World News in Brief: March 5

Friday, 2021-03-05 22:10:57
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People wearing face masks shop at a supermarket in Hawalli Governorate, Kuwait, March 4, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The National Assembly of Cambodia on Friday approved a draft Law on Measures to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and other Highly Contagious Diseases, which clearly stated financial penalties and prison sentences for violators.

* Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on Friday extended the state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic covering the Tokyo metropolitan area by two weeks to March 21, as infection numbers have not fallen enough for the emergency period to be lifted as scheduled on Sunday.

* The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Friday 3,045 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest daily tally in more than four months, bringing the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the Southeast Asian country to 587,704. The DOH reported 3,139 daily cases on Oct. 16 last year.

* Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its most advanced experimental COVID-19 vaccine, edging closer to a potential home-grown inoculation.

* Brazil on Thursday registered more than 1,600 COVID-19 deaths for the third day in a row, following a record daily count of 1,910 deaths on Wednesday. In the previous 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said, 75,102 new cases were reported, the second highest since the start of the pandemic, after the 87,743 new cases detected on Jan. 7.

* Democrats in the US Senate said on Thursday they had modified President Joe Biden's US$1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to steer more aid to smaller US states as lawmakers prepared to begin a lengthy debate on the bill.

* The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached 3,937,028 as of Friday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said. The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the 55-member African Union (AU), said the death toll related to the pandemic stood at 105,001, while 3,512,473 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.

* France will extend COVID-19 weekend lockdowns to the region around the Channel coast town of Calais, following similar lockdowns around Nice and Dunkirk.

* The European Union is planning to extend its export authorisation scheme for COVID-19 vaccines to the end of June, two EU sources told Reuters on Thursday, as a shipment of AstraZeneca shots from the EU to Australia was blocked.

* Italian municipal and regional elections originally planned for late spring will be delayed due to the pandemic, the government said on Thursday.

* German biotech firm CureVac has enlisted pharmaceutical giant Novartis to help produce its experimental vaccine, while it expects initial results from a late-stage trial of its vaccine early in the second quarter.

* Britain's medical regulator said it would fast-track vaccines for coronavirus variants, adding that the makers of already-authorised shots would not need new lengthy clinical trials to prove their adapted vaccines will work.

* US employers added 379,000 jobs in February, with the unemployment rate little changed at 6.2 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.

* The Greek economy contracted by 8.2 percent on an annual basis in 2020, according to the first estimate the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) released on Friday. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to EUR168.5 billion (US$202.7 billion), compared to EUR183.6 billion in 2019, ELSTAT said.

* An Austrian company has managed to increase its production and will contribute 5 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses to the European Union (EU), announced Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Friday.

* Portugal announced on Thursday that it will invest EUR156 million (US$188 million) until 2030 in a "national strategy" for preventive civil protection against fires in forests, woods, and biodiverse pastures.

* The Swedish government decided on Thursday that, as of next week, municipalities across the country will have the mandate to restrict access to public spaces such as parks and beaches.

* The United States and Britain are undertaking a four-month tariff suspension in an attempt to reach a negotiated solution to the longstanding trade conflict over aircraft subsidies.

* At least 90 people were killed in direct clashes and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, an independent war monitoring group said Friday.

* The quest to eradicate extreme hunger and malnutrition globally is in peril as 931 million tons, or 17 percent, of food available to consumers go to waste, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) has said in a new report. The Food Waste Index Report, compiled by the UNEP and British charity WRAP, was released in Nairobi on Thursday.

* Syria has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections since mid-February but lockdown options remain limited due to the country's dire economic situation, a member of the country's coronavirus advisory committee said on Thursday.

* Algeria has reported six new cases of the coronavirus variant first identified in Britain, bringing the total number to eight.

* Kuwait will impose a 5 p.m to 5 a.m. curfew and close parks from Sunday until April 8 in a bid to contain the coronavirus, the government's spokesman said on state TV.

* South African police have seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines and arrested four suspects in connection with the haul, the Interpol global police co-ordination agency said.

* An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 jolted Kermadec Islands region at 20:25:02 GMT on Thursday, the US Geological Survey said. The epicenter, with a depth of 10.0 km, was initially determined to be at 28.6117 degrees south latitude and 176.1198 degrees west longitude.