World News in Brief: December 18

Friday, 2020-12-18 15:06:59
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A little girl in Santa Clause costume takes in the view of the Christmas light decorations in the drizzling rain along the shopping belt of Orchard Road in Singapore on Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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China is planning to vaccinate 50 million people in the high-priority group before the start of the peak Lunar New Year travel season early next year.

* Brazil recorded over 1,000 new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in over three months as its Supreme Court ruled that vaccinations could be required in the South American country.

* India recorded 22,890 new infections, the world's second-highest number behind the United States, taking its overall tally to 20,000 short of the 10-million mark.

* Republic of Korea reported its second-highest ever daily tally of cases, as the government warned businesses it was unacceptable for them to try to dodge shutdown orders by tricking the system.

* The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will "rapidly" work towards granting emergency approval of Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.

* Pfizer Inc said it had applied for approval in Japan for its COVID-19 vaccine, which is already being administered in Britain and the United States.

* Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday it had enrolled about 45,000 participants for the first late-stage trial of its single-dose vaccine candidate and that it expects interim data by late-January.

* French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive on Thursday, prompting a track and trace effort across Europe following meetings he had with EU heads of government.

* Christmas travel plans for thousands of Australians were thrown into chaos when states and territories imposed border restrictions after 28 cases were detected in Sydney.

* The first vaccine doses may arrive in Ukraine in February, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said, adding the government was in talks with several suppliers.

* Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset will ask cabinet colleagues on Friday to close restaurants for a month, two newspapers reported.

* An unrelenting coronavirus surge pushed besieged hospitals further to the brink as the United States pressed on with its immunization rollout on Thursday.

* A new potential roadblock to a US$900 billion coronavirus economic relief bill emerged in the US Congress on Thursday as some Senate Republicans insisted on language ensuring that expiring Federal Reserve lending programs cannot be revived.

* France is unlikely to return to normal post-coronavirus life before autumn next year as it could take longer than initially envisioned to role out vaccines, a senior government scientific adviser said.

* Pregnant women with COVID-19 do not get more sick than the wider population, according to a Singapore study, which also found that babies born to infected mothers have antibodies against the virus.

* Denmark lowered its economic growth forecast for next year as new lockdown measures weigh on its economy.

* A second wave of infections is hitting West and Central Africa, and experts say it could be worse than the first.

Reuters