World News in Brief: December 19

Saturday, 2020-12-19 14:51:18
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A man leaves a supermarket with a shopping cart full of daily necessities in Mexico City, Mexico, on Dec. 18, 2020. Mexican authorities said on Friday that they would re-impose lockdown measures in Mexico City and the State of Mexico amid surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The COVAX alliance, which aims to secure fair access to vaccines for poor countries, said it now had agreements in place for nearly 2 billion doses.

* Canada will donate COVID-19 vaccines to other countries if it receives more doses than necessary, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

* United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for ensuring that migrants, irrespective of their legal status, are included in every country's pandemic response, particularly in health and vaccination programming.

* India's has enough capacity to produce COVID-19 vaccines for its needs and also export to other countries that need its help, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, after the government had said it could soon start voluntary inoculations.

* Brazil's government may consider new economic measures to address the pandemic, depending on how it evolves, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said.

* General Practitioners in Britain have been given new guidance allowing them to use Pfizer Inc's extra vaccine doses "at their discretion."

* US Vice President Mike Pence received his vaccine live on television, seeking to shore up public support for vaccinations as US regulators were on the cusp of approving a second vaccine for emergency use.

* China's National Health Commission said Saturday that it received reports of 17 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Friday, including three domestically transmitted cases and 14 imported ones. Of the domestically transmitted cases, two were reported in Beijing and one in Liaoning, the commission said in its daily report. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland reached 86,806 by Friday, including 307 patients still receiving treatment.

* The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday authorized American drugmaker Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States. It is the second COVID-19 vaccine that has received FDA's emergency use authorization (EUA) in the country, following the first one developed by American drugmaker Pfizer in partnership with German company BioNTech.

* Brazil's COVID-19 death toll rose to 185,650 on Friday after 823 more patients died from the disease in the previous 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said. In the same period, tests detected 52,544 cases of infection, raising the total caseload to 7,162,978 since the start of the outbreak in Brazil on Feb. 26.

* Argentina on Friday reported 7,002 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its national tally to 1,531,374, said the Ministry of Health. The ministry also said that 138 more patients died from the disease, bringing the nationwide death toll to 41,672.

* Several European countries headed for stricter restrictions and new lockdowns as cases surged, while South Africa identified a new variant of the coronavirus, days after Britain said it had also found a new variant of the virus boosting cases.

* Japan on Friday confirmed 2,827 new daily COVID-19 cases, bringing the nation's cumulative total of people infected to 193,755, not including those related to a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier in the year. The national death toll, meanwhile, has now reached a total of 2,839 people.

* Republic of Korea reported 1,053 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Friday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 48,570. The daily caseload stayed above 1,000 for four straight days, hovering above 100 for 42 days since Nov. 8 due to small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.

* France's death toll topped 60,000 and Sweden introduced its toughest measures yet in the face of soaring infections, while Switzerland headed for a second lockdown.

* Austria will go into its third lockdown after Christmas and lift it earlier for people who get tested.

* Mexico City and the neighboring State of Mexico are suspending nonessential activities due to a surge of infections and death that is quickly saturating hospitals.

* In Republic of Korea, hundreds cannot get into hospital as surging infections overload the health system, officials and media said.

* Portugal on Friday reported 4,336 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 366,952, said the country's Directorate-General for Health. Meanwhile, 75 more COVID-19 deaths were recorded, taking the country's death toll to 5,977, while the national total recoveries rose to 290,690.

* The Netherlands reported on Friday 12,028 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 664,456, according to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. The country also reported 85 new deaths from the virus, raising the total death toll to 10,405.

* Germany's Minister of Health Jens Spahn Friday announced a detailed plan for the country's COVID-19 vaccination campaign, saying its first goal is to protect the most vulnerable. All citizens over 80 years of age as well as residents and staff of nursing homes would be among the first to get vaccinated, Spahn said at a press conference.

* Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said Friday that vaccinations against COVID-19 will begin in Spain on Dec. 27. The first vaccinations will be using the BioNTech Pfizer vaccine, with the first doses arriving in Spain on Dec. 26.

* Italians will have to spend much of the Christmas and New Year holiday in a nationwide "red zone" in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced in a nationally televised press conference on Friday evening.

* Russia successfully launched its Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket on Friday, delivering 36 satellites from the U.K.-based OneWeb company into space. The rocket blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome in the country's Far East at 3:26 p.m. Moscow time (1226 GMT), the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos said in a statement.

* South Africa's total reported cases surpassed 900,000, just a fortnight after it reported crossing 800,000, signaling a rapid rise in infections in the country battling a second wave.

* Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday received a delegation of the political representatives of the Afghan Taliban in Islamabad, expressing concern over the high level of violence and called for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire.

* Peru confirmed 2,242 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, taking its total caseload to 993,760 as of 10 p.m. Thursday local time (0300 GMT Friday), according to the country's health ministry. The ministry also reported 68 more deaths from the virus, raising the total death toll to 36,969.