World News in Brief: February 12

The European Commission has so far approved all requests for the export of COVID-19 vaccines, including to Britain, the United States, China and Japan, since it set up on Jan. 30 a mechanism to monitor vaccine flows.

Students queue up to enter the classroom at a school reopened after a long gap of several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kolkata, India, Feb. 12, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)
Students queue up to enter the classroom at a school reopened after a long gap of several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kolkata, India, Feb. 12, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

* The first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Japan on Friday, local media reported, with official approval for the shots expected within days as the country races to control a third wave of infections ahead of the Olympic Games.

* Top diplomats of the Republic of Korea and the United States held phone talks over issues on the Korean Peninsula and other issues of mutual concern, Seoul's foreign ministry said on Friday.

* Brazil registered 54,742 COVID-19 infections and 1,351 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the totals to 9,713,909 cases and 236,201 deaths, the health ministry said on Thursday.

* Russia registered 15,089 more COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, roughly the same as a day earlier, the country's COVID-19 response center said Friday. The national tally has thus increased to 4,042,837 with 79,194 deaths and 3,559,142 recoveries, the center said.

* The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Friday 2,022 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 545,300. The death toll climbed to 11,495 after 26 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

* Thailand on Friday confirmed 175 new cases of coronavirus infection, mostly domestic, official reports showed. Thailand has so far confirmed 24,279 cases, 21,681 of which were domestic ones while 2,598 others were imported cases.

* Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to have a little more patience after agreeing with regional leaders to extend a coronavirus lockdown until March 7 and said restrictions would not last a day longer than necessary.

* Portugal's parliament on Thursday approved the renewal of the state of emergency in the country through March 1, allowing the government to keep all lockdown and anti-COVID-19 measures in place until March 1.

* Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria will be placed under a five-day lockdown until Wednesday, state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday, after a cluster linked to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne reached 13 cases.

* New COVID-19 cases in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, are likely to rise again beginning in late February as a more contagious variant of the coronavirus spreads, and intensive care admissions could follow in March, a panel of experts advising the provincial government said on Thursday.

* AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine is not perfect, but will have a big impact on the pandemic, its chief executive officer predicted, as the drugmaker pledged to double output by April and the African Union gave its backing for the shot.

* Merck said it was in talks with governments and companies to potentially help with manufacturing of vaccines that have been already authorized.

* South Africa has secured millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines to fight the highly infectious COVID-19 variant that is dominant in the country.

* Kenya is going ahead with its plan to inoculate its citizens using AstraZeneca's vaccine, while Zimbabwe has bought 600,000 shots from China's Sinopharm, in addition to 200,000 China has donated.

Reuters, Xinhua