World News in Brief: April 19

Monday, 2021-04-19 19:54:41
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People without masks are seen outdoors in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 18, 2021. Israel on Sunday lifted the requirement to wear masks outside and fully reopened its education system, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to drop in the country. (Source: JINI via Xinhua)
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More than 141.47 million people have been reported as having been infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,159,601 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

* Strong winds and high waves lashed the eastern Philippines on Monday as the strongest typhoon ever recorded in April barrelled past in the Pacific Ocean, killing one man and triggering flooding in lower-lying communities, disaster officials said.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it is expelling 20 staffers of the Czech embassy in Moscow in response to the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats from the Czech Republic.

* Nearly 192.13 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across China as of Sunday, the National Health Commission said Monday. The Chinese mainland on Sunday reported 11 new imported COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 90,510, according to the commission.

* The COVID-19 vaccination program in Laos is underway and the majority of people in target areas have had their first dose of the vaccine. The Lao government plans to vaccinate at least 150,000 people in the initial stages of the program.

* Cambodia on Monday predicted that international tourist arrivals to the kingdom this year would decline by another 70 percent due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19. The report of the Ministry of Tourism said the Southeast Asian country received 1.31 million international tourists in 2020, down 80 percent from 6.61 million in 2019.

* Malaysia started phase 2 of its national immunization program against COVID-19 on Monday, expanding to other high risk groups following the vaccination of the country's frontliners.

* The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 4,952 within one day to 1,609,300, with the death toll adding by 143 to 43,567, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

* Brazil's COVID-19 death toll on Sunday reached 373,335 after registering another 1,657 fatalities, the country's ministry of health reported. According to the ministry, another 42,980 cases were registered, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 13,943,071.

* Just more than half of US adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Sunday, with nearly 130 million people aged 18 years or more having received their first shot.

* The European Union has exercised an option to acquire an additional 100 million doses of BioNTech and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, the two companies said.

* Denmark's health authority said it may be possible for people to choose to have the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine if they wish, Ritzau news agency reported.

* The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units in France edged up on Sunday, amid a nationwide lockdown to try to stem a third wave of infections.

* British scientists launched a trial which will deliberately expose participants who have already had COVID-19 to the coronavirus again to examine immune responses and see if people get reinfected.

* Canada will present a budget with billions of dollars for pandemic recovery measures as COVID-19 infections skyrocket, CAD2 billion (US$1.6 billion) toward national childcare, and new taxes on luxury goods.

* The number of people heading out to shops across Britain jumped 87.8% in the week to April 17 versus the previous week as non-essential stores in England reopened after three months of COVID-19 lockdown, market researcher Springboard said.

* Spain will study the effects of mixing different coronavirus vaccines, government researchers said on Monday, responding to shifting guidelines on the safety of the AstraZeneca's shot.

* Poland may be able to open up a significant part of the economy at the end of May or beginning of June, depending on progress with COVID-19 vaccinations, the prime minister said on Monday.

* NASA successfully launched its Mars helicopter Ingenuity from the surface of the Red Planet earlier on Monday, marking the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.

* The coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa can break through the protection provided by Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study in Israel found.

* Vaccination against COVID-19 is a requirement to perform the Umra pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi state TV said on Sunday, citing a government official.