The World Health Organization unveiled a team

The World Health Organization unveiled a team of scientists it wants to revive the stalled inquiry into Covid-19’s origins, with one senior official saying it may be the last chance. The group of 26 experts will be charged with producing a new global framework for studies into the origins of emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential – and their remit includes Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director, said it may be the “last chance to understand the origins of this virus” in a collegiate manner. The WHO announced earlier this year it would set up a Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (Sago). Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said Sago would urgently assess what was now known, what still remained unknown, and what rapidly needed to be done.

 

The EU has released its plan for a reduction of post-Brexit checks on goods and medicines arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland has a special Brexit deal which keeps it in the EU's single market for goods and allows free-flowing trade with the EU. But it means goods arriving from Britain face checks and controls. The UK government said it is studying the detail of the EU's proposals.

The new plan, which seeks to calm a long-running dispute over a key part of the Brexit agreement, would remove about 80% of spot checks, the EU said. It also said customs paperwork would be cut by 50%. The UK has often complained the current arrangement imposes too many barriers. At the start of the year, the new post-Brexit arrangement - known as the Northern Ireland Protocol - was introduced to help prevent checks, or other markings of a ‘hard border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

 

A man armed with a bow fired arrows at shoppers in a small Norwegian town, killing five people before he was arrested, authorities said. The police chief in the community of Kongsberg, near the capital of Oslo, said there was “a confrontation” between officers and the assailant, but he did not elaborate. Two other people were wounded and hospitalised in intensive care, including an officer who was off duty and inside the shop where the attack took place, police said.

“The man who carried out the act has been arrested by the police, and there is no active search for more people. Based on the information we have, there is one person behind this,” Police Chief Oeyving Aas said. Acting Prime Minister Erna Solberg said it was too early to speculate on a motive. The prime minister-designate, Jonas Gahr Stoere, who was expected to take office Thursday, called the assault “a cruel and brutal act”.

 

Fighting has resumed in northern Ethiopia's Afar region after a month-long lull, humanitarian and rebel sources told an international news agency, as the government appeared to be pressing a new offensive. There were reports of an armed clash Tuesday (Oct. 12) in the town of Awra, in Afar's Fenti zone, including use of heavy weapons by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed multiple civilians, the humanitarian sources said. The reports could not be independently verified and officials in Afar could not be reached for comment.

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda denied claims the rebels had used heavy weapons against civilians but confirmed there had been fresh hostilities in Afar. "We do not target civilians and the alleged artillery attack is yet another [fictitious] accusation to tarnish our forces' reputation," he said. For nearly a week humanitarian and rebel sources have been reporting signs of a government offensive that could potentially mark a new phase of the 11-month-old war in northern Ethiopia.

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