World News in Brief: September 2

Thailand's health ministry said on Thursday that its COVID-19 vaccine regimen of China's Sinovac followed by British-developed AstraZeneca was safe and successfully boosted immunity among its first 1.5 million recipients.

Twelve million French children headed back to school on Thursday, wearing facemasks, using sanitizer at the entrance and standing distanced from each other in the yard under strict government rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Twelve million French children headed back to school on Thursday, wearing facemasks, using sanitizer at the entrance and standing distanced from each other in the yard under strict government rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

* The United States must "create a good atmosphere of co-operation" on climate change, Chinese vice premier Han Zheng urged visiting US climate envoy John Kerry on Thursday during a meeting via video link, state news agency Xinhua said.

* Japan announced on Thursday a list of initiatives it will focus on to promote green technology and digitalisation, as part of efforts to boost the economy's long-term growth.

* The Kremlin said on Thursday that US military assistance to Ukraine could make Kyiv behave unpredictably and dangerously in the conflict in its east, and expressed regret at a US-Ukrainian friendship it said was motivated by opposition to Russia.

* US President Joe Biden declared an emergency in California and ordered federal assistance to boost local responders' efforts to battle the Caldor fire, the White House said on Wednesday.

* OPEC and its allies on Wednesday agreed to stick to their existing policy of gradual oil output increases, despite revising its 2022 demand outlook upwards and ongoing US pressure to raise production more quickly.

* The European Union will need to engage with the Taliban but it will not rush into formally recognising the Islamist militant group as the new rulers of Afghanistan, a senior European Union official said on Wednesday.

* Israel said on Wednesday that a US plan to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem that has traditionally been a base for diplomatic outreach to Palestinians is a "bad idea" and could destabilise Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's new government.

* Israel has opened a new shipping port along its Mediterranean coast that will bring much needed competition to a sector plagued by delays and boost the country's standing as a regional trade hub.

* Afghanistan's Taliban rulers were preparing on Thursday to unveil their new government as the economy teetered on the edge of collapse more than two weeks after the Islamist militia captured Kabul and brought a chaotic end to 20 years of war.

* An intense rain storm on Wednesday wreaked havoc in several parts of Spain, causing severe flooding in some towns, leaving thousands of people without electricity and forcing the closure of some roads and rail links.

* The Israeli military said on Thursday it was investigating the fatal shooting of a Palestinian civilian in the occupied West Bank, who residents said was killed by soldiers while returning from work in Israel.

* Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co Inc announced on Wednesday new trials of their experimental oral antiviral drugs for COVID-19 as the race to develop an easy-to-administer treatment for the potentially fatal illness heats up.

* India reported the biggest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases in two months on Thursday, as the government worries about the virus spreading from the most-affected Kerala state, schools reopening, and the start of the festival season.

* The United States has administered a third dose of either Pfizer Inc-BioNTech or Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccines to over 1 million people since Aug. 13, when regulators authorized an additional shot for immunocompromised people.

* Brazil recorded 27,345 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 737 deaths from COVID-19, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

* Britain will give severely immunosuppressed people a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to increase their chances of generating a better immune response, although officials stressed the offer was separate from any broader booster vaccine programme.

* Italy reported 69 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, down from 75 the previous day, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 6,503 from 5,498, the health ministry said.

* Republic of Korean frontline health workers on Thursday dropped plans to strike after they reached an agreement with the government on their demand for increased staffing and better work conditions during last-ditch negotiations overnight.

* Spain said on Wednesday 70% of its population had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, fulfilling a goal set by the government for August, while the incidence rate kept the decreasing tendency of the past month after a big surge.

* Mexico on Wednesday reported 17,337 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as 1,177 more deaths, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 3,369,747 and the death toll to 260,503, according to health ministry data.