World News in Brief: August 2

Sunday, 2020-08-02 14:56:01
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Health workers prepare for free COVID-19 tests at a slum area in Manila, the Philippines on July 28, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposed PHP4.506 trillion (roughly US$91.65 billion) national budget for 2021, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Sunday (August 2). The Philippines continues to grapple with the rapid increase of coronavirus cases despite the strict lockdown measures imposed in mid-March. The country now has 98,232 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 2,039 deaths and 65,265 recoveries.

* China reported 49 cases of the new coronavirus in the mainland for Aug. 1, up from 45 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Sunday. As of the end of Saturday, mainland China had 84,385 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The COVID-19 death toll remained at 4,634.

* The US government has reached a deal with French drug maker Sanofi and British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline on the purchase of 100 million doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine as the country's COVID-19 cases have kept soaring and reached 4,620,419 as of Saturday (August 1) evening. The deal was made under the administration's Operation Warp Speed, which aims to accelerate the development process of COVID-19 vaccines.

* The death toll in Latin America from the novel coronavirus passed 200,000 on Saturday night, a Reuters tally showed, underlining the region's status as one of the global epicenters of the pandemic that is testing governments to the limit. Apart from the United States, Brazil and Mexico have racked up more fatalities from the virus than any other country, and together they account for around 70% of the regional death toll.

* Brazil recorded 45,392 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus as well as 1,088 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, its health ministry said on Saturday. Brazil has registered more than 2.7 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 93,563, according to ministry data.

* Mexico racked up a record number of new confirmed coronavirus infections on Saturday, registering more than 9,000 daily cases for the first time and passing the previous peak for the second day running, official data showed. Mexico's health ministry reported 9,556 new cases of coronavirus, surging past the record of 8,458 set on Friday. The ministry also logged 784 additional fatalities, bringing the total tally in the country to 434,193 cases and 47,472 deaths.

* Russia reported 5,427 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing its nationwide tally to 850,870, the fourth largest caseload in the world. Russia's coronavirus taskforce said 70 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll in the country of around 145 million people to 14,128.

* India's COVID-19 tally crossed the 1.7 million-mark on Sunday, reaching 1,750,723, announced the federal health ministry. Over 200,000 fresh cases have been detected across the country in past four days. Sunday is the fourth day in succession when over 50,000 fresh cases are added to COVID-19 tally. The ministry said 853 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 54,735 positive cases, were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 37,364 and total cases to 1,750,723.

* Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria declared a state of disaster on Sunday and imposed a nightly curfew for the capital Melbourne as part of its harshest movement restrictions to date to contain a resurgent COVID-19. On Sunday, Victoria reported 671 infections, one of its highest, and seven COVID-19 deaths. High numbers of community transmissions and cases of unknown origins have forced the new restrictions, which will be in place for six weeks, officials said.

* South Africa's COVID-19 cases have exceeded the half-a-million mark to reach 503,290, South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced Saturday. The country's death toll rose to 8,153 and 3,001,985 tests have been conducted, the minister said.

* Poland reported its highest number of new daily coronavirus cases since the global pandemic started for the third day in a row on Saturday, with 658 new infections, the Health Ministry said. Poland has now reported a total of 46,346 coronavirus cases and 1,721 deaths.

* Almost five months after the first COVID-19 cases was detected in Bolivia, the country is now facing a sustained increase in deaths due to community transmission, with an average of more than 60 deaths per day recorded over the last week, a Bolivian health official said Saturday. So far, Bolivia has reported 76,789 cases and 2,977 deaths from the disease.

* Colombia reported 10,673 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, taking its total to 306,181, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. So far, 10,330 people have died of the disease in the country, including 225 over the past 24 hours, the ministry said.

* The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), and long-term response efforts are needed given an anticipated lengthy duration of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday. The WHO Emergency Committee on COVID-19, held its fourth meeting on July 31, unanimously agreed that the outbreak still constitutes a PHEIC, and noted the importance of "sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts," said the statement.

* Britain is considering minting a coin to commemorate India's independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, amid growing interest in recognizing the contributions of people from the Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities. Gandhi, who was born in 1869, advocated for non-violence throughout his life and played a key role in India's struggle for independence. His birthday, Oct. 2, is observed as the International Day of Non-Violence.

* Isais, downgraded from a hurricane but still a powerful tropical storm, churned toward Florida, United States, on Sunday, set to brush the state's east coast with strong winds and potential coastal flooding. Florida's central and northern east coast could be hit by a storm surge - when a storm pushes normal tidal levels above normal - of as much as 4 feet (1.22 m), the National Hurricane Center said.

* Flights from Moscow to Geneva will resume from Aug. 15 for passengers with residence permits in Switzerland, the TASS news agency reported on Saturday, citing the Swiss embassy in Moscow. It said travellers from Russia will have to observe a 10-day quarantine on arrival, according to the news agency.

* A dispute between Moscow and Minsk over the detention of more than 30 men who Belarus accused of being Russian mercenaries deepened on Saturday, as the two sides contradicted each other about the group's plans.

* Kuwait has banned commercial flights to several countries it said it regards as high risk due to the spread of the coronavirus, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Saturday. The countries include India, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines, Lebanon and Sri Lanka - all countries with large populations in Kuwait. The list also includes China, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Iraq.

* Israel will resume international flights on August 16, the state's Minister of Transport announced on Saturday. As the number of patients in critical condition has not risen sharply, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently approved reopening the Israeli skies for international flights.

* The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Saturday that more than 200 illegal immigrants have been rescued off Libya's western coast in the past 24 hours. Libya has been experiencing insecurity and chaos since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, which makes the North African country a preferred point for thousands of illegal immigrants bound for Europe.