World News in Brief: May 15

Friday, 2020-05-15 15:01:29
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Customers queue up to have their haircut outside a hairdressing salon as they reopen for business amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore May 12, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
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World Trade Organization head Roberto Azevedo will step down a year earlier than planned in August, he said on Thursday (May 14), in a surprise move as the trade body struggles to rein in global tensions and coordinate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 62-year-old Brazilian has been director-general since 2013 and is serving a second term that was due to conclude at the end of August 2021.

* The risk of a COVID-19 resurgence in China from so-called imported infections is controllable, an official of the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Friday (May 15). China reported four new coronavirus cases on the mainland on May 14, all of them locally transmitted. China has banned most foreigners from entering its borders since late March as the pandemic spread globally.

* Russia on Friday reported 10,598 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case tally to 262,843. Russia's coronavirus taskforce said 113 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll from the virus to 2,418.

* Large parts of Japan marked the first day out of a state of emergency on Friday while Tokyo's governor asked residents to prepare for the "new normal" as restrictions stay in place in the capital and major cities. Nationwide, Japan has reported 16,203 cases of the coronavirus and 713 deaths, according to public broadcaster NHK. The figures are much lower than in most industrialized nations, but the pandemic cost Tokyo its chance to host the Summer Olympics this year.

* Restaurants, cafes and bars in Australia's most populous state were reopening on Friday after a two-month shutdown under coronavirus lockdown measures, boosting the federal government's bid to get people back in work and the economy back on track. Australia has recorded about 7,000 COVID-19 cases, including 98 deaths, significantly below the levels reported in North America and Europe.

* The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Friday reported 27 new cases as of midnight on Thursday, taking the total to 11,018. ROK's death toll remained unchanged at 260.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 913 to 173,152, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday. The reported death toll rose by 101 to 7,824, the tally showed.

* Singapore's health ministry said on Friday it had confirmed 793 more coronavirus cases, taking the city state's tally of infections to 26,891.

* Thailand reported seven new coronavirus cases on Friday, while the number of deaths remained unchanged at 56. Thailand has confirmed a total of 3,025 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started in January and earlier in the week reported zero new daily cases for the first time in two months.

* The health ministers of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, will get together by video conference on Friday to discuss ways to work together in the global campaign against the novel coronavirus, ROK officials said. The meeting is the first between top health officials of the East Asian neighbours since the outbreak emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

* Brazil and Mexico on Thursday reported a record one-day rise in new coronavirus cases, just as leaders of both countries intensified attempts to reopen their economies even as the spread of the virus in Latin America is seemingly gathering pace. Brazil, the hardest-hit country in Latin America, registered a daily record of 13,944 new cases, bringing its total to 202,918 confirmed cases of the virus and 13,933 deaths since the outbreak began, according to health ministry data.

* Mexico, the second most impacted nation in the region, reported 2,409 new infections on Thursday, to bring its total confirmed coronavirus cases to 42,595. An additional 257 coronavirus deaths brought total fatalities to 4,477.

* The Slovenian government late on Thursday called an official end to its coronavirus epidemic, becoming the first European country to do so, after authorities confirmed less than seven new coronavirus cases each day for the past two weeks. The country of 2 million people, which borders Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, has so far reported 1,464 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths. It declared an epidemic on March 12.

* Brazil registered a daily record 13,944 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday and 844 additional deaths, according to health ministry data. Brazil has now tallied 202,918 confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak began and 13,933 deaths.

* The United States on Thursday blamed Islamic State militants -- not the Taliban -- for a gruesome hospital attack in Afghanistan this week that killed two newborn babies, and it renewed calls for Afghans to embrace a troubled peace push with the Taliban insurgency.

* Qatar's interior ministry announced on Thursday that wearing masks will be mandatory to go outside starting Sunday, and those who do not comply will be fined up to QAR 200,000 (US$53,000). Violators could also be jailed up to three years, or either of those punishments, according to a statement on the ministry's Twitter account. Qatar reported 1,733 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours for a total of 28,272 cases and a total of 14 deaths.