World News in Brief: December 28

Monday, 2020-12-28 17:22:30
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Passengers at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport, in Tangerang, Indonesia, on Dec 23, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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International visitors will be barred from entering Indonesia for a two-week period in a bid to stem the spread of a new potentially more contagious strain of the coronavirus, its foreign minister Retno Marsudi said on Monday. The new regulation, effective Jan. 1, comes days after Indonesia banned travelers from the Britain and tightened rules for those arriving from Europe and Australia to limit the spread of the new strain.

* Thailand confirmed 144 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the majority of which were locally transmitted infections, the public health ministry said in a statement. The new cases include 129 local infections and 15 imported from abroad, the statement said. Thailand has confirmed a total of 6,285 coronavirus cases and 60 deaths since its first case in late January.

* Mainland China reported 21 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 27, down from 22 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Monday. The National Health Commission, in a statement, said 15 of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. Six local transmission were all in Liaoning province.

* Hamilton Mourão, Brazil's vice president, has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said on Sunday, when the country registered 344 new COVID-19 deaths. Brazil now has nearly 7.5 million confirmed cases, and a total of 191,139 deaths from the virus since the outbreak began, according to the health ministry figures.

*Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on Monday asked his ministers to remain ready to implement measures to prevent the further spread of coronavirus infections, after daily case numbers hit a string of record highs in recent days.

* Britain plans a staggered return for secondary school pupils after the Christmas holidays, but this is under review in the face of a spread in a new variant of the coronavirus, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said on Monday.

* Pfizer has postponed the delivery of a new batch of the coronavirus vaccine to Spain by one day to Tuesday due to a logistics hurdle, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Monday. The company suffered an incident related to the control of temperature in the process of loading and sending out the vaccines, the minister said, adding the incident is now solved.

* Sydney, one of the world's first major cities to welcome each New Year with a public countdown featuring a fireworks display over its well-known Opera House, has banned large gatherings that night amid an outbreak of the coronavirus.

* Mexico expects to wrap up its first-dose COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers by early January, before moving to inoculate elderly people in the month's second half, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday. The second day of vaccinations for medical staff saw the health ministry record 6,217 new confirmed infections and 400 more deaths, taking Mexico's tally to 1,383,434 cases and 122,426 deaths.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 10,976 to 1,651,834, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by 348 to 30,126, the tally showed.

* The French health ministry reported 8,822 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Sunday, sharply up from Saturday's 3,093 as the country, in unison with most of the EU, started its vaccination programme. France's cumulative total of cases now stands at 2,559,686, the fifth highest in the world. The death toll was up by 173, at 62,746.

* Panama will extend lockdowns in two provinces, including the capital, from Jan. 4 - 14 in an effort to contain a jump in coronavirus cases in the heavily populated areas, the health minister said on Sunday. With 231,357 registered COVID-19 cases and 3,840 deaths, Panama is the Central American nation that has accumulated the highest number of infections.

* Republic of Korea reported the first variant of coronavirus linked to the rapid rise in infections in Britain in three people who had entered the ROK from London on Dec. 22, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Monday.

* International tourism to Mexico could jump as much 65% next year if the coronavirus crisis improves, and even a worst-case scenario would still bring more travelers than in 2020, Mexico's tourism ministry said on Sunday.

* Saudi Arabia interior ministry on Monday extended a ban on entry to the kingdom by air, land and sea for another week amid new coronavirus variant fears, the state news agency reported. The ministry said it is evaluating the current situation while allowing non-citizens to leave the kingdom and allowing entry for exceptional cases.

* South Africa's total coronavirus infections since the first case in March crossed a million on Sunday, its Health Ministry said, just days after a new faster spreading variant was confirmed to be present in the country. The grim milestone comes nine days after the country, the worst hit in Africa, reported 900,000 cases. The country had taken two weeks to reach 900,000 from the 800,000 seen early in December.

* Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry said on Monday that one serviceman had been killed in an attack in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

* Sudan will deploy "large numbers" of troops to South Darfur state after the killing of 15 people in tribal violence recently, the state news agency cited the state governor as saying on Sunday. The state is part of the restive Darfur region, in the west of Sudan, which suffered a bitter conflict that erupted in 2003.

* Heavy snowfall has killed 12 climbers in mountains north of Iran's capital, Tehran, while rough waters capsized a ship in the Gulf and left its crew missing, state media reported on Sunday. Heavy snow and high winds in several parts of Iran in the past few days have closed many roads and disrupted transport.