World News in Brief: December 22

Tuesday, 2020-12-22 16:31:38
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People visit a Christmas bazaar at Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain, Dec. 21, 2020. According to data released by the Spanish health authorities on Monday, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country had totaled 1,819,249. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced on Tuesday that six ministers would be replaced, including those in the portfolios of health, trade and tourism, in a significant cabinet reshuffle.

* The Indian government is ready to hold further talks with farmers protesting for the repeal of agricultural reform laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Tuesday.

* Russia's foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of Germany, Sweden and France on Tuesday over European Union sanctions imposed on Moscow over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the RIA news agency reported. The European Union has imposed sanctions on top Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin over Navalny's poisoning.

* The United Kingdom and France will set out a plan to restart freight after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed measures to reopen the French border, the BBC reported. The measures will come into effect from Wednesday, the BBC said, citing French Europe Minister Clement Beaune.

* BioNTech and US Drugmaker Pfizer will supply 12.5 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union by the end of the year, the German company said on Tuesday.

* The World Health Organization (WHO) will convene a meeting of members to discuss strategies to counter a new, more infectious coronavirus strain that emerged in Britain, its European chief said on Tuesday.

* The maker of one of India's leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates said on Tuesday its recruitment of volunteers for a late-stage trial of the shot was on track, following reports of a shortage of participants.

* Republic of Korea on Tuesday moved to shut down all ski resorts and winter tourist spots in a bid to stop the novel coronavirus spreading as a third wave of the pandemic proves much tougher to contain in the densely populated region around the capital city.

* Russia reported 28,776 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including 7,237 in Moscow, pushing the national tally to 2,906,503 since the pandemic began. Authorities also confirmed 561 deaths, taking the official death toll to 51,912.

* French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday that the French medical regulatory body was expected to give approval to COVID-19 vaccines by Dec. 26 after the European Medicines Agency approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. France is planning to start its vaccination programme on Sunday.

* Israel on Tuesday was on course for a fourth national election in two years after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main governing partner, Benny Gantz, failed to resolve a dispute over the budget. Parliament voted late on Monday against an attempt by both men to delay a deadline of midnight on Tuesday for approval of the fiscal package.

* The head of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) appealed to Germans on Tuesday to keep contact with other people to an absolute minimum and not to travel over Christmas to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

* Israel sent envoys to Morocco on Tuesday to meet its king and hammer out an upgrade of ties that was forged by the White House in a parting foreign-policy push by US President Donald Trump.

* Uzbekistan has closed its borders to residents of eight countries, including Britain, and to people who have recently visited them amid concerns about a new coronavirus strain and high numbers of new COVID-19 infections in those countries. The entry ban will be in effect until Jan. 10 and will affect Italy, Germany, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, and South Africa, the Central Asian nation's government said in a statement.