While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, April 20

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk across Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, on April 18, 2021.
Pedestrians wearing face masks walk across Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, on April 18, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

World can bring Covid-19 pandemic under control within months: WHO

The world can bring the global Covid-19 pandemic under control in the coming months provided it distributes the necessary resources fairly, the head of the World Health Organisation told a news briefing on Monday.

Global climate change activist Greta Thunberg, joining the briefing as a virtual guest from Sweden, took a swipe at "vaccine nationalism" and said it was unethical that rich countries were prioritising their younger citizens for vaccination ahead of vulnerable groups in developing countries.

"We have the tools to bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months, if we apply them consistently and equitably," said the head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

However, he also expressed concern over the "alarming rate" at which Covid-19 is spreading in those aged 25-59 worldwide, possibly due to much more contagious variants.


China's Xinjiang actions could be crimes against humanity: HRW

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that China's actions in Xinjiang could meet criteria for crimes against humanity, calling for a UN investigation into "widespread" abuses and for businesses to shun goods made in the region.

The US-based activist group said there was evidence of ongoing egregious abuses targeting Turkic Muslims, which include Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz people.

China has consistently denied all accusations of abuse in Xinjiang.


Kremlin critic Navalny, who's on hunger strike, transferred to Russian prison hospital

Russia's main opposition leader Alexei Navalny was transferred to a prison hospital, the prison service and his lawyer said on Monday, 20 days into a hunger strike that has brought international warnings of consequences should he die in jail.

Allies of Navalny, who have had no access to him since last week, said they were bracing themselves for bad news about his health.

They are planning mass countrywide demonstrations later this week to save his life. 


US reviewing J&J Covid-19 vaccine for links to additional reports of severe side effects

The United States is reviewing reports of a handful of potential cases of severe side effects among people who received Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine in addition to those that led to a pause in its use, a top US public health official said on Monday.

US health regulators called for a pause in administering the J&J vaccine last week due to reports of serious brain blood clots in six women under age 50 who received the shot out of some 7 million vaccinated with it in the US.

"We are encouraged that it hasn't been an overwhelming number of cases but we're looking and seeing what's come in," US CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.


Stalker-plagued Taylor Swift has break-in at New York home

An alleged stalker of pop superstar Taylor Swift was arrested after she suffered a break-in at her New York apartment, police said Monday.

Hanks Johnson, 52, was charged with criminal trespassing after police responded to an emergency call on Saturday, reporting that someone was breaking into Swift's home in the Tribeca neighbourhood of Manhattan.

Johnson was released on his own recognisance following an arraignment in Manhattan criminal court Sunday night.