World News in Brief: April 14

Wednesday, 2021-04-14 21:48:39
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People look at products at the Prodexpo-2021 in Moscow, Russia, on April 13, 2021. As a major international exhibition of food and drinks in Russia and Eastern Europe, Prodexpo features food from essential food and beverages to exquisite speciality from all over the world. (Photo: Xinhua)
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reduced the length of his trip to India later this month because of the COVID-19 situation in the country, his spokesman said on Wednesday, adding he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

* The Kremlin said on Wednesday that a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden would be contingent on US behaviour after reportedly telling Washington to scrap a plan to impose new sanctions on Russia.

* Inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog visited Iran's uranium enrichment site at Natanz on Wednesday, the agency said, without commenting on the extent of the damage caused by what Iran says was an act of sabotage.

* French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire reaffirmed the French economy should grow by 5% in 2021, and told BFM TV that financial aid measures should remain until the end of the pandemic.

* Vice President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday she is planning to visit Mexico and Guatemala soon and that the United States must figure out how to bring about economic development in the Northern Triangle countries to curb immigration.

* Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday he would step down from his post in the last ten days of April to clear the way for early parliamentary elections, the Interfax news agency reported.

* Haiti's Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe announced his resignation on Wednesday amid worsening gang violence and political turmoil in the poorest country in the Americas.

* India's new infections hit a record level on Wednesday with Mumbai set to be locked down at midnight, but hundreds of thousands of pilgrims still thronged to a religious festival in the north of the country.

* The euro zone economy is still standing on the "two crutches" of monetary and fiscal stimulus and these cannot be taken away until there is a full recovery, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said on Wednesday.

* The suspension of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine could delay efforts to inoculate most people in the European Union by more than two months, scientific information and analytics company Airfinity said.

* Global stock markets pushed to record highs on Wednesday as bond yields eased, after data showed US inflation was not rising too fast as the economy re-opens.

* Thailand reported 1,335 new cases, the biggest daily rise since the start of the pandemic and the third record rise this week.

* Denmark became the first country to stop using AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine altogether, following news of its possible link to very rare blood clot cases, while Finland extended the pause in use of the vaccine for people under 65.

* Spain is confident it can maintain its current vaccination targets despite a US suspension of the Johnson & Johnson shot and delays to its European rollout.

* US federal health agencies have recommended pausing use of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine for at least a few days after six women under age 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the shot.

* Brazil's Senate on Tuesday launched an inquiry into President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic.

* With two vaccines now under scrutiny for possible links to very rare cases of blood clots in the brain, US government scientists are focusing on whether the specific technology behind the shots may be contributing to the risk.

* Irish unemployment will remain above pre-pandemic levels until at least 2025, reflecting some scarring from the crisis that will see national debt peak among the highest levels in the developed world.

* Hungary will allow restaurant terraces to re-open once 3.5 million people, about a third of the population, are inoculated against COVID-19, a target expected to be hit sometime next Wednesday or Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

* The Swiss government announced further easing of its COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday, allowing restaurants to reopen outdoor terraces from next week and sports events to take place with audiences.

* South Africa has agreed to onerous conditions like non-refundable downpayments to secure vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, its health minister said, describing the terms vaccine manufacturers had demanded as "difficult and sometimes unreasonable".

* The first study to directly compare immune reactions between Pfizer's and AstraZeneca's vaccines found strong and broadly similar antibody responses in over 80-year-olds after a first dose of either shot, scientists said.