World News in Brief: January 27

Russia said on Thursday the United States had shown it was not willing to address Moscow's main security concerns, set out during their standoff over Ukraine, but that both sides had an interest in continuing dialogue.

The BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant, which is dominant in Denmark, appears more contagious than the more common BA.1 sub-lineage, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said.
The BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant, which is dominant in Denmark, appears more contagious than the more common BA.1 sub-lineage, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said.

* The United States should take immediate action to correct wrongdoing in trade practices against China, China's commerce ministry said on Thursday, after the World Trade Organization ruling that let China impose tariffs on US goods.

* Italy's centre-left bloc, comprising the Democratic Party, the 5-Star Movement and the LEU party, will cast a blank ballot on Thursday in the fourth round of the presidential election, a joint statement said.

* The Philippine economy expanded more quickly than expected in 2021, and looks set to accelerate further this year, but the impact of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases suggests the central bank is unlikely to start withdrawing policy support for now.

* Risk-averse Singapore is trying to balance its approach to living with COVID - aiming to protect people in the densely populated island from the disease while reopening its economy and borders to maintain its reputation as a hub for capital and talent.

* An oil spill caused by a leak from an undersea pipeline 20 km (12.4 miles) off Thailand's eastern coast will take at least five more days to clear, its navy said on Thursday.

* China reported 63 new COVID-19 cases on the mainland on Jan. 26, up from 44 cases a day earlier, the national health authority said.

* Russia's daily COVID-19 cases surged to 88,816 on Thursday, a new record high for the seventh consecutive day as the Omicron variant was identified in new regions, officials said.

* German lawmakers agonised over whether to impose compulsory COVID-19 shots, as new record daily infections and the country's stuttering vaccination campaign forced them into an ethical and constitutional dilemma.

* Italy will ease restrictions for all visitors from European Union countries starting from Feb.1.

* New cases of COVID-19 in the Americas in the past week have been the highest since the pandemic began and the fast-spreading Omicron variant has clearly become the predominant version of the virus, the Pan American Health Organization said.

* The United States has shipped 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as part of its earlier pledge to donate about 1.2 billion doses to low-income countries, the White House said.

* Australia reported fewer COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, a day after recording a pandemic high, while hospital cases remained steady, raising hopes the country's worst outbreak may have peaked.

* Israel broadened eligibility for a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to include adults under 60 with underlying medical conditions, their caretakers, and others over 18 at significant risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

* The number of cars made in Britain fell last year to the lowest since 1956, reflecting a major shortage of semiconductors used for electronic components, broader COVID disruptions and the closure of a Honda factory.

* The number of new COVID-19 infections in Germany exceeded 200,000 in a day for the first time on Thursday, hitting staffing at companies including Lufthansa Cargo.

* Moderna Inc said it had started a mid-stage study, testing a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine specifically designed to target the Omicron variant.

* COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA technology do not affect fertility outcomes during in-vitro fertilization, researchers have found.

* The world's first medical trial authorised to deliberately expose participants to the coronavirus is seeking more volunteers as it steps up efforts to help develop better vaccines.

* Britain's government said on Thursday it would tighten rules for some people claiming unemployment benefits, at a time when many sectors are reporting record labour shortages.

* Jordanian soldiers killed 27 armed smugglers on Thursday as they tried to cross the border from Syria during a dawn snowstorm with a large quantity of amphetamines, an army spokesman said.

* Irish consumer sentiment in January recovered much of the loss it suffered in December in the face of a surge in the highly contagious Omicron variant, a survey showed, with authors forecasting a further improvement next month.

* Poland reported a record 57,659 new daily COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the health ministry said, as the Omicron variant takes hold.