World News in Brief: January 10

Monday, 2022-01-10 21:57:38
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Some countries are already looking to a fourth vaccine dose to help contend with a spike in COVID-19 cases driven by Omicron, but early signs suggest repeat vaccinations may be a hard sell as beleaguered populations enter their third pandemic year.
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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's fourth government was sworn in on Monday, a record 299 days after the last election and a year after his previous administration was forced to resign, with the coronavirus crisis looming over a big spending push.

* China is willing to increase "law enforcement and security" cooperation with neighbouring Kazakhstan and help oppose interference by "external forces", China's foreign minister said on Monday, after violent protests in the Central Asian country.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory on Monday in defending Kazakhstan from what he described as a foreign-backed terrorist uprising, and promised leaders of other ex-Soviet states that a Moscow-led alliance would protect them too.

* NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that security negotiations between Russia and the West may not resolve all issues this week but could provide a pathway to avoid conflict.

* Negotiations between Russia and the United States aimed at addressing a crisis in Ukraine began in the Swiss city of Geneva on Monday after days of pessimistic statements on both sides.

* Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has expressed his solidarity with Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in a call on Monday, Hungary's foreign minister said on his official Facebook page.

* Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will visit China by the end of the week to discuss the 25-year strategic agreement signed by the two countries, the spokesman of the foreign ministry told a news conference in Tehran on Monday.

* Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that Israel would not be bound by any nuclear deal with Iran and would continue to consider itself free to act "with no constraints" against its arch-foe if necessary.

* Levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere hit record highs in 2021, which was one of the world's hottest years ever and underlined the need for change, the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said.

* The Taliban administration's acting foreign minister travelled to Iran to meet with his Iranian counterpart, who called for Afghan financial assets blocked since the Taliban takeover to be released for humanitarian purposes.

* The Chinese city of Tianjin tightened exit controls and is requiring residents to obtain approval from employers or community authorities before leaving town to block the spread of Omicron.

* India said only 5%-10% of active COVID-19 patients have needed hospitalisation this time around compared with 20%-23% in the wave that peaked in May.

* The Philippines reported 33,169 new cases, marking the third straight day of record-high infections.

* Europe's healthcare systems are being strained once again by the rapid spread of Omicron over the holiday period, with large numbers of key staff ill or self-isolating and experts predicting the peak of infections has yet to come.

* Britain's prime minister is looking at cutting isolation periods to five days, while the country put its biggest private health firms on high alert to deliver crucial treatments such as cancer surgery should Omicron overwhelm public hospitals.

* Spain's prime minister said it may be time to track the pandemic differently as COVID-19 has become less lethal.

* Mexico hit a record for daily infections over the weekend and its official death toll rose to 300,334 on Sunday, while Brazil's climbed to 619,981.

* Sweden will introduce more measures to stem a rising number of COVID cases that have placed a greater burden on the healthcare system, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Monday.

* Nepal banned large public gatherings and closed schools across the Himalayan nation for nearly three weeks after a spike in coronavirus cases, officials said on Monday.

* World tennis number one Novak Djokovic was released from immigration detention after winning a court challenge to remain in Australia to pursue his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title as cases in the country passed 1 million.

* Cape Verde's soccer team beat 10-man Ethiopia on the opening day of the Africa Cup of Nations after starting the match with their coach in quarantine, nine players self-isolating and two injured.

* High levels of T-cells from common cold coronaviruses can provide protection against COVID-19, a study found, which could inform approaches for second-generation vaccines.

* People self-testing should swab their throat as well as their nose when using rapid antigen kits to increase the chances of detecting the Omicron variant, a top Israeli health official said.

* Stock markets struggled on Monday as US Treasury yields reached a new two-year high and investors fretted about the prospect of rising interest rates and a surge in COVID-19 infections.

* Oil lost more ground as rapidly climbing cases of the Omicron variant hit economic activity, although losses were limited by supply disruptions in Kazakhstan and Libya.

* The European Union's drug regulator said on Monday it could issue "within weeks" a decision on whether to approve the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, after the US drugmaker submitted an application seeking authorisation.

* The Saudi Export and Import Bank has allocated 200 mln USD to finance Tunisian imports of Saudi oil derivatives, the Economy Ministry said on Monday. It added that an agreement was signed in Tunisia.