World News in Brief: December 10

Thursday, 2020-12-10 16:56:46
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People wearing face masks are seen at a bazaar in Ramsar, Iran, on Dec. 9, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Indonesia has secured 155.5 million doses of vaccines and is seeking another 116 million through deals with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and global vaccine programme COVAX.

* Japan said it will buy 10,500 deep freezers to store vaccines, as the capital Tokyo reported a record number of new cases.

* Johnson & Johnson said it has cut enrolment for its pivotal vaccine trial to 40,000 volunteers from its original plan for 60,000, as higher rates of COVID-19 infections should generate the data it needs with fewer study subjects.

* More than 68.75 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,566,985 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

* Canada approved its first COVID-19 vaccine and said initial shots will be delivered and administered across the country starting next week.

* Mexico on Wednesday signed an agreement to buy 35 million doses of Chinese firm Cansino Biologics' COVID-19 vaccine.

* Republic of Korea scrambled to build hospital beds in shipping containers to ease strains on medical facilities stretched by the latest coronavirus wave.

* Australian scientists said they had developed a rapid genome sequencing method that would cut to within four hours the time taken to trace the source of coronavirus cases.

* Bets on more European Central Bank stimulus kept Europe's main stock markets and the euro steady on Thursday but Britain's pound saw its biggest drop in almost a month after overnight Brexit talks turned sour.

* China's National Health Commission said Thursday that it received reports of 12 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Wednesday, one of which was locally transmitted in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland reached 86,673 by Wednesday, including 285 patients still receiving treatment.

* The United States on Wednesday registered more than 3,000 deaths from COVID-19 within 24 hours, the highest daily death toll since April, showed data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. As of 8:30 p.m. (0030 GMT Thursday), the country had recorded a total of 289,188 COVID-19 deaths, up by 3,071 over the past 24 hours. So far, 15,379,574 cases have been reported nationwide, making the United States the hardest hit by the pandemic across the world, followed by India and Brazil.

* Brazil reported 53,453 more confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily rate since mid-August, and 836 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

* Russia confirmed 27,927 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours on Thursday, pushing the national tally to 2,569,126. Authorities said 562 people had died overnight, taking the official death toll to 45,280.

* Mexico reported on Wednesday 11,974 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the national total to 1,205,229, according to its health ministry. Meanwhile, the country's death toll from the virus increased by 781 to 111,655.

* Britain's economic recovery almost ground to a halt in October as a surge in coronavirus cases hammered the hospitality sector, increasing the chances that the economy will shrink over the final three months of 2020.

* Coronavirus infections and related deaths in Germany are likely to rise further in the coming weeks, a senior health official at the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) said.

* Israel received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday and a distributor predicted the country would have enough for about a quarter of the population by the end of the year.

* Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's cabinet chief said on Thursday there is a chance for an agreement on the European Union's next budget and recovery fund as the bloc's leaders met for a crunch summit.

* Denmark's government will expand tighter lockdown measures currently in place in 38 municipalities to around 30 new municipalities, broadcaster TV2 reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources.

* Ireland's European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness on Thursday said she believed there was "a deal to be done" with Britain in trade talks in the coming days if the emotion is taken out of the issue of common standards. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave themselves until the end of the weekend to seal a new trade pact after failing to overcome persistent rifts over a "lively" dinner on Wednesday.

* Hungary on Thursday registered 5,415 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the national tally to 265,003, according to official figures. Over the last 24 hours, 171 people died from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 6,451, while 77,364 people have recovered. Meanwhile, critical cases totaled 645 and active cases reached 181,190.

* Spain will abolish value-added tax (VAT) on the sale of COVID-19 vaccines and tests until the end of 2022, in accordance with newly-reached European Union agreements, a senior official said Wednesday.

* A high-ranking Egyptian security intelligence delegation arrived in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday and held talks with senior Hamas movement leaders, who rule the enclave, said Hamas security officials in Gaza. The sources said that the delegation came from the West Bank and arrived in the Gaza Strip through Erez Crossing point with Israel for a one-day visit to hold talks with Hamas leaders.

* Abu Dhabi will resume economic, tourist and entertainment activity within two weeks, while Oman said it will exempt nationals of 103 countries from needing an entry visa for a stay of up to 10 days.

* Oil rose above US$49 a barrel as hopes of a faster demand recovery after the release of vaccines offset a huge rise in US crude inventories that showed there was still ample supply available.

* Cameroon's ruling party has won control of nine out of 10 regional councils, official results showed on Thursday, in a vote that President Paul Biya said was intended to devolve power to local authorities but his opponents boycotted.

Reuters, Xinhua