World News in Brief: December 21

The Philippines expects to receive 30 million doses of Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine by July next year, its foreign minister said on Monday, boosting the country's effort to secure supplies to inoculate more than 100 million people.

People wearing face masks visit an alley in Ipoh, Malaysia, Dec. 20, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
People wearing face masks visit an alley in Ipoh, Malaysia, Dec. 20, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

* Europe's medicines regulator will on Monday assess the COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by US company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, with a green light to put Europe on course to start inoculations within a week. European Union countries including Germany, Austria and Italy have said they plan to start vaccinations from Dec. 27 as Europe tries to catch up with the United States and Britain where the roll-out began earlier this month.

* Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide's government approved a ninth consecutive rise in military spending on Monday. The Ministry of Defense will get a record JPY5.34 trillion (US$51.7 billion) for the year starting in April, up 1.1% from this year.

* US President Donald Trump signed a temporary spending bill into law on Sunday night to avoid a government shutdown, the White House said in a statement.

* Mainland China recorded 23 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 20, the same number of cases from the previous day, said the country's health authority on Monday. Mainland China has now reported an accumulated total of 86,852 coronavirus cases, with 4,634 deaths.

* India has recorded 24,337 new cases of the novel coronavirus, health ministry data showed on Monday, taking its tally to 10.06 million infections. India's total number of infections passed the 10 million milestone mark on Saturday, but the rate of new infections has slowed considerably since a September peak.

* Russia on Monday reported a record 29,350 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, including 7,797 in Moscow, pushing the total number of cases to 2,877,727 since the pandemic began. Authorities confirmed 493 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 51,351.

* Thailand confirmed 382 new coronavirus infections on Monday, with the majority of cases linked to a seafood centre outbreak in a province near the capital, the health ministry said.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 16,643 to 1,510,652, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by 226 to 26,275, the tally showed.

* Mexico's health ministry on Sunday reported 6,870 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 326 more fatalities, bringing the country's totals to 1,320,545 cases and 118,202 deaths.

* French health minister Olivier Veran said on Monday that it was possible a new strain of the COVID virus was circulating in France, although recent tests had not detected it in the country.

* Flights from Britain to Denmark will be suspended for 48 hours starting Monday at 0900 GMT to limit the spread of a new strain of coronavirus, the country's transport minister said on Twitter early Monday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that the new strain had led to spiraling infection numbers.

* Republic of Korea's capital Seoul and surrounding areas banned gatherings of more than four people over the Christmas and New Year holidays as the country recorded its highest daily death toll from the coronavirus on Monday. The ROK reported 926 new coronavirus cases, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Monday, down from a record high 1,097 the day before.

* Flights from Britain to Poland will be suspended starting from midnight on Monday due to concerns over a new strain of coronavirus, a Polish government spokesman said on Twitter.