World News in Brief: March 6

Saturday, 2021-03-06 17:26:36
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A resident receives a shot of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, March 5, 2021. Kenya's health ministry on Friday kicked off COVID-19 vaccination campaign with frontline health workers as the first to receive the vaccine. (Photo: Xinhua)
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COVAX, the international vaccine campaign co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners, had delivered more than 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 20 countries, the WHO chief said on Friday.

* Globally, as of 9:42am CET, 6 March 2021, there have been 115.478.709 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2.568.720 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 6 March 2021, a total of 249.160.837 vaccine doses have been administered.

* The Chinese mainland reported no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Friday, the National Health Commission said Saturday. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland reached 89,962 by Friday, including 173 patients still receiving treatment, including one in severe condition.

* Japan extended a state of emergency in the Tokyo area by two weeks to try to combat COVID-19, prompting a "heartfelt apology" by Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide.

* Brazil on Friday registered more than 1,600 COVID-19 deaths for the fourth day in a row, reporting 1,800 new deaths and 75,495 new cases in the past 24 hours. Brazil has so far reported a total of 10,869,227 cases with 262,770 deaths, according to official data.

* Russia on Saturday reported 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, including 1,820 in Moscow, taking the national case tally to 4,312,181 since the pandemic began. The government's coronavirus taskforce said that 441 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the Russian death toll to 88,726.

* US President Joe Biden said the latest job report shows job gains are too slow and his COVID-19 relief bill is urgently needed to boost the economy.

* The European Union will urge the United States to permit the export of millions of doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to Europe, underlining Brussels' scramble to bridge supply shortfalls, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

* Italy said on Friday it would further tighten coronavirus restrictions in three of its 20 regions, while France reported the number of people in intensive care with the disease reached its highest level so far this year.

* Switzerland unveiled a CHF1 billion (US$1.08 billion) plan on Friday to offer free coronavirus tests for its entire population.

* Over 21 million people have now been given a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, health authorities said on Friday.

* The Czech Republic has asked Germany, Switzerland and Poland to take in dozens of COVID-19 patients as the situation in its own hospitals has reached a critical point.

* One of Barcelona's top music venues will hold a concert for 5,000 people later this month after no COVID-19 cases were reported at a pilot project using same-day testing.

* France will no longer require proof of a negative coronavirus test result from hauliers travelling directly from Ireland, citing very low positivity rates among commercial vehicle drivers.

* A variant of COVID-19 first identified in Britain now accounts for 25% of the reported cases in Poland.

* Canada's drug regulator has approved Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, the fourth such shot to be given the green light, amid frustration over the slow start to the country's inoculation program.

* Europe's medicines regulator said Eli Lilly's antibody drug combination can be used to treat COVID-19 patients who do not require oxygen support and are at high risk of progressing to severe illness.

* Hungary, which is imposing tough new lockdown measures to curb a spike in COVID-19 infections, reported a record daily high of 7,269 cases on Saturday, a jump of 14% from Friday.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 9,557 to 2,492,079, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 300 to 71,804, the tally showed.

* Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday successfully secured a vote of confidence from the National Assembly (NA), or the lower house of the country's parliament, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser said. A total of 178 lawmakers of the 342-seat NA that currently has 340 members, voted in Khan's favor, said Qaiser, which "had surpassed the 172 votes that the prime minister needed" to obtain the confidence.

* Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday, in a bid to push forward peace talks with the Taliban, that his government was ready to discuss holding fresh elections, insisting that any new government should emerge through the democratic process.

* Italy's retail sales continued to decline in January, according to information released Friday by the country's National Statistics Institute, though there were some bright areas in the data including a dramatic increase in online sales.

* Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Friday that her country could "use all vaccines against COVID-19 that are efficient and safe."

* The European Union (EU) is strongly committed to supporting the upcoming talks on the Cyprus issue, said Josep Borrell, the bloc's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on Friday during a visit to Cyprus.

* Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a video conference on Friday over the COVID-19 pandemic and regional issues, Turkey's Directorate of Communications said.

* African countries have so far conducted over 35 million COVID-19 tests, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Friday.

* The Chief of Staff of the Strategic Operational Command of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) Admiral Remigio Ceballos on Friday launched military exercises to bolster Venezuela's defenses. The drills were intended to pay tribute to former President Hugo Chavez on the eighth anniversary of his death on March 5, 2013.

* Rwanda began its COVID-19 vaccine campaign, becoming the first nation in Africa to use pharmaceutical company Pfizer's doses that require ultra-cold storage.

* Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda started inoculating frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable citizens against COVID-19 on Friday.

* Mozambique expects to inoculate 16 million high-risk people against the coronavirus by 2022.