China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday promised $3 billion in aid to developing countries to fight COVID-19 at an unprecedented emergency online meeting of APEC heads of state.
Xi said the additional funds, which come after a similar pledge in May, were intended to “support COVID-19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries,” according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Appearing via a video-link, Xi added that China has already supplied developing countries with more than 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was scheduled to host the annual summit of leaders from the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperationgroup in December, but called an additional meeting with less than five days’ notice to address urgent issues caused by the global pandemic.
US President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are attending the meeting, which began on Friday evening Beijing time.
‘Virus still running after us’
The World Health Organization’s emergency committee warned that new and more dangerous COVID-19 variants were expected to spread around the world, making it harder to halt the pandemic.
The announcement was further bad news as several countries battled a new wave of infections fanned by new variants, namely Delta which was first identified in India.
“The pandemic is nowhere near finished,” the committee warned in a statement.
“We are still running after this virus and the virus is still running after us,” said Committee chairman Didier Houssin.
EU: Brace for sharp spike in cases
The EU’s disease agency said Friday it was predicting a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, with nearly five times as many new infections by August 1.
The expected rise in cases was linked to the highly-transmissible Delta variant, along with the relaxing of measures in European countries.
“The current continuing deterioration of the epidemiological situation in many countries is expected to continue given the rapid increase in the Delta variant,” the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said in the report.
Masks up again
Wearing a face mask at indoor public establishments will once again be mandatory in Los Angeles starting this weekend due to a steady increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, health authorities said Thursday.
Los Angeles is the first large US metropolis to reimpose the use of face masks—regardless of vaccination status—in shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and workplaces to help contain the pandemic.
The new masking order goes into effect at midnight Saturday in the county of Los Angeles.
In France, authorities said Friday that face masks will again be required in all public spaces indoors and out in a southern region bordering Spain, after COVID infections soared this week because of the more infectious Delta variant.