities”, Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at the UK Health Security Agency, said.

The WHO urged governments globally to focus on reaching those at risk, such as people over the age of 60 and those with underlying conditions, for vaccination.

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