China has been accused of doubling-down on the repression of its ethnic minority Uyghur population amid the coronavirus pandemic, the allegations include coercing Uyghurs to take Chinese traditional medicine.
Meanwhile, Auckland’s coronavirus lockdown has lifted as Russia announced it would forcibly vaccinate ‘high risk’ groups.
This story will be regularly updated throughout Tuesday.
Tuesday’s key moments:
Xinjiang experiences draconian COVID-19 response
The government in China’s Xinjiang region is imposing draconian measures to combat coronavirus, including physically locking people in homes and arresting those who do not comply with strict quarantines of more than 40 days.
The semi-autonomous province in the country’s far-north west is home to the persecuted Uyghur ethnic minority — a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority — who have been subjected to what appears to be the world’s largest imprisonment based on religion since the Holocaust.
In recent years, scores of Uyghur men have been forcibly detained and placed into internment camps, while Uyghurs’ physical movement and online activity are heavily monitored by Government authorities.
In June, an Associated Press (AP) investigation determined that Uyghur women were coerced into having abortions and were forcibly sterilised.
Some residents are forced to swallow traditional Chinese medicine, according to government notices, social media posts and interviews with three people in quarantine, and at least one herbal remedy contains ingredients banned in other countries.
A Uyghur woman told the AP that she and dozens of cellmates in a detention centre had to strip naked once a week and sit as they and their cells were hosed down with disinfectant.
Russia to vaccinate ‘high risk’ groups
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Monday that mass vaccination of high risk groups in the country against COVID-19 would begin in November-December this year, Russian news agencies reported.
Russia this month became the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, prompting international experts to question its safety and efficacy.
Auckland’s lockdown lifted
New Zealand has lifted a lockdown imposed on the city of Auckland and also made it mandatory to wear masks on public transportation.
The nation’s largest city had been in a lockdown for more than two weeks after an outbreak of coronavirus was discovered earlier this month.
The new outbreak followed more than three months without any community transmission.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins said Monday that it was safe to reopen Auckland because all the recent infections have been linked to the same cluster through contact tracing.
He noted: “We’re already seeing signs of the city getting back to normal.”
New Zealand reported nine new virus infections Monday, including four among recently returned travellers who are in quarantine.
India’s coronavirus cases rise again
India has registered 78,512 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, maintaining an upward surge.
The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 948 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 64,469.
The surge has raised the country’s total reported virus cases since the pandemic began to more than 3.6 million.
A country of 1.4 billion people, India now has the fastest-growing reported coronavirus caseload of any country in the world, seeing more than 75,000 new cases for five straight days.
The virus has hit India’s major cities and is now fast spreading in smaller towns and rural areas.
GlaxoSmithKline begins testing experimental antibody
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and partner Vir Biotechnology have started testing their experimental antibody on early-stage COVID-19 patients, entering the race to find a winner in a promising class of antiviral drugs to combat the pandemic.
The British drugmaker said on Monday that the long-acting single injection will be tested on recently diagnosed high-risk cases for its ability to prevent hospitalisation, typically a life threatening disease stage.
GSK, which in April moved to invest $US250 million in Vir and agreed to collaborate on the antibody, is behind some peers in developing the drugs.
The antibody is designed to not only block the virus from invading cells but also to recruit immune cells to kill already infected cells, which would otherwise replicate the virus.
It also has been altered to stay effective for several months on a single shot and to cling to a part of the virus’s outer spike protein that has shown no tendency to mutate.
GSK said initial results could be available by the end of the year, complete results during the first quarter of 2021, and early access to patients could be on the cards before June.