World News in Brief: September 17

Thursday, 2020-09-17 12:00:50
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People ride scooters in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sept. 16, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has breathed new life in electric scooters worldwide, but multiplying injuries and traffic accidents in Turkey caused by daredevil users have pushed the government to set up strict regulations. (Photo: Xinhua)
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday (September 16) called for more efforts to address the global fragilities that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed. Talking about recovery, the UN chief said that it must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

* Brazil on Wednesday registered 987 new deaths, the health ministry said, bringing the total death toll to 134,106. Cases rose by 36,820 to a total of 4,419,083.

* India reported another record jump in daily coronavirus infections with 97,894 cases in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday. With 5.12 million cases in all, India is the world's second-worst affected country, and trails only the United States, which has a caseload of around 6.6 million. On Thursday, the federal health ministry said 1,132 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking total fatalities from the disease to 83,198.

* Mexico confirmed an additional 4,444 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country and 300 more deaths on Wednesday, bringing the totals to 680,931 cases and 71,978 deaths. The government has said that the actual number of cases is likely higher.

* Mainland China reported nine new COVID-19 cases as of Sept. 16, down from 12 reported a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Thursday. Total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 85,223, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

* Myanmar reported 73 new cases of COVID-19 with six more deaths on Thursday morning, said a release from the Health and Sports Ministry. With the newly confirmed cases, the number of the infections rose to 3,894 in the country so far. Myanmar confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19 on March 23 and first death on March 31. Meanwhile, a total of 908 patients have recovered from the disease.

* Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 27 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 57,514. Of the new cases, two are imported cases, two are community cases and the rest are linked with the dormitories of foreign workers. There are currently 42 confirmed cases who are still in hospital. Of these, most are stable or improving, and none is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

* Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday told the media that the emergency decree will be extended for another three months in three southern provinces of the country. They are Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani Provinces.

* Australia's Victoria state said the daily rise in coronavirus infections eased further on Thursday, as the state began relaxing most restrictions outside its largest city of Melbourne after a steady drop in cases in recent days. Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, reported 28 new cases and eight deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. It reported 42 cases and eight deaths a day earlier. Average cases in Melbourne, which is on an extended hard lockdown until Sept. 28, was below 50 on Wednesday, the benchmark the state has set to start easing curbs.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 2,194 to 265,857, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by three to 9,371, the tally showed.

* China's central bank on Thursday continued to pump cash into the banking system via reverse repos to maintain liquidity. The People's Bank of China injected CNY110 billion (about US$16.25 billion) into the market through seven-day reverse repos at an interest rate of 2.2 percent, according to a statement on the website of the central bank. The move was intended to maintain reasonable and ample liquidity in the banking system, the central bank said.

* Russia will send Belarus the first US$1 billion tranche of a US$1.5 billion loan by the end of the year and provide the remainder of the loan in 2021, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday.

* US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday at least 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine could be distributed in the United States by the end of 2020, months earlier than a top government health official predicted earlier in the day. Earlier on Wednesday, Robert Redfield, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a COVID-19 vaccine could be broadly rolled out by the middle of next year or a little later.

* In the first seven months of 2020, China became the top trading partner of the European Union (EU), a position previously held by the United States, said Eurostat on Wednesday. EU's imports from China increased by 4.9 percent in the January-July period, compared to the same period last year, whereas its imports from the US dropped by 11.7 percent. The bloc's exports to China recorded a slight drop of 1.8 percent, while those to the US fell by 9.9 percent, according to the EU's statistical office. China and US were followed by the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Russia on EU's main trading partner list in the first seven months.

* President Tayyip Erdogan told German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a video call on Wednesday that the docking of Turkey's Oruc Reis seismic survey vessel for maintenance does not mean its operations in the eastern Mediterranean are done, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. Oruc Reis returned to waters near Turkey's southern province of Antalya on Sunday for what Ankara called routine maintenance, a move Greece said was a positive first step in easing tensions over offshore natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

* Turkey and Russia have moved closer to an agreement on a ceasefire and political process in Libya during their latest meetings in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk late on Wednesday.

* The United States said on Wednesday it plans to impose sanctions on those who violate a U.N. arms embargo on Iran, which Washington says will now stay in place instead of expiring in October as agreed under a 2015 nuclear deal. US Special Representative for Venezuela and Iran Elliott Abrams said Washington could deny access to the US market to anyone who trades in weapons with Iran, which President Donald Trump's administration accuses of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied it is developing nuclear weapons.

* The Indian government has received US$2.5 billion loan from the World Bank to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. The details were provided by India's federal junior finance minister Anurag Singh Thakur in the parliament on Tuesday.

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a parliamentary committee Wednesday he did not believe the European Union (EU) was negotiating a Brexit deal with Britain in good faith. Johnson spent more than an hour being grilled by the House of Commons Liaison Committee, made up of the chairs of the major parliamentary select committees.

* Canada aims to more than triple its nationwide daily capacity of novel coronavirus tests to 200,000 and the federal government is providing CAD4.28 billion (US$3.25 billion) to provinces to reach the goal, the government said on Wednesday.

* Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that the island country can use its unique locational advantage to become one of the world's leading maritime hubs, local media reported in Colombo on Wednesday.

* Bangladesh reported 1,615 new COVID-19 cases and 21 new deaths on Wednesday, making the tally at 342,671 and death toll at 4,823, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said. The official data showed that 13,360 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh. According to the official data, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh is now 1.41 percent and the current recovery rate is 72.36 percent. Bangladesh recorded the highest daily new cases of 4,019 on July 2 and the highest number of deaths of 64 on June 30.

* The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at the record-low level of near zero and signaled to maintain this target range until at least 2023. The recovery has progressed more quickly than generally expected, but overall activity remains well below its level before the pandemic and the path ahead remains highly uncertain, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a virtual news conference Wednesday afternoon, after the Fed's two-day policy meeting.

* Romania on Wednesday reported 1,713 COVID-19 infections, its highest single-day increase since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. The previous daily high, standing at 1,504, was registered on Aug. 27. The country, with a tally of 107,011 confirmed cases so far, remained the most affected in Central and Eastern Europe.

* Libya's internationally recognised Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said on Wednesday he wants to quit by the end of October, which could feed political tensions in Tripoli amid new efforts to find a political solution to the country's conflict. Sarraj is head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, while eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA).

* Hurricane Sally uprooted trees, flooded streets and cut power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses on Wednesday as it brought what the US National Hurricane Center called "historic and catastrophic" flooding to the Alabama-Florida coast. Sally, which made landfall early on Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, was downgraded in the afternoon to a tropical storm as maximum sustained winds dropped to 70 miles per hour (113 kph).

Xinhua, Reuters