World News in Brief: May 21

Thursday, 2020-05-21 15:32:01
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(Illustrative image). US scientists work tirelessly on coronavirus vaccines.
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The US government has ordered 300 million doses of a potential COVID-19 virus being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and hopes first doses can be made available by October, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday (May 21).

* Rescue teams searched for survivors in eastern India and Bangladesh a day after the most powerful cyclone in over a decade devastated coastal villages, destroying mud houses, ripping out electricity poles and washing away bridges. The full extent of the casualties and damage to property inflicted by Cyclone Amphan would only be known once communications were restored, officials said, but at least a dozen people died in the Indian state of West Bengal and eight in neighbouring Bangladesh.

* An earthquake of magnitude 6.2 struck in the central Mediterranean Sea region early on Thursday, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC). The epicentre of the quake, about 240 km (149 miles) south-west of Greece's Methoni region, was at a depth of 10 km, EMSC said.

* China recorded two new coronavirus cases for May 20, down from five a day earlier, the National Health Commission (NHC) reported on Thursday. The total number of COVID-19 infections in China to date now stands at 82,967. The death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday (May 20) reported 1,528,235 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 23,405 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,324 to 91,664.

* Russia's official coronavirus death toll rose to 3,099 on Thursday after officials said 127 people had died in the last 24 hours. Russia's authorities reported 8,849 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing the nationwide case tally to 317,554.

* The Philippines' health ministry on Thursday reported four new coronavirus deaths and 213 additional confirmed cases. In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths because of the pandemic had increased to 846, while infections had risen to 13,434. But 68 more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,000.

* Thailand on Thursday reported three new coronavirus infections and no new deaths, bringing the total to 3,037 confirmed cases and 56 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 745 to 176,752, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 57 to 8,147, the tally showed.

* Japan will lift its state of emergency in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo on Thursday as the number of new coronavirus infections drops, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Thursday, with the country eager to revive its battered economy.

* British healthcare workers will on Thursday begin taking part in a University of Oxford-led international trial of two anti-malarial drugs to see if they can prevent COVID-19, including one US President Donald Trump says he has been taking. The 'COPCOV' study will involve more than 40,000 frontline healthcare workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America to determine if chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in preventing the novel coronavirus.

* Australian state and territory leaders bickered on Thursday over whether to reopen internal borders, a major step to rejuvenating the country's AUD80 billion (US$50 billion) domestic tourism industry, as part of measures to ease coronavirus restrictions. Australia has reported just over 7,000 COVID-19 infections, including 100 deaths, well below figures reported by other developed countries.

* Rising floodwaters unleashed by two dam failures submerged parts of the central Michigan town of Midland on Wednesday, displacing thousands of residents and spreading into a Dow Chemical Co plant in the riverfront city.

* US President Donald Trump raised US$16.9 million in April for his re-election campaign, ending the month with US$107.7 million in cash, according to a disclosure filed on Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. The sum raised during April marks an increase from March when Trump's campaign committee raised US$13.6 million.

* COVID-19 infections in Pakistan trended higher in recent days and were approaching 50,000, official data showed, with total deaths crossing 1,000, as the government remained unsure over the consequences of its decision to end the nation's lockdown.

* Iran dismissed on Thursday new US sanctions on several Iranian officials, saying they were a sign of the complete inefficiency of Washington's previous sanctions on the Islamic Republic, state television reported. The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on several Iranian authorities, including the interior minister, accusing them of engaging in serious cases of human rights abuse.

* Lebanon is at risk of a major food crisis and many Lebanese may soon find it hard to afford bread because of an acute financial crunch and the fall-out of COVID-19, the prime minister warned.

* Mexico's health ministry on Wednesday registered 2,248 new coronavirus infections and an additional 424 fatalities, a record one-day death toll since the start of the pandemic. The new infections brought confirmed coronavirus cases to 56,594 and 6,090 deaths in total, according to the official tally.

* Brazil's coronavirus outbreak worsened on Wednesday and the South American nation could soon have the second-highest number of cases in the world as the Health Ministry reported 888 new deaths and nearly 20,000 new infections in a single day. Brazil's confirmed case tally now stands at 291,579, according to the Health Ministry. Brazil might soon trail only the United States in the number of coronavirus cases. Brazil's coronavirus death toll is 18,859.

* Peru's number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 100,000, the Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday. There are 104,020 confirmed cases in the South American country, which has been under nationwide lockdown since March, and the death toll rose to 3,024, the ministry said.