World News in Brief: February 24

Wednesday, 2021-02-24 20:38:23
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On 24 February 2021, UNICEF Representative in Ghana Anne-Claire Dufay is photographed at the arrival of the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the COVAX Facility at Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana's capital.
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The World Health Organization's global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX delivered its first shots on Wednesday, as the race to get doses to the world's poorest people and tame the pandemic accelerates.

* Global airline industry body IATA said it would launch a COVID-19 travel pass at the end of March, bringing into use a digital system for test results and vaccine certificates which will help facilitiate international travel.

* India announced an expansion of its vaccination programme but warned that breaches of coronavirus protocols could worsen an infection surge in many states.

* Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said Japan would start vaccinating the elderly from April 12.

* Malaysia launched its COVID-19 inoculation programme, with a target of vaccinating at least 80% of its 32 million people by February next year.

* Thai authorities are preparing a plan to ease restrictions for travellers vaccinated against the coronavirus, senior officials said on Wednesday, as the country looks to revive a tourism industry battered by travel curbs.

* Germany still expects to receive a planned 16 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine in the second quarter, despite a report that there would be delivery shortfalls.

* Poland was set to announce tougher restrictions, especially in regions hit particularly hard by the variant of COVID-19 first detected in Britain.

* Greece will not be able to lift lockdown restrictions in the wider Athens area on March 1 as previously planned, following a sharp increase in infections.

* Hungary cannot yet ease its partial lockdown as a third wave of infections has boosted new cases and only a small section of the population has received a vaccine so far, the prime minister said.

* Denmark plans to allow shops and some schools to reopen in March in a much awaited move that could however send hospital coronavirus admissions soaring in coming months.

* COVID-19 vaccine makers told the US Congress that supplies should surge in the coming weeks.

* The presidents of Mexico and Argentina pressed the United Nations and the world's richest countries to improve poorer nations' access to vaccines.

* Colombia approved the emergency use of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

* Hospitals should prepare for a possible second wave of coronavirus and take steps to prevent its spread, health authorities in the government-controlled part of Yemen said.

* The United Arab Emirates is opening field hospitals to increase the health sector's capacity.

* The European Commission on Wednesday said it would create an arsenal of data tools to anticipate and adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.

* A unit of Sinopharm and CanSinoBIO has applied for public use of its COVID-19 vaccines in China, which if granted would mean China has four locally developed approved vaccines.

* European shares opened generally higher but world shares remained in the red after a weak Asian session, even after Fed Chair Jerome Powell pushed back against inflation fears.

* Strong exports and solid construction activity helped the German economy to grow by a better-than-expected 0.3% in the final quarter of last year, but stricter lockdown measures at home and abroad are clouding the outlook.

* Spain announced an additional EUR11 billion (US$13.4 billion) package for small and mid-sized companies and the self-employed.

* The Norwegian government will reassess the national measures introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the second half of March, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Wednesday.

* It is not yet possible to loosen restrictions on businesses and movement aimed at curbing COVID-19 infections in Italy because of the threat of a surge in cases, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday.

* Egypt has approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, becoming the 34th country outside of Russia and third in North Africa to do so, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a statement on Wednesday.

* Ukraine started its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Wednesday, with doctors the first to be inoculated.

* Israel is giving small amounts of surplus vaccines to Palestinian-run territories as well as to several countries.

* The World Bank threatened to suspend its multi-million- dollar financing for Lebanon's vaccinations over politicians jumping the line.