World News in Brief: August 8

Saturday, 2020-08-08 15:58:33
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An elementary school student wearing a face shield studies in the classroom during face to face learning in Soreang, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, Aug. 5, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Saturday (August 8) expressed optimism that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic through joint efforts. Duterte added that the pandemic is an opportunity for the Southeast Asian region to be more resilient.

* Chinese health authority said Saturday that it received reports of 31 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Friday, including 25 locally transmitted. As of Friday (August 7), the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland had reached 84,596, including 839 patients who were still being treated, with 42 in severe condition. Altogether 79,123 people had been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 had died of the disease on the mainland.

* The death toll from COVID-19 in the US state of California grew to 10,011 on Friday, according to the newest figure updated by the state's Department of Public Health. With a population of around 40 million, the country's most populous state saw its deaths from COVID-19 rise by 142 to reach 10,011 over the past 24 hours, the department said in its daily report. The number makes it the US state with the third-highest number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, followed by New York with more than 32,000 deaths, and New Jersey with nearly 16,000 deaths.

* Brazil has registered nearly 100,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus disease, the Ministry of Health reported on Friday. The ministry said that over the last 24 hours, 1,079 deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 99,572, and 50,230 new COVID-19 cases were registered, raising the total number of cases to 2,962,442. According to the World Health Organization, Brazil rose to the world's No.1 for deaths per day this week, though it remains second to the United States in both numbers of total cases and deaths caused by the disease.

* Mexico reported 6,717 new COVID-19 cases within the past 24 hours, taking the national count to 469,407 cases, the country's health ministry said on Friday. Meanwhile, 794 additional deaths were reported, taking the death toll to 51,311. A day earlier, the Latin American country recorded 6,590 new cases of COVID-19, with 819 fatalities.

* The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 126,885 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 4,226 new daily cases on Saturday. The DOH said that the number of recoveries further rose to 67,117 after it reported additional 287 patients have survived the disease. The death toll also increased to 2,209 after 41 more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, the DOH added.

* Indonesia reported 2,277 new coronavirus infections on Saturday and 65 more deaths, data from its health ministry website showed. This brings the country's total to 123,503 coronavirus infections and 5,658 deaths, the data showed.

* Total COVID-19 tally in India rose to 2,088,611 even as the number of deaths swelled to 42,518, said the latest data issued by the federal health ministry on Saturday. An increase of 61,537 new cases and 933 new deaths were recorded during the past 24 hours, the data showed. Saturday is the ninth consecutive day when a single-day spike of over 50,000 fresh cases has been recorded, and the second consecutive day when over 60,000 fresh cases are recorded in a single day.

* Russian authorities reported 5,212 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, pushing its national tally to 882,347, the fourth largest in the world. The official death toll rose to 14,854 after officials said 129 people had died across the country in the last 24 hours.

* France on Friday reported 2,288 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the biggest daily spike since the end of April. In the past week, France registered more than 9,330 new infections, bringing the country's total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 197,921, according to the health ministry. Since May 9 when the French government started a gradual de-confinement, some 787 clusters have been detected, of which 288 remained active. Over the past 24 hours, 21 clusters were identified.

* Republic of Korea reported 43 more cases of the COVID-19 as of 0:00 a.m. Saturday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 14,562. The daily caseload moved between 20 and 50 in recent days due to small cluster infections and imported cases. Of the new cases, 13 were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 2,544. One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 304. The total fatality rate stood at 2.09 percent.

* Poland has reported 809 new cases of COVID-19 since Thursday morning, a new daily high for the fifth time since last week, bringing the total to 50,324, according to the Health Ministry on Friday. In an effort to limit the spread of the disease, the Ministry said on Thursday that it would reintroduce restrictions in a select number of hotspot counties. Starting on Saturday, new restrictions will be in place in 19 counties, all in the south or southeast of the country, divided between so-called 'yellow' and 'red' zones, depending on the local severity of the spread.

* Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke announced on Friday a ten-point initiative including the requirement of face masks on all forms of public transport in Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city in the wake of an alarming rise of COVID-19 infections. The new initiatives came as the latest figures from the Statens Serum Institut on Friday revealed that Denmark's total COVID-19 infections have risen to 14,442, with 136 new cases -- the third day in a row when over 100 new confirmed cases were registered.

* New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday launched her re-election campaign promising a "laser-like" focus on boosting jobs and economic growth hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In her first campaign speech, Ardern pledged a NZD311 million (US$205.32 million) scheme aimed at getting 40,000 Kiwis back in work, if her party wins the Sept 19 polls.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,122 to 215,336, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by twelve to 9,195, the tally showed.

* The Czech Republic recorded its biggest daily rise in new coronavirus cases since April 3 due to local outbreaks in a number of regions, the health ministry reported on Saturday. The central European country of 10.7 million recorded 323 new cases on Friday, Health Ministry data showed, bringing the total number of cases detected to 18,060. Of those, 12,749 have recovered and 389 have died of COVID-19.

* Lebanon has confirmed a record high of 279 new COVID-19 cases across the country in the past 24 hours till Friday after two massive blasts here left hospitals overwhelmed. The number of COVID-19 infections has reached 5,951, while the death toll stood at 70, the Lebanese Health Ministry said. Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan expected a spike in COVID-19 cases in the next one to two weeks, saying it is necessary to tighten measures in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

* The United Nations is releasing US$6 million in immediate emergency funds for Beirut blast victims' hospital urgent care and fixing up homes for the vulnerable, a UN spokesman said on Friday. The money is being added to the US$9 million released earlier from the UN's Lebanese Humanitarian Fund, said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

* French President Emmanuel Macron will host a donor conference for Lebanon via video-link on Sunday, his office said, as countries mobilise to help rebuild Beirut after this week's massive blast. The conference, which will be co-chaired by the United Nations, will seek pledges from participants including US President Donald Trump. It is expected to decide how to distribute the aid so it benefits the people directly.

* Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday he would seek to mobilise Arab efforts to provide support to Lebanon after a massive explosion in the port of Beirut destroyed parts of the capital this week.

* The Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC) said Saturday 32.24 percent of eligible voters have cast their ballots after four days of early voting in the presidential elections. Early voting in the presidential elections is taking place from Aug. 4 to Aug. 8. A total of 5,767 polling places have been set up for the 2020 presidential election, including 44 abroad. The main voting day is Aug. 9.

* Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey has resumed energy exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Turkey and its NATO ally Greece have long been at odds over the energy resources in the region as Ankara has been opposing the drilling efforts of several countries there without its involvement.

* Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced on Friday that parts of the country will be put under restrictions again due to rising cases of COVID-19. The decision, which will take effect from midnight Friday and last for an initial period of two weeks, involves three counties in the country, namely Kildare, Offaly and Laois, all located in the central southern part of Ireland. To date, 26,470 people have contracted COVID-19 in Ireland and 1,772 of them have died from the virus, according to the department.

* Mexico received a donation of US$3 million from the United States to help fight the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 50,000 lives, a health official said on Friday. Mexican Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said the donation would be used for research purposes, supplies and tests.

* The Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in the Italian capital will start human clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the coronavirus in late August, the hospital and local authorities said on Friday. A call for 90 volunteers was issued on the institute's website on Friday, especially for adult volunteers aged 18 to 55 or 65 to 85.

* Brazilian billionaire Jorge Lemann's foundation and other business interests will fund the building of factory to produce the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca PLC. The Lemann Foundation said in a statement on Friday that the BRL100 million (US$18 million) factory will be donated to Brazil's premier biomedical research and development lab, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, or Fiocruz. It said the factory will be ready to produce 30 million doses of the vaccine per month as of the beginning of 2021.

* Canada will slap retaliatory tariffs on CAD3.6 billion (US$2.7 billion) worth of US aluminum products after the United States said it would impose punitive measures on Canadian aluminum imports, a senior official said on Friday. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference the countermeasures would be put in place by Sept. 16 to allow consultations with industry. The move marks the latest ruction in a choppy relationship between the neighbors and close allies since President Donald Trump took office in 2017.

* A flight alert was issued as Sinabung volcano in North Sumatra province in the eastern part of Indonesia erupted on Saturday, the National Volcanology Agency said. The 2,475-meter high volcano located in Karo district spewed a column of volcanic ash up to two km high. The ash tends to head for the east of the crater, the agency said in a statement.

* Search for the 47 people missing in India's southern state of Kerala after a massive landslide buried them has entered into the second straight day, local officials said Saturday. Rescuers have so far retrieved 19 bodies from the debris.

* Republic of Korea's death toll from heavy rain, which continued since last Saturday, rose to 21, with 11 missing and seven wounded as of 6 a.m. local time Saturday, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters. The torrential rain spread from the country's central region, including Seoul and its surrounding metropolitan area, to the southern region Friday.

* Temperatures have reached 36.4 degrees Celsius on Friday in Heathrow and Kew Gardens in London, making it the hottest August day in Britain since 2003, the Met Office said. Thousands of sun seekers flocked to the British coast on Friday as temperatures soared to the hottest August day in 17 years. By midday, the British coastguard said it had responded to dozens of calls and has urged the public to stay safe on the beach.