World News in Brief: January 18

Monday, 2021-01-18 16:37:53
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Workers prepare fruits and vegetables to be delivered to local residents in Nabatieh, southern Lebanon, on Jan. 16, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)
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China's gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded the CNY100-trillion (US$15.42 trillion) threshold in 2020, official data showed Monday. The country, which saw its GDP increase 2.3 percent year on year to CNY101.5986 trillion last year, is expected to be the only major economy to post growth in the pandemic-ravaged year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

* Singapore will resume hosting the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit this year after it was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers and the city-state's government said. This year's event is scheduled to be held on June 4–6.

* Japanese Finance Minister Aso Taro vowed Monday to revive the country's economy badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and boost structural reforms for the future.

* Authorities in India's national capital of New Delhi Monday reopened schools for the first time since March last year, officials said. The schools have been reopened only for classes 10 and 12.

* President-elect Joe Biden's goal of delivering 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine within the first 100 days of his presidency "is absolutely a doable thing," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday.

* Germany's health minister said on Monday that although measures to contain the coronavirus had started to have an effect, more needed to be done to bring it permanently under control.

* Brazilian health regulator Anvisa on Sunday approved emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd and Britain's AstraZeneca, clearing the way for immunizations as the pandemic enters a deadly second wave.

* The Chinese mainland on Sunday reported 109 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 93 locally transmitted cases and 16 arriving from outside the mainland, the National Health Commission said Monday.

* The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Monday reported 2,163 new daily confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, the highest in more than two months in this Southeast Asian country. The last time the daily new cases in the Philippines exceeded Monday's number was on Nov. 8, 2020, which stood at 2,442.

* Russia reported 22,857 new coronavirus cases on Monday, including 3,679 in Moscow, taking the national tally - the world's fourth highest - to 3,591,066. Authorities said 471 people had died from the virus in the last 24 hours, pushing Russia's official death toll to 66,037.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 7,141 to 2,040,659, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by 214 to 46,633, the tally showed.

* Mexico reported 11,170 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 463 more fatalities on Sunday, according to the Health Ministry, bringing its total to 1,641,428 infections and 140,704 deaths.

* Portugal's public health system is on the verge of collapsing as hospitals in the areas worst-affected by a worrying surge in coronavirus cases are quickly running out of intensive care beds to treat COVID-19 patients.

* Britain's government hopes to ease some lockdown restrictions in March as it presses ahead with Europe's fastest rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday.

* Austria on Sunday extend its third COVID-19 lockdown into February, hoping to drive down infection rates despite an influx of variants that spread the coronavirus more easily.

* France registered 16,642 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, according to figures released by the Public Health Agency on Sunday. France's cumulative total of COVID-19 cases now stands at 2,910,989. The death toll went up by 141 in 24 hours to reach 70,283.

* Moderna will deliver 7.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Switzerland in batches in the months ahead, putting the country among the world leaders in inoculating its population, the head of Moderna's European business said.

* Australia may not fully reopen its international borders this year even if most of the population is vaccinated against coronavirus, the head of its health department said on Monday as the country recorded zero local COVID-19 cases.

* Pfizer's reduction of its COVID-19 vaccine shipments will not delay Canada's goal of getting most people inoculated by the end of September, the country's procurement minister said on Friday as the country battled a second surge in infections.

* German pharmaceutical giant Bayer is examining whether it can help CureVac to produce its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, its chief executive was quoted as saying on Sunday.

* Pfizer Inc has been holding on to second doses for each of its COVID-19 vaccinations at the request of the federal government and anticipates no problems supplying them to Americans, a spokeswoman said in a statement on Friday.

* Uzbekistan plans to purchase 100,000 doses of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, the Central Asian nation's health ministry said on Monday. The country of 34 million is working on the deal together with vaccine alliance Gavi, the ministry said in a statement.

* Some 83 people have died and 160 people are injured after militia attacks on the West Darfur city of El Geneina in Sudan, a local doctors' union said on Sunday. Violence has increased in Darfur in recent months, and two weeks after U.N. peacekeepers stopped patrolling the region ahead of a full withdrawal.

* The Bangladeshi government has approved two new COVID-19 stimulus packages of BDT27 billion to support small and medium enterprises and low-income communities.

* Bahrain attracted US$885 million in direct investment in 2020 through new companies setting up and expanding in the kingdom, the country's investment agency said in a statement on Monday.

* Ghana's COVID-19 infection rates are skyrocketing and include new strains of the virus not before seen in the country, filling treatment centres and threatening to overwhelm the health system, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Sunday.

* The United Arab Emirates has lowered the minimum age requirement to receive a COVID-19 vaccination to 16, from 18 previously, the ministry of health said on Sunday.

* Oman will close its land borders for one week from Monday to curb the spread of the coronavirus, especially a more contagious variant, state news agency ONA said on Sunday.

* Lebanon's caretaker health minister signed a final deal on Sunday to secure 2.1 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine as the country battles a steep rise in infections.

Xinhua, Reuters