World News in Brief: November 24

Wednesday, 2021-11-24 16:24:22
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The Czech Republic may make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for people over the age of 60 as well as for some professions including health and social care workers, under plans now being drawn up, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Tuesday.
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The World Health Organization said a further 700,000 people could die from COVID-19 in Europe by March, taking the total to above 2.2 million, as it urged people to get vaccinated and to have booster shots.

* China will release crude oil from its reserves according to its needs, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday, adding that the country was in close communication with oil-producing and oil-consuming countries.

* The top Russian military officer, Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, spoke by telephone on Tuesday with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia's Defence Ministry as saying.

* The leaders of three German parties will on Wednesday present their deal to form a coalition government that will see Social Democrat Olaf Scholz replace conservative Angela Merkel as chancellor, according to an invitation distributed by the Social Democrats.

* Pakistan's Cabinet on Tuesday granted permission to arch-rival India to use its land route to ship wheat aid to neighbouring Afghanistan where millions of people face hunger as a harsh winter sets in.

* The leader of Sweden's Centre party said the party would not vote 'yes' to the minority government's budget in a vote in parliament later on Wednesday, meaning an opposition finance bill is likely to pass.

* Russia has conducted military drills in the Black Sea involving around 10 aircraft and some ships, the Interfax news agency cited Russia's Black Sea fleet as saying on Wednesday.

* Ukraine launched an operation on Wednesday to strengthen its frontier, including military drills for anti-tank and airborne units. The Ukrainian state border service said the "special operation" at the border with Belarus involved troops of the National Guard, police, Armed Forces and other reserves.

* France on Tuesday urged all its nationals to leave Ethiopia without delay, in an advisory note to travellers. The foreign ministry also discouraged all travel to Ethiopia as well as any air transit via Addis Ababa.

* Top US infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said a vast majority of Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should receive a booster shot and that an additional dose could eventually become the country's standard for determining who is fully vaccinated.

* Republic of Korea reported a new daily record of 4,116 new cases as the country battles to contain the spike in serious cases requiring hospitalization.

* France recorded more than 30,000 new COVID-19 infections over 24 hours for the first time since August, as the pace of infection sped up despite new social distancing measures and a drive to boost vaccinations.

* Spain's Catalonia region plans to demand proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test for entry to bars, restaurants and stadiums, while other regions are pushing for similar restrictions to tame rising infection rates.

* The Netherlands started transporting COVID-19 patients across the border to Germany on Tuesday to ease pressure on Dutch hospitals.

* Germany should impose further restrictions to try to stop a fourth wave of coronavirus infections, outgoing Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Tuesday as more politicians backed the idea of compulsory vaccinations.

* The Czech Republic reported 25,864 new coronavirus cases for Tuesday, the highest daily tally recorded in the country of 10.7 million since the pandemic started, Health Ministry data showed on Wednesday.

* Sweden will begin gradually rolling out COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adult Swedes following the surge in cases elsewhere in Europe, government and health officials said on Wednesday.

* Hungary reported a record number of new daily COVID-19 cases at 12,637, bringing their total number to 1.045 million with 33,519 deaths, a government tally showed on Wednesday.

* The European Union's drug regulator said it has started reviewing US drugmaker Merck & Co Inc's experimental COVID-19 antiviral pill for adults following an application and could issue an opinion "within weeks."

* South Africa has asked Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to delay delivery of COVID-19 vaccines because it now has too much stock, health ministry officials said, as vaccine hesitancy slows an inoculation campaign.

* United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday he celebrates the advances made to implement Colombia's 2016 peace deal with the demobilized FARC rebels, but added efforts must be redoubled to sustain economic opportunities for ex-combatants.

* The Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen said on Wednesday it launched air strikes on Houthi drone sites in the capital Sanaa in the second such raid in as many days after earlier targeting the Iran-aligned movement's missile capabilities.

* Thousands of migrants in southern Mexico have accepted a government offer to quit a US-bound caravan in exchange for Mexican visas, officials said on Tuesday night.

* The United States Department of Defense late on Tuesday said it will establish a new group to investigate reports on the presence of UFOs in restricted airspace.

* Two people were killed and 16 injured on Tuesday in an explosion in the storage area at Serbian turbojet and rocket engine maker EDePro, the interior ministry said in a statement.