World News in Brief: April 20

Tuesday, 2021-04-20 17:32:08
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Passengers walk in the departure hall at the Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Belgium, April 19, 2021. Belgium on Monday ended its ban on non-essential travel within the European Union (EU). (Photo: Xinhua)
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The COVID-19-related economic slowdown failed to put a brake on climate change drivers and accelerating impacts, said a UN report released on Monday.

* The opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 was held in Boao, south China's Hainan Province, on Tuesday. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech via video at the opening ceremony.

* For a possible summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden to take place, a lot depends on the United States' further actions, RIA cited Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Tuesday.

* India will waive its 10% customs duty on imported COVID-19 vaccines, a senior government official told Reuters. The government will also fund a production capacity boost for vaccine makers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.

* Russian scientists have found the Sputnik V vaccine 97.6% effective against COVID-19 in a "real-world" assessment based on data from 3.8 million people, Moscow's Gamaleya Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund said.

* The US State Department has delivered COVID-19 vaccines to all of its eligible workforce deployed abroad as of Sunday and is expecting its entire workforce to have been fully vaccinated by mid-May, State Department officials said.

* Japanese researchers from the Riken research institute and the University of Tokyo among others said they have developed a testing method for COVID-19 that provides results within five minutes, local media reported Tuesday.

* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government lined up billions in new spending to provide emergency support during a virulent third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help launch an economic recovery ahead of an election expected later this year.

* Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno received president-elect and former banker Guillermo Lasso at the presidential palace in Quito on Monday to officially start the government transition process, with just over a month to go before the end of the current administration.

* Iran began enriching uranium to 60% purity in order to show its technical capacity after a sabotage attack at a nuclear plant, and the move is quickly reversible if the United States lifts sanctions, the Iranian government said on Tuesday.

* The US has 31,738,228 COVID-19 cases and 567,694 deaths, surpassing any other country in both figures, according to Johns Hopkins data as of Tuesday.

* A total of 259,170 new COVID-19 cases were reported in India in the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 15,321,089, according to the data released by the health ministry on Tuesday. Besides, 1,761 more deaths were recorded, bringing the death toll to 180,530.

* Italy reported 8,864 new coronavirus cases on Monday, as the country's authorities were planning to ease restrictions significantly by late April.

* Greece has lifted the self-quarantine requirement for travelers arriving in the country from the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia and Israel, Greece's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said Monday.

* French health minister Olivier Veran would favour a region-by-region easing of lockdown measures set up to tackle the COVID-19 virus, he told regional paper Le Telegramme.

* Britain will add India to its travel "red-list" on Friday after detecting 103 cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in the country.

* The US State Department said it will boost its "Do Not Travel" guidance to about 80% of countries worldwide, citing "unprecedented risk to travellers" from the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Colombia will extend measures such as nightly curfews and limits on who can enter shops and other businesses by two weeks as part of efforts to curb a third wave, the government said.

* New Zealand authorities reported that a worker in Auckland airport has tested positive for COVID-19, but doubted whether the new case would warrant ordering a pause in quarantine-free travel with Australia.

* Spain will study the effects of mixing different coronavirus vaccines, government researchers said.

* Greece has suspended a planned roll-out of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccinations, but does not expect that to impact its overall inoculation programme.

* Egypt has agreed to purchase 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China's Sinopharm and expects to receive a batch of 500,000 shots this month, its health ministry said on Tuesday.

* Israel signed a deal to buy millions of doses of vaccines from Pfizer through 2022.

* Six armed militants were killed and 28 people were freed from a Taliban detention center after the Afghan army launched a special operation in the restive southern province of Helmand on Monday night, the military confirmed Tuesday.

Reuters, Xinhua