World News in Brief: October 1

Thursday, 2020-10-01 14:23:04
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More than 33.92 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,011,034 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
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UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday (September 30) it is time for countries to start using money from their national COVID-19 response to help fund a global vaccine plan as the World Bank warned that "broad, rapid and affordable access" to those doses will be at the core of a resilient global economic recovery. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its COVAX facility - led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance - has received US$3 billion, but needs another US$35 billion. It aims to deliver 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021, 245 million treatments and 500 million tests.

* One million people are confirmed to have lost their lives to COVID-19, but "the real number is certainly higher", World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a high-level United Nations event on Wednesday. Tedros, addressing the New York event from Geneva, said that 167 countries have now joined the WHO-led COVAX global vaccines facility, representing 70% of the world's population, adding: "And the list is growing every day".

* Chilean health authorities said on Wednesday they have approved the start of clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines under development by China's Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical unit Janssen. The trials, authorized by Chile's Institute of Public Health (ISP), will be conducted by government health officials and researchers from two Chilean universities, authorities said.

* The government of Brazil's Sao Paulo state signed a US$90 million contract on Wednesday to receive 46 million doses of a potential vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous state, is one of the sites of Phase III clinical trials for the Sinovac vaccine conducted by the state's Butantan Institute, a leading biomedical research center.

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday pledged US$100 million to help developing countries access a COVID-19 vaccine as World Bank President David Malpass said "broad, rapid and affordable" access to vaccines "will be at the core of a resilient global economic recovery that lifts everyone." Merkel also called on "those who are still dithering" to commit to the global vaccine effort.

* Fujifilm Holdings said it had signed a manufacturing contract agreement with US-based VLP Therapeutics for a COVID-19 vaccine formulation.

* The physician heading a Phase III clinical trial in Pakistan for a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine candidate has urged people to volunteer for the trial, overcoming the resistance in the country to immunisation programmes. Pakistan launched the trial last week for Ad5-nCoV, a vaccine candidate co-developed by CanSino Biologics and a Chinese military-backed research unit. Pakistan reported 541 new cases on Tuesday - taking the total to 312,263 with 6,479 deaths.

* Azerbaijan's general prosecutor's office said Armenian shelling killed a civilian in its town of Terter on Thursday morning and badly damaged the train station there. Dozens have been reported killed and hundreds wounded in fighting since Sunday that broke out over the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and has since spread well beyond.

* Mainland China reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Sept. 30, down from 19 a day earlier, the country's health authority reported on Thursday (October 1). The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections for mainland China now stands at 85,414, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday reported 7,168,077 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 38,764 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 774 to 205,372.

* India's tally of COVID-19 infections increased by 86,821 in the last 24 hours to 6.31 million by Thursday morning and deaths by 1,181 to 98,678.

* Cuba said it was lifting the curfew and partial lockdown in Havana, in place since Sept. 1.

* Brazil registered 1,031 additional coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours and 33,413 new cases, the nation's health ministry said on Wednesday. The South American nation has now registered a total of 143,952 coronavirus deaths and 4,810,935 confirmed cases.

* Mexico's confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 743,216 on Wednesday, according to updated data from the health ministry, along with a total reported death toll of 77,646. Authorities reported 5,053 new cases along with 483 deaths on Wednesday, but the true figures are likely significantly higher due to little testing.

* France's new COVID-19 cases increased by more than 10,000 for the first time in three days on Wednesday while the number of people hospitalised with the disease rose by almost a hundred to a 10-week high of 6,590. French health authorities reported 12,845 additional infections after 8,051 new cases on Sunday and 4,070 on Saturday.

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is not trying to scare people with COVID-19 restrictions but simply to move early in an attempt to limit the potential economic damage of a much more serious outbreak, a minister said on Thursday.

* Germany declared regions in 11 European countries to be areas where there was an elevated risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, while existing warnings about parts of Belgium were extended to cover the entire country.

* The Balearic Islands' regional authorities decided to impose new restrictions on the tourism hotspot city of Ibiza.

* US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made progress on COVID-19 relief legislation, and the House of Representatives postponed a vote on a US$2.2-trillion Democratic coronavirus plan to allow more time for a bipartisan deal to come together.

* Peru will restart international flights to some regional countries.

* Japanese business sentiment improved in July-September from an 11-year low hit three months ago, a key central bank survey showed.

* Australia's coronavirus hotspot state Victoria reported its 800th death on Thursday, but low case numbers raised the prospect of a "COVID-normal" 2021 without lockdowns or social restrictions, said the state premier.

* Britain suffered a record collapse in economic output in the second quarter, though the decline was slightly smaller than first estimated.

* Brazil's unemployment rate rose to 13.8%, the highest in at least eight years.

* India is staring at a ballooning fiscal deficit as the coronavirus shrinks jobs and hits tax collection.

* Australia will spend AUD1.5 billion (US$1 billion) to revitalise manufacturing across six sectors, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as the government pushes to get the economy out of the deep slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 2,503 to 291,722, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 12 to 9,500, the tally showed.

* A magnitude 6.7 quake struck off Tonga in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The quake, 40 miles (64.57 km) southeast of Neiafu, Tonga, was very shallow - only 6.2 miles (10 km) below the seabed - which would have amplified the shaking and may cause some local waves, although the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no Pacific tsunami was expected.

* Turkish authorities detained 19 people including two Kurdish deputy mayors in the northeastern province of Kars as part of a terrorism related operation, state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Thursday. The detainees included local party heads from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and municipality council members in the province, Anadolu said.

* Ukraine registered a record 4,069 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the national security council said on Thursday, up from a previous record of 4,027 new cases reported on Wednesday. The daily tally of coronavirus infections spiked in September above 3,000, prompting the government to extend lockdown measures until the end of October. The council said a total of 213,028 cases were registered in Ukraine as of Oct. 1, with 4,193 deaths.

* Italy is considering extending until Jan. 31 next year its state of emergency over the COVID-19 crisis, two national newspapers said on Thursday. The emergency, set to expire in mid-October, gives the government greater powers, allowing officials to more easily bypass the bureaucracy that smothers much decision-making in Italy. Dailies Il Messagero and Corriere della Sera said a cabinet meeting discussed the issue late on Wednesday.

* Facebook Inc on Wednesday banned ads on its flagship website and Instagram photo and video sharing service that claim widespread voting fraud, suggest US election results would be invalid, or which attack any method of voting. The company announced the new rules in a blog post, adding to earlier restrictions on premature claims of election victory.

* The United Arab Emirates saw on Wednesday its highest daily total of coronavirus infections since the start of the outbreak, with 1,100 new cases. Infections in the Gulf Arab state have surged over the past two months from 164 on Aug. 3, which authorities have blamed on people's poor adherence to social distancing measures. The UAE's nationwide tally stands at 94,190 infections and 419 deaths, although the government does not disclose where in the seven emirates they happened.

* Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said on Wednesday the International Monetary Fund's executive board approved a US$6.5 billion loan for Ecuador that would provide financial support for sectors affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Ecuador reached a technical agreement in August with the IMF to access the loan within the framework of the Expanded Service program as the oil-exporting nation is hit by low crude prices and the effects of the pandemic.

* The World Bank has approved a loan of US$500 million to Colombia to support the Andean country's basic infrastructure needs and protect vulnerable groups during the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Wednesday.

* Jordan warned on Wednesday it could be forced to return to a full lockdown, potentially devastating its fragile economy, after recording 1,767 new cases of COVID-19, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak. The country's total number of confirmed infections now stands at 11,816, with 61 deaths since the first case surfaced in early March, Health Minister Saad Jaber said in a statement.

* Peru will restart international flights to some regional countries, the government said on Wednesday, as it aims to lift coronavirus restrictions and reopen its economy. Flights to 11 destinations in Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Panama will resume on Oct. 5, President Martin Vizcarra said, adding that health protocols including coronavirus tests for passengers arriving to Peru will be mandatory.

* South Africa will not allow tourists from countries with higher infection and death rates, including Britain, the United States and France, to enter when its borders open up on Oct. 1, ministers said.

* The United Arab Emirates saw its highest daily total of infections since the start of the outbreak, with 1,100 new cases.

* Jordan warned it could be forced to return to a full lockdown, potentially devastating its fragile economy, after recording 1,767 new cases, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak.