World News in Brief: February 17

Wednesday, 2021-02-17 15:43:48
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Staff members load a box of Pfizer Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine on a trolley at a hospital in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 16, 2021. (Source: Pool via Xinhua)
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Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen has signed a sub-decree on establishing the National Internet Gateway (NIG) with the aim of facilitating and managing online traffic.

* China reported seven new COVID-19 cases on Feb. 16, down from 16 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Wednesday. Total confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stand at 89,795. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,636.

* The United States last week reported a 23% drop in new cases of COVID-19 and a 16% fall in the number of people hospitalized with the virus, with both figures declining for a fifth week in a row.

* Japan on Wednesday began administering its first COVID-19 vaccinations to medical workers, with the first inoculations using the vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German partner BioNTech taking place at the National Hospital Organization Tokyo Medical Center.

* India's COVID-19 tally rose to 10,937,320 on Wednesday as 11,610 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry. According to the official data, the death toll mounted to 155,913 with 100 new deaths.

* Russia on Wednesday reported 12,828 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, including 1,282 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,112,151. Authorities also reported another 467 deaths, raising the official toll to 81,446.

* The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Wednesday 1,184 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 553,424.

* Mexico surpassed 2 million coronavirus cases while new infections in the United States fell for a fifth week in a row, with the White House increasing its supply of vaccines to states and pharmacies this week.

* The United Kingdom could give two doses of vaccine to all adults by August or September, the interim head of the country's vaccine taskforce told Sky News.

* US Treasury yields hit one-year highs on Wednesday, lending support to the dollar but pressuring lofty valuations for stocks, as investors reckoned that a stimulus-fuelled global recovery will eventually bring rising inflation.

* Japan's exports accelerated in January, led by a jump in Chinese demand, and manufacturers' sentiment turned positive for the first time since 2019.

* India will increase the number of its vaccination sites by up to five times after administering nearly 9 million shots in a month.

* Arab League (AL) Secretary-General Aboul-Gheit and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland discussed on Tuesday the developments in Palestine and Israel in light of the upcoming elections in the two countries.

* France reported 19,590 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, sharply up from 4,376 confirmed a day before, and 18,870 a week ago, health authorities said on Tuesday.

* Denmark registered the more contagious coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, first detected in Britain, in close to half of all positive tests in the second week of February.

* The White House is increasing the supply of vaccines sent each week to states to 13.5 million doses, and is also doubling the amount shipped to pharmacies to 2 million doses this week.

* Moderna said the release of some of its vaccine doses to the US government have lagged recently because of "short-term delays" in the final stages of production at its contractor Catalent.

* Mexico will this week raise concerns at the United Nations Security Council about unequal access to vaccines globally, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.

* Sources said the EU is in talks with Moderna on buying more vaccines, while Australia's medical regulator granted provisional approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

* New Zealand will lower the COVID-19 alert level in its largest city Auckland on Wednesday midnight after five community cases have been found over the past four days.

* At least 20 people have died in a series of winter storms across the United States over the past few days, local media reported on Tuesday.

* The COVID-19 second wave in Canada's epidemiological curve has been trending downward for weeks, with the seven-day national average dropping from about 8,000 daily cases in early January to 3,000 over Valentine's Day weekend.

* The Portuguese government decreed Tuesday to levy a carbon tax of EUR2 (US$2.42) per passenger on air or sea travel starting July.

* The first batch of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine purchased by Hungary arrived at Budapest on Tuesday.

* South Africa plans to share 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses with other African countries.

* Iraq recorded a sharp rise in cases after it confirmed infections of one of the newer variants of the coronavirus.

* Pizza, hummus, pastry and a cup of coffee were on the menu on Tuesday to entice Israelis to get their vaccinations.

* Zimbabwe will begin vaccinating on Thursday, starting with health workers and other essential service personnel.

Xinhua, Reuters