World News in Brief: October 4

Monday, 2021-10-04 17:51:17
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Malaysia is in talks to procure an experimental antiviral pill developed by Merck & Co for COVID-19 treatment.
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The two Koreas on Monday restored their hotlines that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea severed months ago, with Pyongyang urging Seoul to step up efforts to improve relations after criticising what it called double standards over weapons development.

* Russia said on Monday it had successfully test launched a Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile from a submarine for the first time, a weapon President Vladimir Putin has lauded as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems.

* Germany's centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) said on Sunday they were ready to move to three-way coalition talks with the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), but the two smaller parties kept open the option of an alternative tie-up with the conservatives.

* Poland plans to strengthen its border with a system of motion sensors and cameras, modelling it on the Greek border with Turkey, its interior minister said in comments published on Monday, as it faces a large migrant influx from Belarus.

* Russia declared an unnamed North Macedonian diplomat persona non grata on Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, in response to what it said was the unjustified expulsion of a Russian diplomat by Skopje in August.

* Germany rejects Iran's demands for the United States to release frozen Iranian assets as a condition for nuclear talks to resume, Germany's foreign ministry said on Monday.

* Turkey sent a Greek Cypriot research vessel away from what it says is its continental shelf in the Mediterranean on Sunday after it entered the area without permission, Turkey's Defence Ministry said, in a sign of renewed tensions.

* China’s Beijing will hold its city-wide marathon on Oct. 31, resuming the annual race after suspending it last year due to COVID-19, state media Xinhua said.

* Indonesia will reopen its tourist island Bali for some international travellers, including those from China, New Zealand, and Japan, among others, from Oct. 14, senior cabinet minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Monday.

* Thailand's government is in talks with US drugmaker Merck & Co to purchase 200,000 courses of the company's experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 treatment, a Thai official said on Monday.

* Singapore is reviewing how to simplify its pandemic protocols that many in the city-state find over complex, including whether to continue testing those who show no symptoms of the disease.

* Russia's health minister said the country's Sputnik V vaccine was closer to getting approval from the World Health Organization.

* As New York, San Francisco and a few other US cities and counties require restaurants to check proof of vaccination to dine indoors, some fast-food chains are simply shutting their seating areas altogether.

* Asian shares dipped on Monday as concerns about China's property sector and inflation worries offset upbeat US data and positive news on new drugs to fight the coronavirus.

* Demand for coal and natural gas has exceeded pre-pandemic highs with oil not far behind, dealing a setback to hopes the pandemic would spur a faster transition to clean energy from fossil fuels.

* A patchwork of campaigns for an extra shot are being rolled out across the European Union even before the region's drug watchdog rules on whether they are safe and effective.

* Italy's health ministry has given its green light for people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu shot at the same time.

* New Zealand on Monday abandoned its long-standing strategy of eliminating coronavirus amid a persistent Delta outbreak, and will instead look to live with the virus and control its spread as its vaccination rate rises.

* Israel on Sunday piled pressure on its vaccinated citizens to get a booster shot by making only those who received their third dose eligible for a "green pass" allowing entry to restaurants, gyms and many other venues.

* An advisory panel of experts to the US drug regulator will hold meetings this month to review data on Pfizer Inc's vaccine in young children, and whether to clear booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines.

* Canadian health officials said on Friday data suggests reported cases of rare heart inflammation were relatively higher after Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine compared with the Pfizer/BioNTech shots.

* Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Sunday ordered his government to reduce tax on overall income amid soaring food prices in the drought-hit North African country, the presidency said.

* A river of red-hot lava gushing from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on Spain's La Palma thickened on Monday, after the north side of the crater collapsed the previous night causing spectacular explosions, but authorities ruled out further evacuations.