World News in Brief: September 13

Sunday, 2020-09-13 15:23:17
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People walk past a smart robot explaining COVID-19 prevention measures at a shopping mall in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 12, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday (September 12) welcomed the start of negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. Afghans themselves must determine the content and nature of the negotiations. An inclusive peace process, in which women, youth and victims of conflict are meaningfully represented, offers the best hope of a sustainable solution, he said.

* The total trade between Myanmar and foreign countries reached over US$33.5 billion in 11 months of the present fiscal year (FY) 2019-2020, according to figures released by the Commerce Ministry on Sunday (September 13). From Oct. 1, 2019 to Aug. 28, 2020, Myanmar earned over US$15.9 billion from export while its import shared over US$17.6 billion. The country's trade deficit of present FY recorded over US$1.6 billion, up from over US$941.6 million compared to the corresponding period of FY 2018-2019.

* Russia will send troops from its Pskov division of paratroopers to Belarus for joint military drills starting on September 14, the RIA news agency cited Russia's defence ministry as saying on September 13. The drills come amid tensions in Belarus as President Alexander Lukashenko faces a groundswell of public anger over an election last month that his opponents say was rigged.

* Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighter jets early on Sunday attacked barracks and military sites of the armed Houthi movement in Yemen's capital Sanaa, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya reported. The coalition also destroyed four Houthi drones at Al-Delmi air base north of Sanaa, Al-Arabiya said, citing local sources. There was no immediate official confirmation from the coalition, which launched air strikes on two sites in Sanaa a day earlier.

* The United States remains "deeply concerned" about Turkey's actions in the eastern Mediterranean, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday, urging a diplomatic end to a simmering crisis over offshore natural resources. Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have risen over claims and counter claims pitting Turkey against Greece and Cyprus to maritime areas thought to be rich in natural gas.

* The U.N. refugee agency is stepping up efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 among tens of thousands of Syrians in camps in Jordan after the first cases were confirmed last week, the head of the agency in the country said on Saturday. The UNHCR confirmed three cases in the country's largest camp for Syrian refugees, Zaatari, near the border with Syria, and two cases in a smaller camp, Azraq. The infections in the two camps that house a total of around 120,000 refugees were the first confirmed cases since the pandemic was first reported in the kingdom last March.

* Turkey and Britain conducted joint naval drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish defense ministry said Saturday. The drill comes as tensions mount in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece over energy exploration.

* No new locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported Saturday across the Chinese mainland, the National Health Commission said Sunday. No new deaths related to the disease were reported, the commission said. By the end of Saturday, a total of 2,635 imported cases had been reported on the mainland. As of Saturday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland had reached 85,184. Altogether 80,399 people had been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 had died of the disease.

* Brazil registered 814 coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours and 33,523 additional cases, the nation's health ministry said on Saturday evening. The South American country has now reported 131,210 total deaths and 4,315,687 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Brazil ranks third in the world after the United States and India in terms of total coronavirus cases, and it is second only to the United States in terms of deaths.

* India's COVID-19 tally rose to 4,754,356 and the death toll surged to 78,586, as 94,372 new cases and 1,114 deaths were reported from across the country in past 24 hours, revealed the latest data released by the federal health ministry on Sunday. India's new cases detected per day are more than double the daily average of the United States and Brazil, the other two worst affected countries. Still there are 973,175 COVID-19 cases across the country, while 3,702,595 people were successfully cured and discharged from hospitals.

* Russia reported 5,449 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, pushing its national tally to 1,062,811, the fourth largest in the world. Authorities said 94 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 18,578.

* Mexico reported 5,674 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 421 additional fatalities on Saturday, bringing its totals to 663,973 infections and 70,604 deaths, according to updated Health Ministry data. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely to be significantly higher than the confirmed cases. So far, Mexico's death toll from the pandemic is the fourth highest globally, and the 13th highest on a per capita basis, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

* Cambodia on Sunday confirmed one new imported case of COVID-19, raising the total number of infections in the kingdom to 275, a spokeswoman said in a press statement.

* Some residents of Myanmar's biggest city used pieces of wood and corrugated iron to make barricades around their neighbourhoods late on Friday, trying to keep out COVID-19 as the country grapples with a second wave of infections. The Southeast Asian nation has reported a total of 2,625 coronavirus cases and 15 deaths. The number of infections has quadrupled since mid-August, when the virus resurfaced in the western state of Rakhine after weeks without a domestic case.

* A Thai university on Sunday published on its website the positive results in animal trial for a COVID-19 candidate vaccine. Chulalongkorn University said that its joint research with Baiya Phytopharm, a startup Thai pharmaceutical firm, has shown encouraging results in boosting antibody levels in hamsters, rats and monkeys. The Thai government in August approved a funding of THB1 billion (US$32 million) for the development of a vaccine against COVID-19. The funding was handed over to Thailand's National Vaccine Institute.

* Indonesia on Sunday reported 3,636 new coronavirus infections and 73 new deaths, data from Health Ministry's website showed. The latest report brought the total number of infections to 218,382 and deaths to 8,723, the highest number of deaths in Southeast Asia. The country's capital Jakarta will reimpose stricter wide-scale restrictions starting on Monday to control spread of the virus in the mega city.

* The Philippines on Sunday recorded 3,372 new coronavirus cases and 79 more deaths. In a bulletin, the Department of Health said the Southeast Asian country's confirmed cases of infections had risen to 261,216, the highest in the region, while its death toll had climbed to 4,371.

* Republic of Korea on Sunday eased its tough social distancing policy for the next two weeks in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, with new daily novel coronavirus cases hovering stubbornly within triple digits. The government has lifted a ban on onsite dining after 9 p.m. though still requires restaurants and cafes to restrict seating and record patrons' names and contact details. The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 121 new cases of novel coronavirus infection as of midnight on Saturday, bringing total infections to 22,176, with 358 deaths.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 948, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by two, the tally showed.

* Tropical storm Sally strengthened off the west coast of Florida on Saturday and was poised to become a Category 1 hurricane, bringing high winds, heavy seas and flash flooding to the US Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center said. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and called on residents still recovering from the last storm and pandemic restrictions to prepare for the storm.

* New Zealand reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, said the Ministry of Health in a statement, with one health worker testing positive. The total number of active cases in New Zealand reached 97, including 39 imported cases in MIQ facilities and 58 community cases, it is said. The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand was now 1,446, which was the number the country reported to the World Health Organization. Laboratories across New Zealand processed 7,211 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 864,469.

* A total of 6,876 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Colombia over the past 24 hours, bringing the national count to 708,964, the health ministry said on Saturday. Meanwhile, the nationwide death toll rose by 216 to 22,734, it said.

* The Chilean Ministry of Health reported on Saturday that it will tighten health controls in the capital during the national holidays on Sept. 17-19 to avoid possible outbreak of COVID-19. The health ministry reported 2,135 new cases on Saturday and 45 more deaths from the novel coronavirus.

* Oman welcomes Bahrain's decision to normalise relations with Israel and hopes it will contribute to Israeli-Palestinian peace, Oman state media said on Sunday. Bahrain on Friday became the second Gulf country to normalise ties with Israel after the United Arab Emirates said they would do so a month ago, moves forged partly through shared fears of Iran.

* The Czech Republic reported its largest single-day increase in new coronavirus infections for a third straight day on Sunday, recording 1,541 cases, according to Health Ministry data. It was the fifth day in a row with new infections above 1,000 as the country of 10.7 million sees a surge in cases that is among the fastest in the European Union. The government has tightened rules requiring face mask use but aims to avoid harsh lockdowns.

* A group of migrants who had been blocked aboard a tanker in the Mediterranean for more than a month were allowed to land in Sicily on Saturday after Italy agreed to take them in, NGO Mediterranea said. The 25 people still at sea disembarked late on Saturday in the port town of Pozzallo, in Sicily, in southern Italy, due to health reasons, ending a "nightmare", the statement said.

* Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar has committed to ending a months-long blockade of oil facilities, the US embassy in the country said in a statement on Saturday, but it was unclear if oil fields and ports would reopen. The statement said the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) had conveyed "the personal commitment of General Haftar to allow the full reopening of the energy sector no later than Sept. 12".

* The planned national full closure in Israel following the surge in COVID-19 morbidity in the country will begin on Sept. 18, the Israeli media reported on Saturday. Israel's state-owned Kan TV news, Channel 12 TV news, and Ynet news website reported that the full lockdown will begin on Sept. 18, the date of Jewish New Year's eve, at 6 a.m. local time, and will last at least for two weeks. All schools and kindergartens in Israel will be closed two days in advance, on Sept. 16.

* Egypt registered on Saturday 148 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 100,856, the Health Ministry said in a statement. According to the ministry's statement, 20 more patients died from coronavirus on Saturday, raising the death toll to 5,627. Meanwhile, 788 COVID-19 patients left hospitals in the past 24 hours after being fully cured, bringing the total recoveries to 83,261.

Reuters, Xinhua