World News in Brief: November 21

Saturday, 2020-11-21 17:36:11
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Residents wait in line outside a Costco Warehouse in Los Angeles, the United States, on Nov. 20, 2020. The United States reported more than one million new COVID-19 cases over the past week, a 26 percent increase over the previous week, according to latest data of the COVID Tracking Project. (Photo: Xinhua)
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took over the rotating chairmanship of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) on Saturday (November 21), when she joined leaders from the 21 APEC economies virtually for the forum's final 2020 meeting. Receiving the mantle of APEC chairmanship from Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Ardern said the country is looking forward to hosting a fully virtual APEC 2021 next year.

* More than 57.55 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,371,487 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

* The World Health Organization has suspended Gilead's remdesivir from its pre-qualification medicines list.

* The US Food and Drug Administration's outside advisers will meet on Dec. 10 to discuss whether to authorize the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech for emergency use, the agency said on Friday. The move comes after Pfizer applied for the authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine earlier in the day, the first such application in a major step toward providing protection against the new coronavirus.

* Pfizer said it will apply to US health regulators for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine.

* AstraZeneca started late-stage trials on Saturday of an experimental long-acting monoclonal antibody combination drug it hopes could be used as a so-called prophylactic to prevent COVID-19 infection in at-risk people for up to 12 months. The Phase III international clinical trial will recruit a total of 5,000 people across countries in Europe and the United States to assess the safety and effectiveness of the antibody cocktail, known as AZD7442.

* Brazil is expected to pass 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as the world's third-worst coronavirus outbreak begins to surge again.

* India on Saturday summoned a senior Pakistani diplomat over what New Delhi said was a foiled attack this week in the frontier territory of Jammu and Kashmir by a Pakistan-based militant group, a charge the neighbouring country denied.

* US health authorities braced for further increases in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths on Friday as capping a week in which the spread of the coronavirus accelerated ahead Thanksgiving holiday.

* Cases in Europe surpassed 15 million, with the region reporting a million new infections about every four days as winter approaches.

* Shopping centres will reopen in Poland from Saturday next week, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, in a boost to retailers in the run-up to Christmas.

* Russia reported a daily record of 24,822 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, including 7,168 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national tally to 2,064,748. Authorities also reported 467 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 35,778.

* Japan said it will suspend a domestic travel campaign in areas where coronavirus infections are especially high as cases nationwide hit a record high on Saturday.

* Italy's government has approved a new package worth around EUR10 billion (US$11.9 billion) to support businesses hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the measures approved late on Friday, Rome will immediately offer EUR1.95 billion in grants to coronavirus-hit businesses and food aid for the poor.

* The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 4,998 within one day to 493,308, with the death toll adding by 96 to 15,774, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. According to the ministry, 3,403 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 413,955. The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.

* The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Saturday reported 1,791 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the total number in the country to 416,852. The DOH said 328 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 375,548. The death toll climbed to 8,080 after 55 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH added.

* South Australia was on track on Saturday to end its hard COVID-19 lockdown three days early, recording only one new infection, while other states marked weeks of no new cases or deaths related to the novel coronavirus. Neighbouring Victoria, for months Australia's epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, on Saturday posted its 22nd consecutive day of no new infections and no deaths. Victoria has recorded 90% of the country's 907 coronavirus-related deaths.

* A substantial part of the Spanish population will be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the first half of 2021, its prime minister said.

* Germany reported record new cases, upping the pressure for stricter restrictions.

* Portugal's parliament approved a 15-day extension of a state of emergency from next week to allow continuation of coronavirus measures.

* Canada is seeing a massive spike in COVID-19 cases, which could overwhelm the hospital system, its prime minister said, imploring Canadians to stay home as much as possible.

* Turkey's daily death toll from the coronavirus hit a record high of 141, as the country braced for nationwide measures.

* The number deaths in the Czech Republic linked to COVID-19 doubled in November and passed the 7,000 mark, health ministry data showed on Saturday. Recorded fatalities reached 7,021 as of Saturday, compared with the 3,523 recorded by the end of October, according to the figures.

* Ukraine registered a record 14,580 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Saturday, surpassing the previous day's record of 14,575. The total tally climbed to 612,665 cases, with 10,813 deaths, he added.

* More than 60 prisoners broke out of a Lebanese jail on Saturday and five of them were killed when their car hit a tree while under pursuit, security sources and the state news agency said. They fled from Baabda district prison at dawn after breaking open cell doors, state news agency NNA said, adding security forces had cordoned off surrounding areas.