World News in Brief: July 31

Friday, 2020-07-31 15:00:53
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People wearing masks walk in the street in Ankara, Turkey on July 30, 2020. Turkey confirmed 967 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the total infections to 229,891, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. (Photo: Xinhua)
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A COVID-19 candidate vaccine developed in South Australia (SA) has cleared the first phase of testing, according to local media's report. The Australian reported on Friday (July 31) that the vaccine developed by Nikolai Petrovsky from Flinders University is the first Australian candidate to pass phase one trials after it was found to be safe and generated an immune response in human subjects.

* The Philippine health ministry on Friday confirmed 4,063 novel coronavirus infections, reporting the highest daily case increase in Southeast Asia for a second straight day. In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed infections have risen to 93,354, while deaths increased by 40 to 2,023. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday maintained coronavirus restrictions in the capital and some provinces for another two weeks to try to control the spread of the virus.

* Indonesia reported on Friday 2,040 new coronavirus infections and 73 additional deaths, according to data published on the country's COVID-19 task force website. This brought Indonesia's total number of confirmed infections to 108,376 and deaths to 5,131.

* Chinese health authority said Friday that it received reports of 127 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Thursday, 123 of which were domestically transmitted. As of Thursday, the overall confirmed cases on the mainland had reached 84,292, including 684 patients who were still being treated, with 41 in severe condition. Altogether 78,974 people had been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 had died of the disease.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday reported 4,405,932 cases of the novel coronavirus, an increase of 65,935 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,417 to 150,283.

* Brazil on Thursday reported a daily increase of 1,129 in COVID-19 deaths, taking the national death toll to 91,263. Health authorities also detected 57,837 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total caseload to 2,610,102. Brazil is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, second only to the United States, both in terms of caseload and death toll.

* India recorded the highest ever single-day spike of 55,078 of fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the total tally to 1,638,870, according to the federal health ministry's latest data. This is the second consecutive day when fresh COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 50,000. As many as 779 people died during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the total deaths to 35,747, said the ministry's data. India is currently the third most COVID-affected country in the world, after the United States and Brazil, and the worst-affected in Asia.

* Russia has registered 5,482 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 839,981, the country's COVID-19 response center said in a statement Friday. Meanwhile, 161 new deaths were reported, taking the nationwide count to 13,963, according to the statement. Moscow, the country's worst-hit region, reported 695 newly confirmed cases, taking its total number of infections to 241,359, the response center said. According to the statement, 638,410 people have recovered so far, including 8,755 over the past day.

* Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike confirmed 463 new COVID-19 infections in the capital on Friday, with the figure marking a new record daily increase, eclipsing the previous single-day record of 367 on Thursday. The cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in the capital now stands at 12,691, more than 50 percent of which were confirmed this month, as fears rise about the aggressive pace of the virus' continued spread in the capital. Nationwide, the total number of cases increased to 35,461, including around 700 from a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February. The death toll from the virus stands at 1,020.

* Mexico's Health Ministry said Thursday that 639 deaths related to COVID-19 were reported during the past 24 hours, taking the national toll from the pandemic to 46,000. The country that shares northern border with the United States, the world's hardest-hit country, has so far reported a total of 416,179 cases, up 7,730 than the previous day. Mexico has the fourth highest death tally worldwide, following the United States, Brazil and Britain.

* Argentine President Alberto Fernandez on Thursday said he was "very concerned" about the exponential rise in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections around the country, and pledged to firmly enforce social distancing measures in place since March. Since detecting its first COVID-19 case on March 3, Argentina has reported 178,996 cases, of which 80,596 have recovered, and 3,311 deaths.

* The number of coronavirus infections is on the rise in three-quarters of Italy's regions, according to a research paper released Thursday by the GIMBE Foundation, with the country as a whole seeing a net week-by-week rise in infections for the first time since April. The GIMBE Foundation, a health sector observatory, analyzed the official Ministry of Health data to show that for the week of July 22-28 there were 1,736 coronavirus infections, a 23-percent increase compared to the previous week's total of 1,408. The report said that infections were on the rise in 15 of Italy's 20 regions.

* New Zealand reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with the number of active cases in the country being 20, all in managed isolation facilities, according to the Ministry of Health. It has been 91 days since the last case of COVID-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source, according to the ministry.

* Germany reported 870 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, according to a tally from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. That brought the total number to 208,698 while 9,141 deaths have been recorded.

* Chinese ambassador in India Sun Weidong said on Thursday China's basic policy towards India remains unchanged, urging the two sides to work together to bring bilateral relations back on the track of sound and steady development. At a webinar on "China-India Relations: The Way Forward " held by the Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS) based in New Delhi, Sun noted that in the current era, the basic national conditions of China and India as the two largest developing neighbors remain unchanged.

* Republic of Korea's passenger car export tumbled in double figures in the second quarter amid an economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, customs office data showed Friday. The outbound shipment of locally-made sedans amounted to US$6.2 billion in the April-June quarter, down 40.6 percent from a year earlier, according to Korea Customs Service. It was faster than a 15.2 percent reduction in the January-March quarter.

* Russia and Kazakhstan on Thursday concluded a contract on creating the Baiterek launch compound for Soyuz-5 carrier rockets at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southwestern Kazakhstan, Russia's Roscosmos State Space Corporation announced.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of Ukraine, to be the head of Ukrainian delegation in Minsk Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine, the president's press service reported on Thursday.

* The European Central Bank has to maintain the "safety net" of its massive bond purchases at least until June 2021 to help underpin the economy, the ECB's President Christine Lagarde said on Friday, reaffirming the bank's policy stance.

* Hours after suggesting a possible delay in the 2020 US presidential election, US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he did not want to postpone the vote, but remained concerned that millions of mail-in ballots would cause problems.

* Ukraine began negotiations with an Iranian delegation on compensation for the plane of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), which was shot down near Tehran earlier this year, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Facebook on Thursday. Kuleba noted that the process would not be easy, but Ukraine will do everything to achieve maximum compensation for the relatives of the victims of the plane crash.

* Portugal's gross domestic product shrank 14.1% in the second quarter of 2020, marking the biggest contraction ever, as lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak hit key sectors of the economy. In a flash estimate, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) said that between April and June this year, the country's GDP plunged 16.5% compared to the same period in 2019, affected by collapsed private consumption, investment and exports.

* Belarus has strengthened the operational border protection and border control on its external borders, the country's Border Committee said on Thursday. Following the order of the country's leadership, the border guards have stepped up the operational control on the state border, including on the Belarusian-Russian border, the Committee said.

* Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday that European states have failed to salvage the country's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers from which the United States has already withdrawn.

* Hungary's economy will benefit from an investment boom in 2021 as a result of government programmes to help local companies, provided the country can prevent a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday. As of Thursday, Hungary had reported 4,484 coronavirus cases, with 596 deaths and 3,346 recoveries.

* The National Center for Disease Control of Libya on Thursday reported a record daily increase of 216 COVID-19 cases as the national tally topped 3,400. A total of 3,438 cases have so far been reported with 604 recoveries and 73 deaths, the center said.

* Morocco on Thursday reported 1,046 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest single-day increase so far, taking the total number of infections in the country to 23,259. The total number of recoveries from COVID-19 in Morocco increased to 17,511 after 186 new ones were added, while the death toll rose to 346 with 12 new fatalities, said Abdelkrim Meziane Belfkih, head of the department of epidemic diseases at the Ministry of Health, at a press briefing.

* The Iraqi military said two Katyusha rockets landed at the edge of Baghdad International Airport on Thursday without causing casualties. The attack took place in the evening when two rockets were fired from Radhwaniyah area southwest of the capital, the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement.