World News in Brief: August 5

Wednesday, 2020-08-05 14:58:18
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Novavax Inc said on Tuesday (August 4) its experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced high levels of antibodies against the novel coronavirus, according to initial data from a small, early-stage clinical trial, sending the company's shares up 10%. The company said it could start a large pivotal Phase III trial as soon as late September, and on a conference call added that it could produce 1 billion to 2 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.

* A border dispute between India and China - which turned deadly in June when troops of the two sides clashed - should not dominate relations between the nuclear-armed Asian powers, Chinese ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said on Tuesday in an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum.

* Lebanese President Michel Aoun said a state of emergency should be declared in Beirut for two weeks after a massive explosion in the capital on Tuesday, and called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday (August 5). Aoun, in remarks published on the Presidency Twitter account, said it was "unacceptable" that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was stored in a warehouse for six years without safety measures and vowed that those responsible would face the "harshest punishments".

* With six more deaths reported, the death toll in the flood in india's eastern Bihar state rose to 19 on Tuesday, as 6.36 million people were affected in 16 districts, according to a bulletin of the state disaster management authority.

* Chinese health authority said Wednesday that it received reports of 27 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Tuesday, including 22 locally-transmitted ones. No deaths related to the disease or suspected COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday, the National Health Commission said. As of Tuesday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland had reached 84,491 and 4,634 had died.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday reported 4,698,818 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 49,716 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 733 to 155,204.

* Brazil on Tuesday marked another grim milestone of the COVID-19 pandemic, registering more than 95,000 deaths from the disease after 1,154 patients died the previous day. The total death toll reached 95,819, while the number of people infected rose to 2,801,921 after tests detected 51,603 new infections in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, the country's Ministry of Health said that 1,970,767 people had recovered.

* Russia reported 5,204 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing its nationwide tally to 866,627, the fourth largest caseload in the world. Russia's coronavirus taskforce said 139 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 14,490.

* Switzerland is close to signing a deal to secure access for a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Moderna of the US, a government official has said. Switzerland will soon sign a reservation and supply deal, Pascal Strupler, the director of the Federal Office of Public Health, told the Swiss TV programme Club late on Tuesday. He declined to give financial details of any deal.

* Turkish health minister on Tuesday warned of an increase in daily new COVID-19 cases as the figure exceeded 1,000 for the first time in weeks. The country's confirmed cases increased by 1,083 and 18 more people died in the past 24 hours, taking the number of total cases to 234,934 and the death toll to 5,765, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Tuesday. He warned against the consequences of social contacts in the summer holiday and the recent Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

* An eighth minister in Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's Cabinet has tested positive for the new coronavirus, the government said on Tuesday, as Brazil fights the world's worst outbreak of the coronavirus outside the United States. The president and his wife, Michelle, also contracted the disease. Bolsonaro resumed official meetings and travel after a test showed he was no longer infected on July 25.

* Republic of Korea reported 33 more cases of COVID-19 as of 0:00 a.m. Wednesday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 14,456. One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 302. The total fatality rate stood at 2.09 percent.

* Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province's administration will limit the number of visitors to Komodo Island to 50,000 people per year as part of efforts to conserve the Komodo dragons, the world's largest living lizards which only occur in eastern Indonesia. According to government data, more than 2,800 Komodo dragons currently live in the Komodo National Park.

* Voting for the parliamentary election in Sri Lanka has started on Wednesday as polling booths were opened at 7:00 a.m. local time. The Elections Commission said 16.2 million people will be eligible to vote in the elections which will see some of the main political parties eyeing for a majority seat in the new parliament containing 225 members. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday said the new parliament will convene on Aug. 20.

* Ecuador will reopen 40 beaches to visitors five months after closing them to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Tourism Minister Rosi Prado said on Tuesday. Ecuador, one of the Latin American countries hit the hardest by the pandemic, has a total of 87,963 cases of COVID-19 infection and 5,808 deaths from the disease.

* A contingent of 200 US troops permanently based in Poland will form the core of the US military presence in the country, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced on Tuesday after meeting US Army Chief of Staff James McConville in Krakow in southern Poland. They discussed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, a legal framework for the stationing of US troops in Poland. The deal was politically agreed upon by the two countries on July 30 and will be signed soon, according to the Polish Defence Ministry.

* The European Union (EU)'s imports of electric and hybrid electric cars more than tripled between 2018 and 2019, showed the figures released Tuesday by Eurostat, the EU statistical office. The imports more than doubled between 2017 and 2018 (104 percent), said the Eurostat.

* The Turkish coast guard rescued a total of 74 illegal immigrants off Turkey's Aegean coast, local media reported on Wednesday. Turkish teams retrieved the migrants from two rubber boats near the Ayvalik district of Turkey's northwestern province of Balikesir, the Demiroren news agency said, without mentioning when the incident occurred. The migrants claimed that the Greek coast guard teams drove their boats back to the Turkish territorial waters, according to the agency.

* The number of confirmed weekly COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands has more than doubled from the previous week, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced on Tuesday. The new figures follow the trend in mid July, when the number of infections started to rise again after months of declining. A press conference on the current COVID-19 situation has been scheduled for Thursday.

* Peru’s Congress o n Tuesday rejected a vote of confidence for President Martín Vizcarra´s Cabinet chief, forcing yet another reshuffle of his top advisers in the middle of an economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano, the Cabinet chief, lost a confidence vote 54-37 after a marathon parliamentary session that began Monday morning. A new Cabinet must be appointed within 48 hours.

* The United Nations and partner organizations are assessing humanitarian needs for more than 10,000 displaced people fleeing their temporary shelters from severe flooding in several parts of Yemen, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday. Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said that while it is too early for casualty estimates, the destruction of homes, relief supplies and other property has been reported.

* Sudan on Tuesday announced its rejection of an Ethiopian proposal regarding the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), said Sudan's Irrigation and Water Resources Ministry in a statement. Sudan rejected the Ethiopian proposal as it stipulates that an agreement should only be about the first phase of the filling of the GERD, while it links the agreement with reaching a comprehensive treaty regarding the Blue Nile water, the statement said.