World News in Brief: September 24

Wednesday, 2020-09-23 16:50:14
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A medical worker wearing protective suit collects swab samples from a woman before an exam for state civil employee in Surabaya, Indonesia, Sept. 22, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The United Nations (UN) has pledged to further cement its three pillars, namely peace and security, development and human rights, and to strengthen multilateralism as well as international cooperation in the interest of both nations and peoples, the international body said in a latest declaration to mark its 75th anniversary.

* The trade and investment ministers of the Group of 20 (G20) countries vowed on Tuesday (September 22) to support the necessary reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO). During a virtual meeting held under the presidency of Saudi Arabia, the G20 trade and investment ministers highlighted the importance to carry out the reform based on Riyadh Initiative on the future of the WTO, according to a communique by the G20 Saudi Presidency.

* A Chinese military spokesperson said the Chinese and Indian military officials held the sixth round of commander-level talks on September 21. Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, said the talks were held at the border personnel meeting point in Moldo. The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on stabilizing the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in China-India border, according to a press release jointly issued by the two sides.

* The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India rose to 5,646,010 Wednesday (September 24) morning, India's health ministry said. During the past 24 hours, 83,347 new cases were reported from across the country. Besides, 1,085 deaths were also recorded. According to ministry officials, 4,587,613 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement. Globally India is the second worst-hit country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Lao Ministry of Health reported 61 more confirmed cases of dengue fever and one new death from the disease. A total of 6,531 people has been diagnosed with dengue fever and 12 deaths were recorded, according to a report from Lao Ministry of Health on Wednesday. The highest number of dengue patients were reported in Lao capital Vientiane at 1,529, while 741 cases were reported in Bolikhamxay province, and 654 cases were reported in Bokeo province.

* Japan is considering allowing more foreigners into the country for longer stays starting as early as next month, while keeping the COVID-19 entry curbs in place for tourists, the Asahi newspaper reported.

* Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Tuesday said his country will finalize this week a deal to join the World Health Organization's global COVAX plan, which aims to deliver at least 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of next year. A dozen Central and Latin American countries had informed the WHO that they would request more time to sign up for the COVAX multilateral mechanism after the midnight on Friday deadline to formalize legally binding documents.

* Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne announced on Wednesday that the Australian government had joined the COVAX facility, a pooled procurement mechanism for vaccines against COVID-19. Australia has committed AUD123.2 million (US$87.7 million) to enter the vaccine initiative.

* The Drugs Controller General Of India (DCGI) has issued a new set of guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine candidates, focussing on safety, immunogenicity and efficacy parameters. The DCGI has said that a COVID-19 vaccine candidate should have at least 50 percent of efficacy in the Phase-III clinical trial for it to be widely deployed and adequate data informing the potential risk of vaccine-associated Enhanced Respiratory Disease (ERD) needs to be generated.

* Myanmar reported 216 new infection cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, said a daily release from the Health and Sports Ministry. With the newly confirmed cases, the number of laboratory confirmed cases rose to 6,959. The death toll of COVID-19 also increased to 116 after a 43-year-old patient died, the release said. Myanmar government recently imposed the stay-at-home order in Yangon region as the region has been seeing rocketing number of infection cases during the second wave of the outbreak starting Aug. 16.

* The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 294,591 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,833 new daily cases on Wednesday. The DOH said that the number of recoveries also rose to 231,373 after 765 more patients have recovered. The DOH added that 44 more patients have died, bringing the death toll to 5,091.

* Brunei reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with the national tally of cases standing at 145. It marked the 20th consecutive day without new cases since Sept. 3. According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, there is no active case being treated at the National Isolation Center and the total number of recovered cases is 142. There have been three deaths from COVID-19 in Brunei.

* Britain re-imposed some lockdown measures as a second wave of coronavirus infections swept across Europe, while the death toll in the United States crossed 200,000, with a report saying the US drug regulator would tighten COVID-19 vaccine authorization standards.

* New Zealand's estimated resident population reached 5,084,300 at June 30, 2020, the country's statistics department Stats NZ said on Wednesday. These are the first population estimates to fully incorporate the 2018 Census and 2018 Post-enumeration survey (PES) results. More than one million New Zealanders aged above 60 years old, which now accounts for 21 percent of the country's population, according to Stats NZ.

* World shares stabilised and the US$ rose on Wednesday with overnight gains of stay-at-home Wall Street tech champions helped balance concerns that new restrictions to counter resurging infections will hurt economic recovery.

* Australia's coronavirus hot spot of Victoria is considering easing curbs sooner than previously flagged, the state's premier said, as the two-week average of new infections in Melbourne dropped below 30.

* Mexico's confirmed cases rose to 705,263 on Tuesday, according to updated data from the health ministry, along with a reported death toll of 74,348.

* New Zealand reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and for the first time, six historical cases. The six historical cases are made up of one confirmed case dating back to February and five probable historical cases connected to the case also dating back to February, according to the Ministry of Health. New Zealand relaxed COVID-19 restrictions and entered Alert Level 1 at midnight Monday, except for Auckland, the largest city. Auckland will ease restrictions on gatherings and enter level 2 at midnight Wednesday.

* The US House of Representative on Tuesday night passed legislation to keep the federal government open until Dec. 11. Current federal government funding is slated to run out on Sept. 30, leaving lawmakers just eight days to decide a funding plan to avoid a government shutdown. House lawmakers passed the bill with a bipartisan vote of 359-57, hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reached an agreement with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republicans on the so-called continuing resolution (CR) legislation.

* The French government is expected to unveil tighter coronavirus restrictions for Paris on Wednesday following a cabinet meeting, BFM TV and Le Parisien newspaper said.

* Travel restrictions around Europe aimed at curbing contagion ravaged Spain's tourism industry during the crucial month of August, depriving it of millions of tourists.

* COVID-19 infections have surged in Canada and if people do not take stringent precautions, they could balloon to exceed levels seen during the first wave of the pandemic, health officials warned on Monday. According to a worst-case scenario outlined by the Public Health Agency, cases could rise more than 1,000 per day to 155,795 by Oct. 2, with the death toll hitting 9,300. On Monday, Canada had reported 145,415 total cases and 9,228 deaths.

* Saudi Arabia will allow pilgrims residing inside the country to undertake the umrah pilgrimage beginning on Oct. 4, after a seven-month pause due, state news agency SPA reported.