World News in Brief: October 23

Saturday, 2021-10-23 17:32:43
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Sri Lanka's president ordered frontline workers and tourism staff to be given a third booster shot next month, part of a bid to reopen the travel industry and revive the economy.
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Saudi Arabia will sign agreements related to renewable energy and gas with other hydrocarbon producers in the region, the Saudi energy minister said on Saturday.

* NATO-member Turkey's defence minister said the forming of alliances outside of NATO would harm the organisation, according to comments released on Saturday, after Greece and France agreed a defence pact last month.

* Russia reported 1,075 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, its fifth straight daily record, as the authorities prepare to shut workplaces countrywide and lock down the capital. A record 37,678 new cases were also reported.

* The UK Health Security Agency designated a Delta subvariant called AY.4.2 as a "Variant Under Investigation", saying there was some evidence that it could be more transmissible than Delta.

* Americans can choose a booster shot that is different from their original inoculation but the recommendation is to stick with the vaccine they got first if it is available, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

* Japan's economic security strategy will focus on two pillars of "strategic autonomy and indispensability," a top ruling party official said on Saturday.

* Global stock indexes were mostly flat to higher on Friday, with financial shares providing some support to the S&P 500 index in early trading, while the US dollar slipped against a basket of currencies.

* Growth in euro zone business activity slowed this month as firms faced soaring costs due to supply-chain constraints, a survey showed.

* Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the US central bank should start the process of reducing its support of the economy by cutting back on its asset purchases, but should not yet touch the interest rate dial.

* The US envoy for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea arrived in the Republic of Korea on Saturday amid stalled denuclearisation talks and tension over Pyongyang's recent missile tests.

* Angela Merkel encouraged more women to get involved in German politics as she prepared to leave office after 16 years as the country's first female chancellor, saying it was still too male-dominated and needed to get with the times.

* Saudi Arabia's crown prince said on Saturday that the world's top oil exporter aims to reach zero-net emissions by 2060 and will more than double its annual target to reduce carbon emissions.

* Moldova and Russia remain divided over price and other details of a new gas deal, Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita said on Friday, after expiry of their former pact prompted Chisinau to declare a state of emergency over energy shortages.

* Democrats are closing in on a deal on President Joe Biden's social and climate-change agenda by narrowing their differences over healthcare and other issues, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after a White House meeting on Friday.

* New Zealand reported 104 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, including the first community case of the virus in the country's South Island in nearly a year, health officials said.

* Germany recorded the highest incidence of coronavirus infections since mid-May on Saturday, reaching the threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days that used to be the yardstick for imposing a strict lockdown.

* The Romanian government will re-introduce a night curfew and make health passes mandatory for entry to most public venues from Monday, as well as sending school children on vacation for two weeks, as it seeks to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

* The US military killed senior al Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar in a drone strike in Syria on Friday, a US Central Command spokesman said.

* Brazil has had 14,502 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 460 deaths from COVID-19, the health ministry said on Friday.

* Mexico registered 284 more confirmed coronavirus deaths and 4,653 new cases, bringing the overall death toll to 285,953 and the total number of cases to 3,777,209, the Health Ministry said on Friday.

* Ecuador will scrap monthly price increases on fuels and will instead fix prices for gasoline extra and diesel, President Guillermo Lasso said on Friday.

* Norway will hold off giving children aged 12-15 a second dose of a vaccine until it has gathered more research, partly due to a rare side effect involving inflammation of the heart.

* Canada has scrapped an official advisory urging its citizens to shun non-essential foreign travel, given the successful campaign to inoculate people against COVID-19.

* Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart's US pharmacies started administering booster shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, in addition to the previously authorized Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

* Mass Friday prayers resumed in Iran's capital Tehran after a 20-month hiatus, state TV reported.

* Two studies in major medical journals added to evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are safe before and during pregnancy.

* The vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech showed 90.7% efficacy in a clinical trial of children aged 5-11.

* Tunisia is imposing COVID-19 vaccine passes on Tunisians and all foreign visitors, a presidential decree showed on Friday.

* Nigeria's Borno state, the epicentre of an ongoing Islamist insurgency, will shut all camps that are holding thousands of internally displaced persons by the end of the year, its governor said on Friday, citing improved security in the state.