While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 23

More people have died in the United States due to Covid-19 than any other country in the world. PHOTO: AFP

US mourns 500,000 lives lost to Covid-19

Over half a million people have died of coronavirus in the United States, as the country races to vaccinate its most vulnerable residents before new variants of the deadly disease become widespread.

More people have died in the United States due to Covid-19 than any other country in the world.

With 4 per cent of the world's population, the United States has 20 per cent of all Covid deaths and one of the highest rates of deaths per 100,000 residents, exceeded by only a few countries such as Belgium, the United Kingdom and Italy.

Unlike many countries around the world that had national lockdowns and mask mandates, former US President Donald Trump left public health decisions to state and local governments, resulting in a patchwork of rules that often contradicted the advice of doctors and health officials.


British PM Johnson sets out plan for full economic reopening in June

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday pledged to reopen England's stores and outdoor hospitality from mid-April, as he set out his aim to fully restart the economy from June 21.

In a statement to Parliament, Johnson set out four steps to carefully reopen the country after its lockdown, warning there would need to be at least five weeks between each to judge the impact on infections and deaths.

Government guidance asking people to work from home where possible will remain in place for another four months, and the request will be examined as part of a review of social distancing measures.


WHO slams rich states for hogging Covid-19 vaccines

The World Health Organization on Monday blasted wealthy countries for not only hogging Covid vaccines but in doing so, hindering the pathway for poorer nations to get them too.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said some rich countries' direct deals with manufacturers had meant that previously-agreed vaccine allocations for poorer countries, via the Covax programme, were being reduced.

The UN health agency chief said money was available to procure doses for some of the poorest countries, following fresh contributions from the United States, the European Union and Germany - but it was worthless if there was nothing to buy.


US says Chinese diplomat Wang Yi's comments fit pattern of Beijing seeking to avert blame

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday that recent remarks by senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi reflect a continued pattern of Beijing seeking to avert blame for its actions.

Mr Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue after ties sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

But he urged Washington to respect China's core interests, stop "smearing" the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing's internal affairs, and stop "conniving" with separatist forces for Taiwan's independence.


Social media users more likely to believe misinformation: Study

Americans who rely on social media as their main source of news are more likely to believe false or unproven stories about important topics such as politics and Covid-19, a survey showed Monday.

The Pew Research Center report found that people who used social platforms for news were less informed about major public affairs topics and more susceptible to believing rumours and hoaxes.

The report comes with social media platforms becoming a growing source of news amid struggles by traditional media in the digital age.


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