World News in Brief: September 20

Monday, 2021-09-20 20:37:34
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India conducted the lowest number of daily COVID-19 tests since mid-August on Sunday, but the health ministry urged local governments not to let their guard down during the September to November festival season.
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Indonesia on Monday reported 1,932 new daily coronavirus infections, the lowest since August 2020.

* India will resume exports of COVID-19 vaccines from the next quarter, prioritising neighbouring countries first, the health minister said.

* Thailand has increased the ceiling of its public debt-to-gross domestic product ratio to 70% from 60%, allowing the government to raise more funds to help a struggling economy.

* Australian Minister for Trade Dan Tehan said on Monday he will seek a meeting with his French counterpart to ease tension over Australia's decision to scrap a US$40 billion submarine deal.

* The Kremlin confirmed on Monday that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would visit Russia for talks soon to discuss issues including the conflict in Syria.

* European Union foreign ministers will on Monday discuss Australia's scrapping of a US$40 billion submarine order with France, a move that has enraged Paris and cast a shadow over free trade talks between the EU and Australia.

* Ukraine began joint military exercises with US and other NATO troops on Monday, at a time when neighbouring Russia and Belarus have been holding large-scale drills.

* Hungary's government will refund US$2 billion of income tax to families in early 2022 and also plans a big hike in the minimum wage, right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the opening session of parliament on Monday, setting the stage for next year's election.

* Pfizer and BioNTech said on Monday their COVID-19 vaccine induced a robust immune response in 5- to 11- year-olds, and they plan to ask for authorization to use the shot in children in that age range in the United States, Europe and elsewhere as soon as possible.

* Brazil registered 244 COVID-19 deaths on Sunday and 9,458 additional cases, while Mexico reported 4,983 new confirmed cases and 200 deaths.

* US regulators are expected to authorize a third booster shot of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for older and some high-risk Americans early this week in time for the government to roll them out by Friday as hoped.

* The German government is not giving a target date for lifting coronavirus-related social distancing regulations since there is no certainty about how the pandemic would develop this winter, a spokesman said.

* New Zealand eased coronavirus curbs slightly in its largest city of Auckland, as the government expressed confidence that there was no widespread regional transmission of the Delta variant.

* The president of Costa Rica has warned that developing countries are at risk of sliding into instability without more pandemic aid from richer nations and the IMF, the Financial Times reported.

* Iran's new government has approved the vaccine developed by US firm Johnson & Johnson, a senior official said, as the Islamic Republic faces a fifth wave of infections.

* Police in Dubai have built up a special unit of 38 sniffer dogs that can detect COVID-19 from human sweat samples with 92% accuracy, the supervisor of the training programme told Reuters.

* The United Arab Emirates central bank sees increased risks of illicit financial flows emerging from the pandemic, including money-laundering and terrorism financing, it said in a report.

* Ukraine has extended a state of emergency that allows regional authorities to impose COVID-19 restrictions until the end of 2021 to tackle a surge in infections, the government said on Monday.

* Sweden's centre-left government said on Monday it would boost welfare spending by SEK23 billion (US$2.6 billion) next year in a budget aimed at reducing social inequality and shifting to a more sustainable economy after the pandemic. Sweden has bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic quicker than most countries in Europe.

* Pakistan's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 7.25% on Monday, the first move after six consecutive decisions to keep rates on hold since last year.

* The first world fair to be held in the Middle East, Expo 2020 Dubai, opens its doors to exhibitors from almost 200 countries on Oct. 1 after being delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

* Norway will allow state-controlled Equinor and its partners to increase gas exports from two offshore fields for the next 12 months amid concerns over a shortage of European gas supplies that have sent prices soaring.

Reuters