World News in Brief: March 3

Wednesday, 2021-03-03 19:24:52
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Health workers sterilize a new field hospital for COVID-19 patients near Prince Hamzah Hospital in Amman, capital of Jordan, on March 2, 2021. Jordan on Tuesday reported 29 COVID-19 deaths and 5,124 new cases, raising the death toll to 4,756 and the tally to 402,282, said a joint statement by the Ministry of Health. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said the government is considering a two-week extension of a state of emergency in the Tokyo area.

* Indian government ministers and officials were following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's lead by opting for an Indian-made vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca one.

* Thailand may celebrate its traditional new year Songkran as usual around mid-April, Culture Minister Itthiphol Khunpluem said Wednesday.

* China's annual coal output will stand at no higher than 4.1 billion tonnes by the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), after it climbed 1.4 percent year on year to 3.9 billion tonnes in 2020, said a report issued by the China National Coal Association on Wednesday.

* President Joe Biden said on Tuesday the United States would have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every American adult by the end of May.

* The European Union aims to increase the region's COVID-19 vaccine production capacity to 2-3 billion doses per year by the end of 2021, Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton was quoted as saying.

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel was expected on Wednesday to agree a gradual relaxation of curbs with regional leaders, but the rules can be tightened again if infections jump.

* Australia will seek the support of the defence forces in its immunisation drive, as it looks to ramp up a vaccination rollout programme that is running behind schedule.

* More than 3.5 million people have been vaccinated in Chile against COVID-19 almost a month after the start of a mass inoculation campaign, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday. It said in a communique that a total of 3,512,326 people have been vaccinated in the country, with 2,259,013 over the age of 60.

* OPEC and other oil producers, a group known as OPEC+, are considering rolling over production cuts into April instead of raising output as oil demand recovery remains fragile due to the coronavirus, three OPEC+ sources told Reuters. OPEC+ ministers hold a full meeting on Thursday.

* Indonesia, with the world's third biggest rainforest area, reduced the rate of deforestation by 75% last year by controlling forest fires more effectively and limiting clearing of woodland, the Environment Ministry said.

* Negotiators from the Republic of Korea and the United States will hold talks in Washington later this week to discuss how to share the upkeep cost for the US Forces Korea (USFK), Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry urged the US administration "not to play with fire" after Washington on Tuesday announced sanctions against Russian individuals and entities over the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

* The US Senate is expected to take up Biden's US$1.9 trillion relief package on Wednesday, with fellow Democrats seeking to advance key priorities and jettison aspects that have drawn unflattering scrutiny.

* Portuguese hotels lost 73% of total revenues last year compared to 2019, the Portuguese Hotel Association (AHP) said on Wednesday, as the COVID-19 pandemic drastically curbed travel from abroad, weighing on the tourism-dependent economy.

* An earthquake of magnitude 6.2 struck central Greece on Wednesday, sending people rushing from their houses but drawing no immediate reports of casualties or significant damage.

* The World Bank is preparing emergency financing to help about 30 African countries access vaccines, the global lender told Reuters.

* Turkey and Egypt could negotiate a maritime demarcation agreement in the eastern Mediterranean if their ties, which have been strained, allow for such a move, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

* Katyusha rockets were fired on Wednesday on a military airbase housing US-led coalition forces in Iraq's western province of Anbar, security sources said. A brief statement by the Joint Operations Command said that 10 rockets were fired in the morning on Ayn al-Asad airbase without causing casualties, while the Iraqi forces seized the rocket launcher later.

* Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday urged the United States to lift sanctions to save the nuclear deal, which is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), official IRNA news agency reported.

* A record number of Ukrainians were taken to hospital with coronavirus over the past 24 hours while the number of deaths remains consistently high.

* Kenya and Senegal received their first batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.

* Merck & Co agreed to make rival Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.