World News in Brief: July 21

Wednesday, 2021-07-21 15:38:42
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People have meal at a restaurant in Singapore on July 20, 2021. Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 195 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total tally in the country to 63,440. The ministry also announced on Tuesday that Singapore will be further tightening community safe management measures by going back to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), which will take effect from July 22 through August 18. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The pandemic-postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics began on Wednesday with Japanese women's softball pitcher Yukiko Ueno getting Games competition underway in what the head of the World Health Organization said was needed as "a celebration of hope".

* India reported its highest death toll in a month on Wednesday - at nearly 4,000 - after its richest state reconciled its death count with 3,509 previously unreported fatalities, the health ministry said.

* Asian shares stumbled on Wednesday, while the dollar was firm as investors worried that a fast-spreading coronavirus variant could impede a global economic recovery.

* Scientists are working on a benchmark for COVID-19 vaccine efficacy that would allow drugmakers to conduct smaller, speedier human trials to get them to market and address a huge global vaccine shortage.

* Rescue crews are unlikely to find any more survivors among the rubble of villages devastated by floods in western Germany, a senior Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) official said on Wednesday. At least 170 people died in last week's flooding, Germany's worst natural disaster in more than half a century, and thousands went missing.

* Rescue operation is still underway in the city of Gongyi, as four deaths were reported in rain-triggered disasters. Three major landslides in the Yellow River basin have blocked road traffic, and rescuers have rushed to repair damaged highways, according to the municipal government of Gongyi, administered by Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province.

* Nearly 1.48 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in China as of Tuesday, the National Health Commission announced Wednesday.

* Cuba surpassed 2,000 total COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, after reporting 53 more deaths in the last 24 hours, to total 2,019, the Ministry of Public Health said, adding there were also 6,057 new infections, for a total of 294,449 cases.

* The Delta variant is the cause of more than 80% of new US cases, but the authorised vaccines remain more than 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths, said top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci in a Senate hearing.

* Australia's two largest states reported sharp increases in new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a blow to hopes that lockdown restrictions would be lifted with more than half the country's population under stay-at-home orders.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 2,203 to 3,748,613, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday. The reported death toll rose by 19 to 91,416, the tally showed.

* Pakistani President Arif Alvi on Wednesday urged the nation to follow guidelines identified by the government to prevent and control COVID-19 during the celebrations of the Eid al-Adha festival.

* Chile recorded 902 COVID-19 infections in the last day, the lowest figure since November 2020, bringing the total to 1,601,858 cases, Health Minister Enrique Paris said on Tuesday.

* Italian exports to the Chinese market in January-April of 2021 grew by some 55 percent from the same period of 2020, according to data from the Italy-China Foundation on Tuesday.

* Russia will reinforce its military base in Tajikistan with 17 infantry fighting vehicles, Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday citing the military, amid conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan.

* The US State Department said on Tuesday that Washington and Berlin had made progress on the contentious issue of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. The 1,230-km gas pipeline, expected to be completed next month, would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea.

* The Russian Defense Ministry announced Tuesday that it had successfully tested the country's state-of-the-art S-500 Prometheus system, which was developed to intercept aircraft and missiles.

* Israel and Japan have signed an agreement to conduct a scientific experiment on the moon, the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology said on Tuesday.

* Portugal signed on Tuesday four investment contracts with private companies that will contribute EUR141 million (US$166.23 million) in value to the country's economy, in addition to creating 500 jobs.

* Canada's British Columbia province declared a provincewide state of emergency against ongoing wildfires Tuesday afternoon. More than 3,000 wildfire personnel are currently battling blazes around the province. The state of emergency will take effect at midnight Tuesday and will last at least 14 days.

* Europe's drug regulator said it had started a real-time review of the vaccine developed by French drugmaker Sanofi and Britain's GlaxoSmithKline, the fifth shot currently under such a review.

* The US State Department has lowered its COVID 19-related travel advisory for India to "Level 3 – Reconsider Travel," the department said in a statement.

* Iran imposed a one-week lockdown in the capital and a nearby province as daily caseloads hit a record high, state television reported.

Reuters, Xinhua