World News in Brief: August 15

Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported on Saturday (August 15), citing the health ministry. Russia has said the vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute and the first for the coronavirus to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of this month.

Russia on August 11 became the world`s first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, to be named “Sputnik V” in homage to the Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first satellite.
Russia on August 11 became the world`s first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, to be named “Sputnik V” in homage to the Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first satellite.

* Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that as many three COVID-19 vaccines are in different stages of trials in the country, and once they are finally produced, India will ramp up infrastructure for mass production of the vaccines. Addressing the nation on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort, a historic monument in Delhi, Modi expressed hopes that the country will win the fight against the virus.

* Chinese health authority said Saturday that it received reports of 22 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Friday (August 14), including 14 imported cases and eight locally transmitted ones. As of Friday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland had reached 84,808, including 655 patients who were still being treated, with 36 in severe conditions. Altogether 79,519 people had been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 had died of the disease on the mainland.

* A new ensemble forecast published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has projected up to 200,000 total COVID-19 deaths in the United States by Sept. 5. The projection published Thursday forecast that 4,200 to 10,600 new COVID-19 deaths will be reported during the week ending Sept. 5 and that 180,000 to 200,000 total COVID-19 deaths will be reported by that date. The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 5.29 million as of Friday afternoon with more than 168,100 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

* The Brazilian Ministry of Health reported on Friday 50,644 new COVID-19 cases and 1,060 more deaths in the last 24 hours. The national caseload rose to 3,275,520 and the death toll reached 106,523, according to the ministry. Brazil has the highest number of cases and deaths in Latin America. The health ministry added that so far, 2,384,302 people in the country have recovered from the disease.

* Total COVID-19 cases in India crossed the 2.5 million mark in India on Saturday, reaching 2,526,192, as the total deaths reached 49,036, showed the latest data issued by the federal health ministry. As many as 65,002 new cases were added to the tally since Friday, while 996 people died in the past 24 hours due to the virus. Still there are 668,220 active COVID-19 cases across the country. Till Friday 1,808,936 people have been successfully cured and discharged from hospitals.

* Russia reported 5,061 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, bringing its nationwide tally to 917,884, the fourth highest caseload in the world. Russia's coronavirus crisis response centre said 119 people had also died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 15,617. It added that 729,411 people have recovered.

* New Zealand reported seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the New Zealand Ministry of Health said in a statement. All seven cases were from community transmission. Six were already linked to previous cases in the cluster outbreak, and one remained under investigation, it was said. On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the Alert Level 3 lockdown for Auckland region and Alert level 2 restriction for the rest of the country to continue for 12 days until Aug. 26.

* Republic of Korea reported 166 more cases of the COVID-19 as of 0:00 a.m. Saturday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 15,039. The daily caseload stayed above 100 for two straight days, marking the first time since late March that the reading jumped in triple digits for two days in a row. The domestic infections surged in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province traceable to church services. The Seoul municipal and the Gyeonggi provincial governments ordered all religious offline services to be stopped for two weeks.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,415 to 222,828, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 6 to 9,231, the tally showed.

* Mexico's health ministry on Friday reported 5,618 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 615 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 511,369 cases and 55,908 deaths. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

* The Romanian government decided late Friday to extend the expiring state of alert by another 30 days from Aug. 16, in response to the increasingly severe epidemic situation in the country. This is the third time that the government has extended the state of alert which first started in mid-May, following the end of a two-month higher-level state of emergency. Daily new COVID-19 cases have exceeded 1,400 for three consecutive days in Romania, reaching 1,415 in the last 24 hours, according to official statistics.

* Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa announced Friday that nightclubs and night-time bars nationwide will be closed, in part of the latest government measures to curb coronavirus resurgence. Illa detailed a raft of measures that were agreed at an emergency meeting with regional health officials, according to an online story by Spain's best-selling newspaper El Pais.

* Ukraine registered 1,847 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, officials said on Saturday, a new daily record for infections in the country - which is seeing cases increase sharply following the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions. The figure given by the national council of security and defence surpassed the previous single-day record of 1,732 reported on Friday. Total cases reached 89,719, including 2,044 deaths. Infections have risen since June as authorities have eased some restrictions, allowing cafes, churches and public transport to reopen.

* China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun on Friday asked the United States to change course over the Iran nuclear issue and return to the right track of multilateralism. In an explanation of vote after the Security Council rejected a US draft resolution that sought to extend the arms embargo against Iran, Zhang said the voting result once again shows that unilateralism receives no support, and bullying will fail. Any attempt to place one's own interest above the common interests of the international community is a dead end.

* The Philippine government on Friday said it is imposing a ban on the importation of chickens from Brazil following reports of the coronavirus contamination of poultry products from that South American country. The decision comes after Chinese health officials report that a sample of frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil to Shenzhen, a city in southern China, tested positive for the coronavirus. Despite the importation ban, the department assured the public that chicken products from the Philippine market are safe.

* Japan on Saturday commemorated the 75th anniversary of its surrender in World War II, with Emperor Naruhito expressing his "deep remorse" over Japan's wartime actions at an annual mourning ceremony in Tokyo. The emperor and empress, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a limited number of people attended the ceremony which was scaled back due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

* Republic of Korea's President Moon Jae-in said on Saturday, the 75th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War Two, that his government was always ready to talk with Tokyo about disputes over history that continue to divide the two neighbours. Moon was speaking at an anniversary celebration marking the Korean peninsula's liberation from Japan's 1910-1945 colonisation.

* US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron "expressed concern over increased tension between NATO Allies Greece and Turkey" during a call on Friday, a White House spokesman said. NATO allies Turkey and Greece are embroiled in a dispute over Turkish oil and gas exploration in disputed eastern Mediterranean waters. Turkey said on Friday France should refrain from steps that escalate tensions after the French military conducted training exercises with Greek forces in the region on Thursday.

* International trade of member countries of the European Union (EU) remained at notably lower levels in June 2020 compared with the pre-COVID-19 situation a year ago, although there were signs of improvement compared with the previous months, the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) reported on Friday. The first estimate for Eurozone's exports of goods to the rest of the world in June was EUR170.3 billion (US$201.5 billion), down by 10 percent compared with June 2019. Imports from the rest of the world stood at EUR149.1 billion, a year-on-year fall of 12.2 percent compared with June 2019.

* Canada and the United States have agreed to keep the border between the two countries closed to non-essential travel for another month to stem the spread of COVID-19, Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Friday. The agreement, which was first introduced in March and has been extended each month since, will remain in place until at least Sept. 21.

* A team of scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru have developed a sustainable process to make space bricks on the lunar surface. Space exploration has grown exponentially in the last century. With the Earth's resources dwindling rapidly, scientists have intensified their efforts to inhabit the moon and possibly other planets. According to IISc, the cost of sending one pound of material to outer space is about INR 750,000 (USS$10,020).

* Pakistani President Arif Alvi said on Friday that Pakistan has overcome several challenges in the recent years including defeating terrorism and extremism. Pakistan's 74th Independence Day was celebrated across the country on Friday with traditional enthusiasm and zeal, and President Alvi hoisted the national flag at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, or the presidential house, in the capital Islamabad. Pakistan got independence from the British colonial rule on Aug. 14, 1947.

* The foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) on Friday urged the Lebanese government to address the economic and social crisis in the wake of the deadly explosions that rocked Lebanon's capital Beirut last week. In a video conference urgently called by Josep Borrell, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, the ministers demanded the Lebanese authorities rebuild trust and reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund about financial support.

* The United Arab Emirates has made a "huge mistake" in reaching a deal toward normalizing ties with Israel, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Saturday. He warned the Gulf state against allowing Israel to have a “foothold in the region.” The UAE-Israel agreement, announced on Thursday, is seen as a strategic boost for the UAE’s regional and global standing.