World News in Brief: November 19

Thursday, 2020-11-19 14:58:44
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In his opening speech at the APEC CEO Dialogues Malaysia 2020, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the goal is integral to rebuilding economies in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Thursday (November 19) urged members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to recommit themselves to the group's core goal of free and open trade and investment. In his opening speech at the APEC CEO Dialogues Malaysia 2020, Muhyiddin said the goal is integral to rebuilding economies in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

* The European Commission is working to avoid the risk of a double-dip recession in Europe, Paolo Gentiloni, the European Commissioner for Economy, said on Wednesday. Explaining the priorities of the commission's guidance for the member states of the European Union (EU) in its autumn semester package, Gentiloni underlined that "emergency response and transformation should go hand in hand."

* United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for a major and rapid change in the fight against climate disruption. Noting that climate crisis is "the most pressing issue of our time," Guterres said that young people "are having a major impact."

* Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Kabul on Thursday to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, at a time when peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives have stalled and violence is rising. This will be Khan's first visit to Afghanistan since assuming office over two years ago.

* Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani on Wednesday called on Israelis and Palestinians to resume long-stalled peace talks on the basis of a two-state solution during his official visit to Israel. Al-Zayani made the remarks in joint press statements in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

* Brazil's Senate approved a bill on Wednesday to provide BRL4 billion (about US$755 million) to aid the struggling public transportation sector, which has seen ridership plummet in the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will go to cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants to prevent hikes in fares and modernize transit systems with electronic tickets and new technologies.

* A potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University produced a strong immune response in older adults, giving hope it may protect some of those most vulnerable to the disease, data from mid-stage trials showed.

* The Chinese mainland on Wednesday reported no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the National Health Commission said Thursday. A total of 12 imported COVID-19 cases were reported across the mainland Wednesday. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland reached 86,381 by Wednesday, including 314 still receiving treatment, one of whom was in severe condition.

* India's COVID-19 tally reached 8,958,483 on Thursday as 45,576 new cases were registered across the country in the past 24 hours, according to the latest data released by the federal health ministry. With 585 deaths since Wednesday morning, the total death toll in the country due to the pandemic mounted to 131,578.

* The number of daily COVID-19-related deaths has been rising in Brazil for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said. The ministry reported 140 deaths on Sunday, 216 on Monday and 685 on Tuesday, and 756 on Wednesday, raising the COVID-19 death toll in Brazil to 167,455. The ministry also reported 34,091 new cases of infections, raising the national count to 5,945,849.

* Russia on Thursday surpassed 2 million coronavirus cases after reporting an additional 23,610 infections and 463 deaths related to COVID-19, both record daily rises. Russia is fifth in the number of infections reported, with 2,015,608, behind the United States, India, Brazil and France. Russia's official death toll now stands at 34,850.

* Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen has allowed the reopening of all schools, museums, cinemas, and weddings after about 1,420 people in contact with an earlier COVID-19-infected visitor were cleared of the coronavirus.

* The Federation of Thai Industries' Automotive Industry Club said on Wednesday that it forecast a production of 1.42 million cars this year, exceeding the target by 20,000 units, thanks to the Thai government's easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

* Reducing carbon emissions from the energy sector through efficient power generation, deployment of renewable technologies and addressing venting and flaring from oil and gas production are included in Brunei's efforts to tackle climate change, Minister of Energy Haji Mat Suny said.

* The Japanese capital of Tokyo reported 534 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, renewing a record number of daily infections and exceeding the 500-mark for the first time, as the local government raised its virus alert by one notch to the highest level. It is the second straight day that new cases in the capital, the epicenter of Japan's outbreak, hit a fresh daily record.

* Australia's unemployment rate has risen slightly in October. According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday, the unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percent from 6.9 percent in September to 7.0 percent in October. However, the number of employed Australians rose by 178,800 -- or 1.4 percent -- and the number of hours worked rose by 1.2 percent.

*Republic of Korea reported 343 more cases of the COVID-19 as of midnight Wednesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 29,654. The daily caseload stayed above 300 for two straight days, growing in triple digits for 12 days running due to the continued small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.

* US land borders with Canada and Mexico are expected to remain closed to non-essential travel until Dec. 21 at the earliest amid a rising number of US coronavirus cases.

* Canada's COVID-19 cases continue to increase, with the total number hitting 310,350 as of Wednesday evening, according to CTV. The fatalities in the country also rose, reaching 11,176 on Wednesday. Both community transmission and outbreaks are contributing to COVID-19 spread in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada on Wednesday.

* Britain is not abandoning its commitment to providing international aid amid media reports its budget will be cut drastically, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday.

* Total coronavirus cases in Africa surpassed the 2 million mark despite the slow addition of reported infections compared to other regions around the world.

* Spain's medicines agency authorised the launch of late-stage trials of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine on Wednesday.

* Australian jobs surged past all expectations in October led by an easing of restrictions in the second-most populous state of Victoria, though the unemployment rate still ticked up to 7.0% as more people went out looking for work.

* The Argentine Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported 10,332 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the national count to 1,339,337. The ministry said 241 more patients died of the disease, bringing the nationwide death toll to 36,347.

* Uruguay, a relative coronavirus-free zone in hard-hit Latin America, is starting to see a worrying rise in cases.

* Iran registered 13,421 new infections in the past 24 hours, a new daily record.

Xinhua, Reuters