World News in Brief: January 18

Tuesday, 2022-01-18 18:11:38
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China is urging people to wear masks and gloves when opening mail, especially from abroad, after authorities suggested the first case of the Omicron coronavirus virus variant found in Beijing could have arrived via a package from Canada. (Illustrative Image/ Source: AFP)
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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to business leaders on Monday to support developing countries "in their hour of need" with access to COVID-19 vaccines, help to combat the climate crisis and reform of the global financial system.

* China will quickly roll out policy measures to boost domestic demand, Yuan Da, an official with the country's top economic planner, said on Tuesday.

* Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said on Tuesday he planned to impose a state of quasi-emergency, meaning stronger COVID-19 curbs on dining and gatherings, on 13 regions including Tokyo from Jan. 21 to Feb. 13.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin will brief his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Moscow's talks with NATO when he travels to Beijing next month, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

* Russia and Belarus will rehearse repelling an external attack when they hold joint military drills in Belarus next month, both sides said on Tuesday, at a time of acute tensions with the West over neighbouring Ukraine.

* Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said funding for Iran could lead to "terror on steroids" on Tuesday, in an apparent warning against world powers easing sanctions against Tehran as they seek a new nuclear deal.

* The Chinese municipality of Tianjin reported fewer COVID-19 cases as its outbreak showed early signs of easing, while the daily case count in the city of Anyang hit a record.

* Japan's western prefecture of Osaka will record about 6,000 new infections on Tuesday, the Kyodo news agency said, far surpassing the previous all-time high of 3,760 set on the weekend.

* Thailand will lower its COVID-19 alert level and is considering easing more restrictions to boost its economy, its health minister said on Tuesday, in response to a slower infection rate.

* Australia suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic on Tuesday as a fast-moving Omicron outbreak continued to push up hospitalisation rates to record levels, even as daily infections eased slightly.

* Romania reported 16,760 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, more than double on the day and the biggest single-day rise since October, as the Omicron coronavirus variant takes hold.

* The number of people with COVID-19 in French hospitals rose by 888 to 25,775, the health ministry said on Monday, the biggest one-day increase since early November 2020 - before the start of the country's vaccination campaign.

* Poland is in the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, its health minister said, adding that he expected the country to report over 20,000 daily cases on Tuesday and a peak of 60,000 in mid-February.

* Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic faces more immediate hurdles in his bid to overtake Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, with whom he is tied on 20 major titles, as he could be barred from the French Open as things stand.

* Asia's share markets were mostly higher even as global investor attention remains fixed on the prospect of US rate hikes in the next few months, after two years of unprecedented pandemic-induced policy easing.

* Frantic oil buying driven by supply outages and signs the Omicron variant won't be as disruptive as feared has pushed some crude grades to multi-year highs, traders said.

* Canada approved Pfizer's oral antiviral treatment for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in adults, but said global supply shortages meant only a few doses would be ready now.

* Israel will continue to offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot despite preliminary findings that it is not enough to prevent Omicron infections, a senior health official said on Tuesday, predicting contagions stoked by the variant will wane in a week.