World News in Brief: December 17

Thursday, 2020-12-17 15:57:02
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Health workers check the condition of a patient at a temporary isolation center in Patriot Candrabagha complex stadium, Bekasi, Indonesia. Dec. 16, 2020. The confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia increased by 6,725 in the past 24 hours to 636,154, with the death toll adding by 137 to 19,248, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Thailand on Thursday eased travel restrictions for citizens from 56 countries in a bid to boost the country's pandemic-hit tourism industry, though visitors will be required to undergo a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

* The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Thursday reported 1,470 new confirmed cases COVID-19 infection, bringing the total number in the country to 454,447. The DOH said 633 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 419,902. The death toll climbed to 8,850 after 17 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH added.

* India's COVID-19 tally reached 9,956,557 on Thursday, as 24,010 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry. According to the data, the death toll mounted to 144,451 as 355 COVID-19 patients died since Wednesday morning.

* Russia on Thursday reported 28,214 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, including 6,711 in Moscow, pushing the national tally to 2,762,668. Authorities said 587 people had died overnight, taking the official death toll to 49,151.

* Australia on Thursday scrambled to trace the source of new COVID-19 cases after a cluster was detected in the largest city of Sydney, where authorities urged hundreds of thousands of people to stay home and set up emergency testing centres.

* The head of Ireland's health service on Thursday said he was concerned that the country could see an "explosive concoction" that would lead to a surge in COVID-19 cases after Christmas. Ireland currently has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 infections in Europe and earlier this month reopened its retail and hospitality sectors, with the exception of bars and clubs.

* Fewer people relying on government coronavirus payments and booming iron ore exports have driven an improvement to Australia's federal budget. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday released the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), revealing that the government is now forecasting a budget deficit of AUD197.7 billion (US$149.8 billion) at the end of financial year 2020-21 compared to about AUD214 billion (US$161.9 billion) projected in October.

* Republic of Korea expected real gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, to grow 3.2 percent in 2021, after contracting this year amid an economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The real GDP was forecast to rebound next year based on a scenario that massive vaccination campaign may begin in the second half of 2021, the Ministry of Economy and Finance said Thursday in its economic outlook report.

* Bulgaria extended its soft lockdown until the end of January to contain the spread of coronavirus infections that spiked in the autumn and strained the Balkan country's poorly funded healthcare system, the government said on Thursday.

* Kuwait has signed a six-year, US$106 million contract with Greek gas grid operator DESFA for the group to operate a liquefied natural gas import terminal in the Gulf emirate, the state-run news agency KUNA reported on Thursday.

Reuters, Xinhua