World News in Brief: September 18

Friday, 2020-09-18 15:16:17
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Israeli medical staff work at the COVID-19 isolation ward of Kaplan Medical Center in central Israeli city of Rehovot, Israel on Sept. 16, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Brazil and several other Latin American countries have informed the World Health Organization (WHO) they need more time to sign up for its global COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan known as COVAX, officials said on Thursday (September 17). Countries have until midnight on Friday (September 18) to formalize legally binding commitments to COVAX, a mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual vaccines. More than 170 countries have joined the global vaccine plan to help buy and distribute immunization shots for COVID-19 fairly around the world, WHO's Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.

* Mainland China reported 32 new COVID-19 cases on September 17, up sharply from 9 cases reported a day earlier, the Chinese national health authority said on Friday. The total number of COVID-19 cases for mainland China now stands at 85,255, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

* India recorded 96,424 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, taking its tally to 5.2 million, data from the federal health ministry showed on Friday. Deaths in India have been relatively low, and it has a fatality rate of 1.62%. On Friday, the health ministry said 1,174 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking total mortalities from the disease to 84,372.

* Brazil on Thursday registered 829 new deaths due to coronavirus, bringing the total to 134,106. Cases rose by 36,303 to 4,455,386.

* Mexico's health ministry on Thursday reported 3,182 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, bringing the total to 684,113 cases, and 201 new deaths, for a cumulative death toll of 72,179.

* The number of COVID-19 infections in Myanmar reached 4,043 on Thursday night, according to a release from the Health and Sports Ministry. The release said 149 new infections were reported while 14 more COVID-19 patients died, bringing the number of deaths to 60 on Thursday night. On the same day, 36 patients were allowed to be discharged from hospitals and the number of recoveries reached 944.

* Thailand's Center for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) Thursday unveiled details of a new stimulus package estimated at THAB51 billion (US$1.63 million) to assist low-income earners impacted by the COVID-19 fallout. The three-month consumption stimulus package will cover 24 million mainly low-income people via two schemes, said the newly established CESA aimed at rebooting the pandemic-hit Thai economy.

* Singapore is an organizer of the 2020 Smart China Expo Online in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, held from Tuesday to Thursday. It is the first time China and Singapore have cooperated to host the event. The expo, which has been held twice in Chongqing since 2018, serves as a platform to promote global exchanges of smart technologies and international cooperation in the smart industry.

* Republic of Korea reported 126 more cases of the COVID-19 as of midnight Thursday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 22,783. The daily caseload stayed below 200 for 16 straight days, but it continued to grow in triple digits since Aug. 14. Five more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 377. The total fatality rate stood at 1.65 percent.

* Australia said on Friday it would increase the number of citizens allowed to return home each week to 6,000 as it manages to get new COVID-19 infections under control. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the cap on the number of people allowed into Australia each week would increase by 2,000 by mid October after a National Cabinet meeting where states agreed to boost quarantine capacity. The country's weekly limit is currently set at 4,000 people.

* The Czech Republic's new COVID-19 infections accelerated as it reported more than 3,000 cases in a single day for the first time on Friday, a day after the daily tally first exceeded 2,000. The country of 10.7 million has seen one of the biggest spikes in new coronavirus infections in Europe, with daily case numbers topping 1,000 for the first time in September.

* Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday said it would be "impossible" to delay parliamentary elections planned for Dec. 6, after the European Union suggested pushing back the vote to meet conditions for the bloc to send an observer mission.

* Leaders of Europe's coronavirus-stricken travel and tourism industries have appealed to the EU's chief executive to press governments to end quarantine requirements and instead embrace coordinated restrictions and testing. The appeal came as data from airports' group ACI Europe, one of the signatories to the Sept. 17 letter, pointed to a "double-dip" air traffic slump, with passenger numbers down 73% in the first two weeks of September, after a 65% decline in August.

* US President Donald Trump will not travel to New York on Tuesday for his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, but will deliver the address from the White House, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said on Thursday. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres suggested in May that leaders send video statements to the annual high-level gathering instead of traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year's event will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the world body.

* Italy's exports and imports increased in July, the country's National Statistics Institute reported Thursday, the first time both indicators improved in the same month since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The institute, best known as ISTAT, reported that compared to the previous month exports increased by 5.7 percent in July while imports grew by 4.8 percent.

* Mexico and the United States will continue to ban non-essential border crossings until Oct. 21 due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mexico's Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Thursday. Mexico's government recommended extending the ban originally imposed on March 21, after assessing the current state of COVID-19 outbreaks, the ministry said.

* Bolivia's conservative interim president, Jeanine Anez, pulled out of next month’s general election on Thursday, a move that should strengthen other candidates running against the front-running socialist party of ex-leader Evo Morales.

* Pakistan will set up three markets along the borders with Afghanistan and Iran by February next year to promote business activities and help the people in the border areas, the Prime Minister Office of Pakistan said on Thursday.

* Uzbekistan will lift all entry and exit restrictions on air, rail and road transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic from Oct. 1, the country's special commission on coronavirus said Friday. The Central Asian nation has updated its list of countries which were earlier marked red, yellow and green according to their epidemic situations. The country has so far registered 49,627 cases, with 413 deaths and 45,970 recoveries.

Xinhua, Reuters