World News in Brief: January 5

Tuesday, 2021-01-05 17:08:30
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A medical worker introduces precautions for the COVID-19 vaccination at Jiangxi Provincial People's Hospital in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, Jan. 4, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)
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India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway on Monday began to assume responsibilities as non-permanent members of the Security Council. Their two-year term officially started on Jan. 1.

* More than 85.27 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,848,724 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.

* China's State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19 has ordered the strict inspection of vaccine quality, safety and smooth cold-chain transportation, as well as timely and accurate delivery of vaccines, as the country's first self-developed vaccine got market approval with the vaccination campaign to be carried out nationwide gradually.

* India's COVID-19 tally rose to 10,356,844 on Tuesday as 16,375 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 149,850 as 201 COVID-19 patients died since Monday morning.

* A total of 265,986 people have received COVID-19 vaccine in Germany as of Monday, the Robert Koch Institute said. Among those vaccinated were more than 114,600 residents of nursing homes and around 123,100 medical staff, according to data collected from federal states. The country's COVID-19 vaccination program started on Dec. 27.

* The main indicators tied to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy so far in 2021 remained below peaks recorded in late November and early December, as the country's national holiday lockdown drew to a close. But health experts warned it was still too early to know how effective the restrictions put in place for the holidays would prove to be.

* England imposed a new national lockdown, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said could be lifted as soon as mid-February if the vaccine rollout went as planned and the number of deaths responded to the new measures. Elite sport will be exempt from curbs.

* A COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Chinese firm Stemirna Therapeutics obtained approval to conduct human testing from China's medical products regulator.

* US manufacturing activity picked up at its briskest pace in more than six years in December.

* Daily coronavirus cases in Japan reached a record 4,670 on Tuesday, commercial broadcaster NTV reported. The Japanese government is considering declaring a state of emergency in and around Tokyo as coronavirus cases climb.

* The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Tuesday reported 937 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's total tally to 479,693.

* Australia's most populous state called on residents in three cities to be tested for COVID-19 and isolate, as concerns grew that a Sydney cluster may have spread to regional areas.

* Denmark might impose further restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, the Ekstra Bladet newspaper reported on Tuesday citing sources ahead of a meeting between the country's health minister and party leaders.

* Republic of Korea's semiconductor export was expected to grow in double digits this year amid a continued contactless trend caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade ministry said Tuesday. Outlook for chip export in 2021 was set between US$107.5 billion and US$111 billion, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association.

* A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said Tuesday that Iran has started obtaining 20 percent enriched uranium and it is able to produce enriched uranium at higher purity.

* The sale of electric cars in Norway overtook those powered by petrol, diesel and hybrid engines last year, with German auto-maker Volkswagen replacing Tesla as the top battery-vehicle producer, new data showed on Tuesday. So-called battery electric vehicles (BEV) made up 54.3% of all new cars sold in the Nordic country in 2020, a global record, up from 42.4% in 2019 and from a mere 1% of the overall market a decade ago, the Norwegian Road Federation said.

* Britain will make GBP4.6 billion (US$6.2 billion) worth of grants and financial support available to companies in sectors such as hospitality, retail and leisure to try to help them survive a new COVID-19 national lockdown.

* Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will take part in a summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, an official source said. The summit is expected to see a formal agreement towards ending a dispute that saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt sever diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in mid-2017.

* Saudi Arabia and Qatar will reopen land, air and sea borders starting from Monday evening, Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah said Monday.

* The underlying level of COVID-19 in Ireland is now higher than during the first wave in April and May.

* Mexico has approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

* Panama will receive its first shipment of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech later this month.

* eSwatini aims to vaccinate all its 1.3 million people against COVID-19, senior officials in the southern African kingdom said.

* Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc expects to start a late-stage US study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the second quarter of 2021.

* Lebanon announced a full lockdown for three weeks, including a night curfew, while Israel's health ministry authorized Moderna's vaccine.

Xinhua, Reuters