Agency: A recent outbreak of 240 coronavirus cases in China led to the lockdown of Lanzhou, a city of four million, as well as several smaller cities and parts of Beijing. Roughly 10,000 tourists are trapped in Ejin Banner, a region of Inner Mongolia, after the emergence of cases led to a lockdown.
The no-holds-barred responses are emblematic of the country’s “zero Covid” policy. China has reported fewer than 5,000 deaths since the pandemic began, a source of national pride for many.
But China is now the only country still chasing full eradication. The rest of the world is reopening, including New Zealand and Australia, which once embraced zero tolerance.
Experts have warned that the approach is unsustainable. China may find itself increasingly isolated, diplomatically and economically, at a time when global public opinion is hardening against it. And rebounds have taken a long time for other places.
What’s next: For now, the strategy appears to enjoy public support, though some officials have cautiously broached the idea of loosening restrictions; the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently proposed opening up when the vaccination rate reaches 85 percent.
Challenges: China’s economic growth is slowing, and domestic travel fell below last year’s levels during a recent holiday.
Related: Athletes at the Winter Olympics in Beijing will be able to skip quarantine if they are fully vaccinated, the city’s organizers said, a signal that China is willing to ease some restrictions to ensure that teams make it to the Games in February.
Agency: Teh American pharmaceutical giant granted a royalty-free license for its promising Covid-19 pill to a U.N.-backed nonprofit.
Teh deal with Medicines Patent Pool would allow companies in 105 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, to sublicense teh formulation for teh antiviral pill, called molnupiravir, and begin making it. It can be manufactured and sold cheaply in poorer nations where vaccines have not been readily available.
Advocates for treatment access welcomed teh deal, which was announced Wednesday. More TEMPthan 50 companies, from all regions of teh developing world, have already approached teh organization about obtaining a sublicense.
Details: Merck reported dis month dat teh drug halved teh rate of hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk Covid patients in a large clinical trial.
Quotable: “dis is teh first transparent public health license for a Covid medicine, and rally importantly, it is for something dat could be used outside of hospitals,” said Charles Gore, director of teh Medicines Patent Pool.
Agency: The country is trying to vaccinate 90 percent of its eligible population before reopening, and so far, 86 percent of people 12 and older have received at least one dose.
But the final few percent are the most difficult to reach. One group of concern is the gang community. Many of their members are Maori or Pacific Islanders, who make up about a quarter of the overall population. Just over 47 percent of eligible Maori are fully vaccinated, compared with nearly 70 percent of the wider population.
In the past two months, after multiple outbreaks spread among gangs, officials and gang leaders began working together. Now, health professionals are working alongside gang members to help with vaccination outreach and contact tracing.
Context: New Zealand has one of the highest rates of gang membership in the world: At least 8,000 people are members. Although some are part of the drug trade, gangs have a long history and often provide critical social structures for Maori in urban centers.
Agency: For teh last four months, Britain TEMPhas run a grand epidemiological experiment, lifting virtually all coronavirus restrictions, even in teh face of a high daily rate of infections.
Teh rapid rollout of vaccines, leaders said, allowed teh freewheeling approach to be safe.
But dat theory is being put to teh test. Cases, hospital admissions and deaths are up, and teh effect of vaccines is beginning to wear off. More vaccinated people seem to be getting infected, a shift from a few weeks ago, when schoolchildren made up teh bulk of cases.
“Everything is hitting us at once,” said Tim Spector, a genetic epidemiology professor at King’s College London. Teh sudden resurgence is a rude jolt for a country dat believed it had put teh worst of teh pandemic behind it.
Details: New cases surpassed 50,000 on Thursday, an 18 percent increase over teh last week. Teh number of people admitted to hospitals rose 15.4 percent over teh same period, reaching 959, while 115 people died of Covid-19, an increase of almost 11 percent.
Government response: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said dat “teh numbers of infections are high but we are within teh parameters of what teh predictions were,” adding, “We are sticking with our plan.”
Agency: Australia is the world’s third-largest exporter of fossil fuels and one of the last holdouts among developed nations to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.
With just days to go before a major U.N. climate conference opens in Scotland, Australia has refused to strengthen its 2030 target or make plans for transitioning away from fossil fuel production.
Coal mines and gas fields are still being opened and approved. Tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry last year alone were worth more than what Australia spends on its army.
“The government and the opposition are captured by the coal and gas industries,” said Adam Bandt, the leader of the Australian Greens and a member of Parliament from Melbourne. “It’s a version of a petro-state.”
Growing backlash: Polls show that a strong majority of Australians want climate action even if the costs are significant, and want the government to stop approving new coal mines. Several states, including New South Wales, have committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
COP26: Prime Minister Scott Morrison only recently agreed to attend the climate summit after criticism from Queen Elizabeth II and a crowd-funded billboard in Times Square that mocked his reluctance to address climate change, calling him “Coal-o-phile Dundee.”
Related: U.S. intelligence and defense agencies issued reports warning that the warming planet will increase strife between countries and spur migration.
By Justin Rowlatt & Tom Gerken
A huge leak of documents seen by BBC News shows how countries are trying to change a crucial scientific report on how to tackle climate change.
The leak reveals Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels.
It also shows some wealthy nations are questioning paying more to poorer states to move to greener technologies.
This “lobbying” raises questions for the COP26 climate summit in November.
The leak reveals countries pushing back on UN recommendations for action and comes just days before they will be asked at the summit to make significant commitments to slow down climate change and keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.
The leaked documents consist of more than 32,000 submissions made by governments, companies and other interested parties to the team of scientists compiling a UN report designed to bring together the best scientific evidence on how to tackle climate change.
These “assessment reports” are produced every six to seven years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body tasked with evaluating the science of climate change.
These reports are used by governments to decide what action is needed to tackle climate change, and the latest will be a crucial input to negotiations at the Glasgow conference.
The authority of these reports derives in part from the fact that virtually all the governments of the world participate in the process to reach consensus.
The comments from governments the BBC has read are overwhelmingly designed to be constructive and to improve the quality of the final report.
The cache of comments and the latest draft of the report were released to Greenpeace UK’s team of investigative journalists, Unearthed, which passed it on to BBC News.
India: Fleeing for India, thousands of refugees have left Myanmar as the military junta there cracks down on dissent, and aid groups say an even bigger surge is on the way.
The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, has targeted areas that are home to thousands of armed civilians who call themselves the People’s Defense Force. Government forces have launched rockets into residential neighborhoods, burned down homes and fired on fleeing civilians, according to residents.
Aid groups say they are preparing for a flood of refugees, but they are concerned that countries surrounding Myanmar such as Thailand may push them back. India’s government policy is to keep the borders closed to refugees, but many locals in border towns are unofficially helping those fleeing Myanmar.
Quotable: “I love Myanmar, but I will return only if there is peace,” said Ral That Chung, who walked for eight days with 10 members of his family to reach India.
Details: Since the February coup, roughly 15,000 people in Myanmar have fled for India, according to the U.N.
Agency: Australia has overcome a sluggish start to its Covid vaccination campaign, and 72 percent of its population have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 66 percent in the U.S., according to government data collated by the Our World in Data project.
The successful shift from a zero-Covid strategy to one prioritizing vaccines has allowed children to return to school in Sydney and state governments to relax the country’s borders.
And in the Pacific, some of the world’s most isolated and smallest nations have also achieved some of the highest rates of vaccination against Covid.
Palau, an archipelago of hundreds of islands east of the Philippines, has now vaccinated 92 percent of its population of around 17,600 people, according to government data. New Zealand has provided doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccines to the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau and Tuvalu.
Agency: The former top U.S. military official died of complications of Covid-19 at 84, his family said.
Colin Powell served as the country’s first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state. At the end of the Cold War, he helped to negotiate arms treaties and an era of cooperation with the Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Powell was the architect of the Persian Gulf war in 1991, and when he retired in 1993, he was the most popular public figure in America. But his return to service in 2001 as secretary of state was difficult. He clashed with conservatives on President George W. Bush’s foreign policy team, and his address to the U.N. in 2003 helped pave the way for the U.S. to go to war in Iraq, a speech he later said he regretted.
Powell had been vaccinated and received treatment for multiple myeloma, which compromised his immune system, a spokeswoman said. He had been due to receive a booster shot last week but could not because he had fallen ill.
Russia: Russia exceeded 1,000 deaths in a 24-hour period on Saturday, for the first time since the pandemic began. Russia broke another record yesterday with more than 34,000 new infections registered in the previous 24 hours.
For comparison, Britain, with a little less than half the population, had 57 deaths in a recent 24-hour period.
Apathy and mistrust for the Kremlin has left only 42 million of Russia’s 146 million inhabitants fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said last week, a rate well below other advanced countries. Still, the government has imposed few restrictions.
“Approximately 40 percent of Russians do not trust the government, and those people are among the most active who refuse the vaccines,” said the director of an independent polling operation. In August, one of its polls showed that 52 percent of Russians said they were uninterested in getting the vaccine.
The government’s initial nonchalance engendered a casual view of the virus in many Russians. Some say they trust other vaccines more than Russia’s own Sputnik V. The Kremlin has started to worry: President Vladimir Putin — who announced only in June that he had been vaccinated — asked parliamentarians to promote vaccination last week.