World News in Brief: November 27

Saturday, 2021-11-27 16:58:38
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Ireland will make booster shots available to all adults.
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern," saying it may spread more quickly than other forms.

* India restarted exports of vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX for the first time since April, and producer Serum Institute of India forecast a substantial increase in supplies from early next year.

* Top US advisor Anthony Fauci said a ban on flights from southern Africa was a possibility and the country was rushing to gather data on the new variant.

* South Africa's rand sank to its lowest since October 2020 and its president will convene a coronavirus council on Sunday following the detection of the new potentially vaccine-resistant variant in the country.

* Novavax said it had started working on a version of its COVID-19 vaccine to target the variant detected in South Africa and would have the shot ready for testing and manufacturing in the next few weeks.

* AstraZeneca said it was examining the impact of a new coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly in South Africa on its vaccine and its antibody cocktail, adding it was hopeful its combination drug would retain efficacy.

* Merck said updated data from its study of its experimental COVID-19 pill showed the drug was significantly less effective in cutting hospitalizations and deaths than previously reported.

* BioNTech said it expects more data on a worrying new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa within two weeks to help determine whether its vaccine produced with partner Pfizer Inc would have to be reworked.

* China amended its tobacco monopoly law on Friday to include e-cigarettes, stepping up regulation of the fast-growing vaping industry in the world's largest tobacco market. The cabinet order, published on the Chinese government's website and signed off by Premier Li Keqiang, comes into effect immediately.

* US President Joe Biden called on nations meeting at the World Trade Organization next week to agree to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines in the wake of the discovery of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa.

* Thailand said on Saturday it would ban the entry of people travelling from eight African countries it designated as high-risk for the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

* Dutch health authorities said that 61 people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for COVID-19, and they were conducting further testing early Saturday to see if any of the infections are with the recently discovered Omicron coronavirus variant.

* European Union states have agreed to suspend travel from southern Africa after the detection of a new COVID-19 variant, the presidency of the EU said.

* The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed at talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to work towards demarcating the border between their two countries after a war that killed at least 6,500 people last year.

* Iran wants the verifiable lifting of economic sanctions it is under, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Friday, three days before nuclear talks resume in Vienna.

* French President Emmanuel Macron will go on an official trip to the Gulf region, visiting Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between Dec. 3 and 4, the Elysee presidential office said on Friday.

* OPEC+ is monitoring developments around the new coronavirus variant, sources said on Friday, with some expressing concern that it may worsen the oil market outlook less than a week before a meeting to set policy.

* France is willing to discuss autonomy for the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe if it is in the interests of the people who live there, government minister Sebastien Lecornu said.

* Japan will tighten border controls for the southern African nations of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, requiring a 10-day quarantine for any entrants, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, after a new coronavirus variant was detected in South Africa.

* The Dutch government ordered further restrictions including a nighttime closure of bars, restaurants and most stores to stem a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country's healthcare system.

* US President Joe Biden said his administration was not considering new vaccine mandates following the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa, which led to travel bans from that country and seven other nations.

* The United States will bar entry to most travelers from eight southern African countries beginning next week over concerns about a new coronavirus variant found in South Africa, President Joe Biden said.

* Canada is closing its borders to foreign travelers who have recently been to seven southern African nations to help stop the spread of a newly identified variant of COVID-19, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters.

* Egypt suspends direct flights to and from South Africa due to concerns about a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, the state news agency (MENA) reported.

* Iran has banned the entry of travelers from South Africa and five neighbouring countries after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant in the region, a top Iranian epidemiology official said.

* The United Arab Emirates has suspended entry for travellers from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique starting from Nov. 29 due to concerns about a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, the state news agency reported.

* The Czech Republic reported 20,315 new coronavirus cases for Friday, the first week-on-week drop in the daily tally in two months, although its hospitals were still filling and the government toughened restrictions.

* Nigeria has lifted restrictions on Emirates airline flights, the aviation minister said on Friday.

Reuters