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New WHO group may be last chance to find COVID virus origins

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The World Health Organisation says a new taskforce may be the last chance to find the origins of COVID-19

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on May 14, 2020. – Nervous residents of China’s pandemic epicentre of Wuhan queued up across the city to be tested for the coronavirus on May 14 after a new cluster of cases sparked a mass screening campaign. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

The WHO has nominated 26 experts to join the body, more than a year-and-a-half since the virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The new team will consider if the virus jumped from animals to humans in Wuhan markets, or leaked in a lab accident.

China has strongly denied the lab leak theory.

It follows an earlier investigation from the WHO that concluded the virus had probably come from bats but that more work was needed.

But the WHO’s Director General said the investigation had been hampered by a lack of data and transparency from China.

The WHO has set up the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens known as ‘Sago’ to lead the taskforce

The proposed members of the Sago group include six experts who visited China as part of the previous team.

Aside from coronavirus, Sago will also look into the origins of other high-risk pathogens.

“Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks,” said Dr Tedros said.

In a joint editorial in the journal Science, Dr Tedros and other WHO officials said “a lab accident cannot be ruled out”.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Five former Trump staffers speak with House

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January 6 capital riots investigation continues

As the investigation into the January 6 capitol riots continues, new reports allege that at least five former Trump staffers have come forward to speak voluntarily with the House committee.

This comes as the committee’s lawyers continue to reach out to further Trump aides as to whether they would be interested in speaking at the hearing without the threat of SUPENA.

The committee has been tasked with investigating the actions of former President Donald Trump prior to the riots occurring.

This most recent outreach is not likely to signify that the committee believes the staffers had any involvement in sparking the riots… but rather they may have more context as to what was happening inside the White House that day.

It all comes as Trump continues his legal battle against the investigation… suing both the committee and the National Archives in an attempt to withhold documents.

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Queen Elizabeth not attending COP26 climate event

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Buckingham Palace says the Queen is accepting doctor’s advice to rest

Following a health scare just last week… Queen Elizabeth will not be attending the upcoming COP-26 climate event in Glasgow.

This comes as doctors advise the royal to rest and comes just hours after she carried out her first official engagements since being admitted to hospital.

On Tuesday, Elizabeth met virtually with the ambassador of Korea and Switzerland.

Last week, Buckingham Palace revealed the monarch spent a night in hospital for “preliminary investigations”… but returned home in “good spirits”.

Meanwhile, the Queen was due to attend an evening reception in Glasgow on Monday but will deliver a video message instead.

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Jeff Bezos unveils plans for commercial space station

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Jeff Bezos’ space tourism company, Blue Origin, has announced plans to launch a space station in Earth’s orbit.

The station will be named “Orbital Reef,” and is projected to be built and operational by the end of the decade.

The company says the station will be serve as a “mixed-use business park” in space and will host up to 10 people.

Promotional material released by the company revealed the 32-thousand square foot station will provide customers with an ideal location for “filmmaking in microgravity”, or “conducting cutting-edge research”.

It’s also speculated that the space station will include a “space hotel”.

The company will partner with Sierra Space and Boeing to build the outpost.

The announcement comes amid NASA efforts to find a proposal to replace the International Space Station (ISS), which is now more than 20 years old and in desperate need of repair.

This will include $400m in private contracts to space companies to help the agency replace the ageing outpost.

There is likely to be stiff competition for the funding, and Blue Origin is the latest firm to unveil their space station concept, joining space firms Nanoracks, Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin, who have teamed up to launch a station into low orbit by 2027.

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