World News in Brief: February 22

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed two decrees recognizing "the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR)" and "the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR)" as independent and sovereign states.

Getting infected twice with two different Omicron coronavirus subvariants is possible, but rarely happens, a Danish study has found.
Getting infected twice with two different Omicron coronavirus subvariants is possible, but rarely happens, a Danish study has found.

* United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday expressed his deep concern over Russia's decision on the status of Donetsk and Lugansk of Ukraine.

* Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called on all parties on the Ukraine issue to remain calm, ease tensions and resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation.

* White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that US President Joe Biden will soon sign an executive order banning Americans from doing business in the two Ukrainian regions that Russia has recognized as independent states.

* European Union leaders said Monday that the bloc will react with sanctions against those involved in Russia's recognition of eastern Ukraine's Lugansk and Donetsk regions as independent states.

* The Kremlin said on Tuesday it hoped Russia's recognition of two breakaway Ukrainian regions as independent would help restore calm and that Moscow remained open to diplomacy with the United States and other countries.

* The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday it had not seen an increased movement of people fleeing from Ukraine as tension mounts in two breakaway regions in the east, but it stands ready to help if the conflict worsens.

* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov brushed off the threat of sanctions on Tuesday, saying the West would impose them regardless of events and describing the response to Russia's recognition of two breakaway Ukrainian regions as predictable.

* German Chancellor Olaf Scholz put the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on ice on Tuesday after Russia formally recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

* Up to 150 US troops and military equipment will be arriving in Bulgaria this week for joint training amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.

* Natural gas flowed east in reverse mode through the Yamal-Europe pipeline on Tuesday, while President Vladimir Putin pledged Russia would continue to deliver uninterrupted supplies to world markets amid an escalating crisis in Ukraine.

* The Italian coastguard rescued 573 migrants at sea who were trying to reach Europe aboard two fishing boats in distress in bad weather, a statement said on Tuesday. One body was found.

* Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told gas exporters on Tuesday to avoid any "cruel" sanctions such as those imposed by the United States on Tehran, and his government said any revival of Iran's 2015 nuclear accord with world powers must lift such curbs.

* Qatar can divert 10% to 15% of its gas exports to customers different from those who had initially contracted the sale, Minister of State for Energy Saad al-Kaabi said on Tuesday.

* Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are close to concluding, Russia's top envoy to the negotiations said on Tuesday, the latest of several comments by delegates on the final phase of talks.

* There is no need for OPEC+ to expand its oil production increases, Nigeria's petroleum minister said on Tuesday, even as oil nears 100 USD a barrel, as a potential deal between Iran and world powers will increase supplies.

* Beijing detected four locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the city after reporting zero new community infections for more than two weeks.

* Indian vaccine maker Biological E. Ltd said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine received an emergency use approval in the country for use in children aged 12 to 18.

* Britain will remove the legal requirement to self isolate following a positive COVID-19 test from Feb. 24, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

* Bulgaria plans to lift the obligatory COVID-19 "green certificate" for entry to restaurants, shopping malls and other public venues from March 20 as infections ease, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said.

* The European Commission and the German government said on Monday they expect deliveries of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine Nuvaxovid to begin over the course of this week.

* Italy reported 24,408 COVID-19 related cases on Monday, against 42,081 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths rose to 201 from 141.

* Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada had to start healing after police cleared downtown Ottawa of a truckers' blockade that had paralysed the city for three weeks in a protest against restrictions.

* About 60 people were killed and dozens more wounded on Monday in an explosion at an informal gold mining site in southwest Burkina Faso, state television reported, citing local officials.

* Libya's interim prime minister on Monday announced a plan for elections in the summer as he seeks to stay in office despite a push by parliament to dislodge him in favour of a new government.

* Qatar is working to support Lebanon with its energy supply long-term using liquified natural gas (LNG), its minister of state for energy Saad al-Kaabi told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday.

* South Africa has changed its vaccination rules in an effort to encourage more people to get jabs, health authorities said.

* People infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant are nearly 75% less likely to develop serious illness or die than those who contract the Delta variant, real world data released on Monday by the Republic of Korea's health authorities showed.