每日新闻播报(February 18)

Nurse Zhang Liuping feeds a newborn at the neonatology department of the People's Hospital of Rong'an in Rong'an County of Liuzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Jan 1, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

>Number of newborns falls in 2020
The number of newborns whose names were registered with public security authorities on the Chinese mainland last year dropped by about 15 percent from the previous year to 10.03 million, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Of those newborns, about 5.3 million were boys and 4.7 million were girls, the ministry said in a report.
The total number of births last year has not been released, but the number had been falling in recent years despite the implementation of the universal second-child policy at the beginning of 2016.
In 2019, the total number of births on the Chinese mainland was 14.65 million, compared with 15.23 million in the previous year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics in January last year.

Peter Ben Embarek (center), head of the WHO team investigating the origins of COVID-19, greets Liang Wannian, head of the expert panel on COVID-19 response at China's National Health Commission, at the WHO-China joint study news conference in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Tuesday. [Photo/Agencies]

>Lab leak 'extremely unlikely'
It is "extremely unlikely" that the novel coronavirus spread to humans through a laboratory leak, a team of international experts from the World Health Organization said during a news conference in Wuhan on Tuesday, adding that future studies into the origin of the virus will not be "geographically bound".
Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert on animal disease and food safety, heads a 17-member international team of experts convened by the WHO for origin-tracing of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan together with Chinese experts from Jan 14 to Feb 9.
Their work in China has shown that the most likely path for the introduction of the virus to the human population was through an intermediary species, Embarek said, adding that the possibility of two other routes examined by the team - from an animal host to humans and transmission through cold or frozen food - have not been ruled out.

A boy checks out an online geography class provided by Zuoyebang during a recent high-tech exhibition in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province. [Photo/China Daily]

>China to boost online education
China plans to significantly improve its online education system by 2025, according to a document jointly issued by the Ministry of Education and four other government departments. By 2025, China will have established an interconnected system of online education platforms and a comprehensive resource pool of online courses, covering all subjects and all versions of textbooks, the document noted.
In addition, China will have a full set of policies implemented by 2025 to support the operation and development of online education, the document added.
It also emphasized the building of online education platforms from national-level to school-level to ensure that online education resources are accessible to all students.

A man walks past a closed Bourbon St. bar amid stepped-up COVID-19 protocols on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, Louisiana, US, Feb 16, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

>Coronavirus variant spreads in US
The coronavirus variant that has moved through the UK is now spreading "rapidly" through the US, according to a new study published on Sunday.
The more contagious strain is nearly doubling its prevalence among confirmed cases in the US every nine days.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted it could be the predominant strain by March.
This new strain is 35-45 percent more transmissible than other strains of the virus currently in the US, the report found.
When the CDC first warned of the new variant's presence in the US in mid-January, it was present in less than 0.5 percent of cases.
By the end of the month, this figure had jumped to 3.6 percent, according to the study.
The variant, first discovered in the UK, has so far spread to more than 50 countries.
As with the original virus, the risk is highest for the elderly and for those with significant underlying health conditions.

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