At a video-conferenced summit on Wednesday with leaders of African nations, Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged they would be “among the first” to benefit from a Chinese-developed vaccine.” China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa’s response to Covid-19,” Xi said, according to an English translation of his speech on Xinhua.

“Together, we will build a China-Africa community of health for all. We pledge that once the development and deployment of Covid-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit.”

China currently has five vaccine candidates for Covid-19 in human trials, the most in any country. It recently asked for volunteers from among state-owned firms and who were planning to travel, to test candidates in phase three trials.

The Chinese government has been pushing hard to build relations with African countries, particularly as its relationships with other nations like the US, UK and Australia, have soured.

Global report: Beijing Covid-19 cluster may have begun a month earlier – China health official

Beijing’s cluster of new cases may have begun a month earlier than first thought, partly due to asymptomatic infections, according to the director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amid tight restrictions to stop the spread of the capital’s cluster, which now numbers more than 150 cases, Gao Fu said the outbreak probably did not occur in early June or late May, but probably a month earlier, according to state media.

Gao said the volume of asymptomatic cases detected in the outbreak may be partially responsible, but that further investigation was needed.

“A lot of asymptomatic or mild cases were detected in this outbreak and that is why the environment has such amount of virus,” said Gao at a seminar in Shanghai on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Beijing reported 21 new cases of Covid-19, down slightly from the 31 reported on Wednesday. There were two additional cases in Hebei province that were also linked to the Beijing cluster.

The city on Thursday ordered all hotels be shut down, as well as restaurants in high-risk areas. Officials said Beijing was not under lockdown but urged all residents not to travel or gather unnecessarily, and pledged to ensure continued food supply.

The full story on Australia’s unemployment rate now:

Australia lost a further 227,000 jobs between April and May, resulting in a total loss of 835,000 jobs in seasonally adjusted terms since March and a 0.7% jump in unemployment to 7.1%.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the statistics on Thursday, revealing that 85,700 more people are unemployed and the proportion of people aged 15 years and over in jobs has shrunk from 62.5% to about 58.7% in two months.

The numbers suggest Australia is on track to reach unemployment of 8% as the government debates how to rebalance its policies between the 3 million people receiving wage subsidies, excluded from unemployment figures, and the 1.7 million Australians on jobseeker unemployment benefits.

The Guardian

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