World News in Brief: August 13

India's trade deficit almost tripled to a record 30 billion USD in July compared to a year ago, said official data released by the country's Commerce and Industry Ministry. The rise in trade deficit has been attributed to a surge in imports driven by elevated global commodity prices.

Firefighters have managed to halt the spread of a "monster" blaze in southwest France, allowing authorities to reopen a stretch of highway to traffic ahead of a busy travel weekend.
Firefighters have managed to halt the spread of a "monster" blaze in southwest France, allowing authorities to reopen a stretch of highway to traffic ahead of a busy travel weekend.

* Laos recorded a trade deficit of 114 million USD in July, according to a report on Friday from the Lao Trade portal website. The total value of trade in July amounted to 968 million dollars, of which 427 million dollars was exports and 541 million dollars was imports.

* Higher energy prices contributed directly to both the increases in the value of imports and exports, while the overall volume of trade declined, data from the Italian government's statistics office (ISTAT) showed on Friday.

* The Central Bank of Malta has once again revised downwards its projected gross domestic product growth by 0.2 percentage points to 5.2 percent for this year, according to an update to its outlook for the Maltese economy issued on Friday.

* Spain's inflation rate climbed to 10.8 percent in July, the highest in 38 years, according to data published by the Spanish Statistical Institute (INE) on Friday.

* Pakistan's economic recovery continued during the first half of the 2021-2022 fiscal year ending in June, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has said in a report.

* Two more ships left from Ukraine's Black Sea ports on Saturday, Turkey's defence ministry said, bringing the total number of ships to depart the country under a U.N.-brokered deal to 16.

* President Joe Biden said he will next week sign into law a 430 billion USD bill that is seen as the biggest climate package in US history, designed to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions and lower prescription drug prices.

* Russian oil flows to the Czech Republic through the Druzhba pipeline resumed after more than a week on Friday evening, Czech pipeline operator MERO said, as transit fee payments were unblocked.

* China's most populous city Shanghai has extended its weekly COVID-19 test requirement and extended free testing until the end of September in a bid to keep the virus in check, authorities announced on Saturday.

* India's daily COVID-19 caseload decreased to 15,815 on Saturday, taking the total tally to 44,239,372 in the country, according to federal health ministry data.

* Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it has allowed all types of visitors, including those holding tourist visas, to perform Umrah in the kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

* The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced new names for variants of the monkeypox virus that are currently in circulation. This is to avoid causing any cultural or social offense, the WHO explained in a statement on Friday.

* The 10th case of monkeypox was confirmed in the Indian capital city New Delhi, local media reported Saturday.

* A total of 168 aid workers have been attacked so far this year, leading to 44 fatalities, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said here on Friday.

* More than 16,000 hectares of land in the largest protected area in Portugal, Serra da Estrela Park, have already been destroyed by a fire that started last Saturday, the European Forest Fire Information System reported on Friday.

* Torrential rains and flash floods have killed at least 21 people including women and children and injured scores in Afghanistan's Logar, Wardak and Khost provinces, the state-run Bakhtar news agency reported Saturday.

* One person has died and another 40 were injured early Saturday morning after strong gusts of wind led to the collapse of several structures and parts of the stage at the Medusa music festival, a huge electronic music festival held in the Spanish coastal town of Cullera.

* Vaccine maker Novavax NVAX.O said it had received approval in the Republic of Korea for use of its vaccine Nuvaxovid in adolescents aged 12 through 17.

* A small study is adding to evidence that children can develop long COVID-19 even if the virus did not make them seriously ill, according to a study published in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.