World News in Brief: December 29

Tuesday, 2020-12-29 16:31:49
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A woman walks past a shop window decorated with a "2021" light fixture in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dec. 28, 2020. Brazil registered 20,548 new COVID-19 cases in the past day, taking the national count to 7,504,833, the country's health ministry said Monday. The nationwide COVID-19 death toll rose to 191,570 after 431 more deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, said the ministry. (Photo: Xinhua)
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called on the international community to make 2021 "a year of healing" in his video message for the new year.

* The Lao Airlines is suspending all charter flights to and from other countries to reduce the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 triggered by inbound travelers.

* The Philippines will ban travellers from 19 countries and territories until mid-January to keep out a new variant of the coronavirus.

* Thailand on Tuesday recorded 155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, mostly local infections, official data showed. The total number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Thailand stands at 6,440 currently, with 4,184 recoveries. A total of 2,195 patents are being treated in hospitals.

* The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 7,903 within one day to 727,122, with the death toll adding by 251 to 21,703, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday. According to the ministry, 6,805 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 596,783. The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.

* Russia will begin trials of an antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients next year, according to the head of the Moscow institute that developed the country's first vaccine against the disease, Sputnik V.

* Novavax Inc has begun a large late-stage study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, the drug developer said.

* Asian shares jumped on Tuesday, with Japanese stocks hitting a 30-year high, as hopes that a long-awaited US pandemic relief package would be expanded, while a Brexit trade deal supported investor's risk appetite.

* Indian health authorities said they had found six people who had returned from Britain in recent weeks positive for the new more infectious strain of the coronavirus.

* Japan detected a coronavirus variant found in South Africa, the government said.

* More than 65,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 in the past 28 days, roughly equivalent to over 1.6 Americans lost to the virus every minute, making December the worst month for COVID-19 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic. The death toll marks a significant surge from that in the entire month of November which registered 36,964 deaths.

* The distribution of an initial 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech across the European Union will be completed by September, a spokesman for the EU Commission said.

* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said a COVID-19 vaccine would be available in the country within five days of being approved by federal health regulator Anvisa.

* Britain must vaccinate 2 million people a week to avoid a third wave of the coronavirus outbreak, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has concluded.

* Germany's COVID-19 vaccination campaign has been overshadowed by an overdose mishap in the north and problems with the transportation of the vaccine in the south which lead to 1,000 shots being sent back.

* Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said Monday that the future of the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 could be decided in the first quarter next year.

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that the post-Brexit trade deal is a new starting point for Britain and the European Union (EU). The trade deal, which came after nine months of arduous negotiations between Britain and the EU, was announced Thursday by Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

* South Africa tightened COVID-19 restrictions, banning alcohol sales and extending a nationwide curfew, as infections shot through the one million mark owing to a faster-spreading variant of the disease discovered in the country.

* Ukraine's Minister of Health Maxym Stepanov said on Monday that despite the decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases, the ministry does not recommend the abolition or postponement of the strict quarantine from Jan. 8 to Jan. 24.

* Lebanon has secured about 2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine, which will cover 20% of the country's nationals, the health minister said.

Xinhua, Reuters