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China urges U.S. to give convincing account of bio******
The United States should give a convincing account of its biological military activities in Ukraine and around the world as soon as possible, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.
Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily press briefing that the international community has major concerns about the purpose of the US research in the biological laboratories in Ukraine and about whether the country conducted dangerous research prohibited in the United States in its overseas facilities.
He noted that the US side cannot remain silent or simply prevaricate by alleging that relevant reports are "disinformation."
The best way for the US side to prove its innocence is to open its doors and allow examination by the international community, Wang said, urging the United States to be forthright about its biological military activities in Ukraine and the rest of the world, and stop blocking the building of the Biological Weapons Convention verification protocol.
South Africa detects new COVID******
A baby cries as her mother receives her Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 in Diepsloot Township near Johannesburg on October 21.。
Scientists in South Africa said on Thursday they had detected a new COVID-19 variant with a large number of mutations, blaming it for a surge in infection numbers.。
The number of daily infections in Africa's hardest-hit country has increased tenfold since the start of the month.。
In response, Britain banned all travel from the country and five other southern African nations as concerns grow about the new variant, which scientists say could be more infectious than Delta and more resistant to current vaccines.。
"Unfortunately we have detected a new variant, which is a reason for concern in South Africa," virologist Tulio de Oliveira told a hastily called news conference.。
The variant, which goes by the scientific label B.1.1.529, "has a very high number of mutations," he said, adding that the World Health Organization may give it a Greek variant name – like the dominant Delta strain – on Friday.。
"It's unfortunately causing a resurgence of infections," he said.。
The variant has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong among travelers from South Africa, de Oliveira added.。
The WHO said it is "closely monitoring" the reported variant and is expected to meet on Friday to determine if it should be designated a variant of "interest" or of "concern."
"Early analysis shows that this variant has a large number of mutations that require and will undergo further study," the WHO added.。
'A major threat'
South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was of "serious concern" and behind an "exponential" increase in reported cases, making it "a major threat."
The country's daily number of infections hit 1,200 on Wednesday, up from 106 earlier in the month.。
Before the detection of the new variant, authorities had predicted a fourth wave to hit South Africa starting around the middle of December, buoyed by travel ahead of the festive season.。
The government-run National Institute for Communicable Diseases said 22 positive cases of the new variant have been recorded in the country.。
The NICD said the number of detected cases and the percentage testing positive are "increasing quickly" in three of the country's provinces including Gauteng, home to the economic hub Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.。
A cluster outbreak was recently identified, concentrated at a higher education institute in Pretoria, the NICD added.。
Last year, the Beta variant of the virus first emerged in South Africa, although until now its infection numbers have been driven by Delta, which was originally detected in India.。
South Africa has the highest pandemic numbers in Africa with around 2.95 million cases, of which 89,657 have been fatal.。
Scientists said the new variant has at least 10 mutations, compared with two for Delta and three for Beta.。
"The concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves," Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, said at a virtual press briefing.。
"It will take a few weeks for us to understand what impact this variant has on any potential vaccines," she added.。
Neutralizing the variant is "complicated by the number of mutations this variant" contains, said one of the South African scientists Penny Moore.。
"This variant contains many mutations that we are not familiar with," she added.。
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said it will soon meet South African experts to discuss the variant.。
"There are so many variants out there but some of them are of no consequence on the trajectory of the epidemic," Africa CDC head John Nkengasong told a news conference on Thursday.。
China's daily crude steel output hits 3******
BEIJING, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- China's average daily output of crude steel recorded a three-year low in September, according to the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) Monday.
The average daily output in September fell 21.2 percent year on year to 2.46 million tonnes, CISA vice chairperson Qu Xiuli said at a press conference.
She noted the drop in output is a must, as the country continued to control the production and energy cost of the steel industry.
A cut in output, however, did not affect the profits of China's major steel mills. In the first nine months of this year, profits of the country's major iron and steel companies surged 123 percent year on year.
Qu urged more efforts to build up the industrial and supply chains to enhance the coordinated development of upstream and downstream companies.
As part of the green shift by its energy-consuming steel industry, China has vowed to shrink its crude steel output in 2021 from a year earlier. Enditem