World News in Brief: September 16

Wednesday, 2020-09-16 15:54:14
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Japan's new Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has said handling the pandemic and reviving the economy were his top priorities.
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Japan's Suga Yoshihide was voted prime minister by parliament on Wednesday (September 16) to become the country's first new leader in nearly eight years, appointing a new cabinet that kept about half of the familiar faces from predecessor Abe Shinzo's lineup. Suga, 71, Abe's longtime right-hand man, has pledged to pursue many of Abe's programmes, including his "Abenomics" economic strategy, and to forge ahead with structural reforms.

* China and the United Arab Emirates have seen some positive results in their Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trials, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing in Beijing on September 14. The United Arab Emirates on September 14 granted emergency approval for use of a coronavirus vaccine, six weeks after human trials in the Gulf Arab state started.

* Russia's sovereign wealth fund has agreed a deal to sell 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik-V, to a major listed pharmaceutical company in India, a source close to the deal said on Wednesday. Clinical trials of the Russian vaccine in India are expected to follow and to be held jointly with this firm, the source said. Both the trials and supply deal depend on domestic regulatory approval.

* US President Donald Trump on Tuesday (September 15) said a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus could be three or four weeks away, despite cautionary notes sounded by some US public health officials about that accelerated timeline. Trump, speaking at a town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia, defended his handling of the coronavirus crisis, and said a vaccine could be ready for distribution before the US presidential election on Nov. 3.

* Britain's testing system for COVID-19 was creaking as a bottleneck prevented people including medics from getting a test, with the government saying it may take weeks to resolve the problem.

* Pfizer said participants were showing mild-to-moderate side effects when given either the company's experimental coronavirus vaccine or a placebo in an ongoing late-stage study.

* New Zealand's response to control the novel coronavirus helped lessen the short-term economic shock of the pandemic, but massive debt and continuing disruptions will delay a full recovery, government data showed.

* US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were open to delaying an October recess to get a deal with Republicans on a new coronavirus aid bill.

* China's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that a ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) proved the United States had been breaking international trade rules. The WTO ruled that additional tariffs imposed by the United States against China in 2018 were inconsistent with global trading rules. Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a press briefing that China hoped the United States would respect the ruling.

* Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it stands by the Palestinian people and supports all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue, according to a cabinet statement. Earlier on Tuesday, Israel and two Gulf Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, signed normalisation agreements at the White House in Washington.

* The European Union's chief executive on Wednesday said the bloc should commit to deeper emissions cuts over the next decade, and pledged to use green bonds to finance its climate goals. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU should set a target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, against 1990 levels, confirming plans laid out in draft Commission documents previously reported by Reuters. The EU's current 2030 emissions target is for a 40% cut.
* French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Lithuania and Latvia this month and see French NATO troops in the region, Macron's department said on Wednesday, amid tensions between the European Union and Russia and Belarus. During his visit, scheduled to take place from Sept. 28-30, Macron will hold talks with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Latvian President Egils Levits and Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins.

* Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Belarus on Wednesday for talks on military cooperation, the Belarusian Defence Ministry said. The talks follow a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in the Black Sea resort of Sochi earlier this week.

* The Trump administration said on Tuesday it will remove 10% US tariffs on raw Canadian aluminum as long as imports of the metal stay below levels that are expected to "normalize" over the next four months. In response, Canada dropped a threat to impose billions of dollars of retaliatory sanctions, marking the end of a spat between the major trading partners.

* Every passing day reduces chances for sealing a new trade deal with Britain, the European Union's chief executive said on Wednesday, warning London that there was "very little time" left to put an agreement in place by the end of the year.

* Mainland China reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Sept 15, up from 8 a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Wednesday. Total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the mainland now stands at 85,214, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

* Mexico reported 4,771 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 629 additional fatalities on Tuesday, bringing its totals to 676,487 infections and 71,678 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.

* Brazil on Tuesday registered 1,113 new coronavirus deaths, the health ministry said, the highest number since Sept 2. Deaths now total 133,119. Cases rose by 36,653 to 4,382,263.

* Russia reported 5,670 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, pushing its national tally to 1,079,519, the fourth largest in the world. Authorities said 132 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 18,917.

* The Philippines' health ministry on Wednesday recorded 3,550 additional novel coronavirus infections and 69 more deaths. In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had risen to 272,934, the most in Southeast Asia, while confirmed deaths have reached 4,732.

* Indonesia reported its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections with 3,963 new cases on Wednesday, data from the country's health ministry showed. Indonesia has now reported 228,993 infections. The data added 135 new COVID-19 related deaths, taking the total to 9,100, the biggest death toll in Southeast Asia.

* Australia's Victoria state said the daily rise in infections in its coronavirus hot spot of Melbourne has eased further, putting it on course to relax an extended hard lockdown in the city by the end of the month.

* Ukraine registered a record 76 deaths related to the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the national security council said on Wednesday, up from a record of 72 deaths registered last week. The council said 162,660 cases were registered in Ukraine as of Sept. 16, with 3,340 deaths and 72,324 people recovered.

* Hurricane Teddy has strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane and could reach Category 4 strength on Thursday, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory. The hurricane was located about 820 miles (1,315 km) east of the Lesser Antilles, packing maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour (155 km/h), the NHC said on Wednesday.

* Ireland delayed the planned reopening of all pubs in Dublin following a surge in cases in the capital, but bars across the rest of the country will be allowed to open next Monday.

* Zimbabwe lifted a ban on inter-city travel and extended working hours as the government gradually re-opens the economy by easing COVID-19 restrictions.

* Militants in Gaza launched rockets into Israel and Israeli aircraft hit targets in the Palestinian enclave in an explosive backdrop to the signing of pacts for formal ties between Israel and two Gulf Arab countries. The Israeli military said it launched about 10 air strikes in Hamas Islamist-run Gaza early on Wednesday and that 15 rockets had been fired from the territory at Israeli communities near the border, where sirens sounded before dawn.

Reuters