World News in Brief: January 3

Sunday, 2021-01-03 16:36:29
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Global COVID 19 cases exceed 84 million.
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More than 84 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,829,384 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

* India's drugs regulator on Sunday gave final approval for the emergency-use of two coronavirus vaccines, one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and the other by local company Bharat Biotech and a state-run institute. The decisions mark the first vaccine approvals for the world's second-most populous country, which after the United States, has recorded the most infections of the coronavirus disease.

* Russia is ready to conduct clinical trials in Ukraine of a COVID-19 vaccine combining its Sputnik V with a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca together with Oxford University, the head of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Saturday.

* Brazil recorded 15,827 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 314 deaths from COVID-19, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. Brazil has registered more than 7.7 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began 10 months ago, while the official death toll has risen to 195,725, according to ministry data.

* Thailand's government held off from ordering new nationwide business shutdowns on Sunday amid a new wave of coronavirus cases but empowered some provincial governors to set their own restrictions and pleaded with the public not to travel. Thailand, which had largely controlled the virus by mid-2020, saw a second wave of outbreaks beginning in December.

* Russia on Sunday reported an additional 24,150 new coronavirus cases from the last 24 hours, including 3,851 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 3,236,787. Authorities said an additional 504 people had died, taking Russia's official death toll to 58,506.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 10,315 to 1,765,666, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by 312 to 34,272.

* Tokyo reported 816 new daily coronavirus cases on Sunday, a day after governors from the capital and neighboring prefectures called on the Japanese government to announce a state of emergency to combat a recent surge in cases.

* Australia's most-populous state of New South Wales (NSW) reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, while neighbouring Victoria's tally increased by three, as new measures to combat the disease kicked in. The NSW outbreak started around mid-December in Sydney's Northern Beaches area, where a quarter of a million people are in strict lockdown until Jan. 9. Cases associated with the cluster now total 148.

* Mexico registered 6,359 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 344 additional fatalities on Saturday, bringing its total to 1,443,544 infections and 126,851 deaths, according to the health ministry's official count. The government says the real number of infected people and deaths is likely significantly higher than the confirmed figures.

* France on Saturday recorded 3,466 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, below the 19,348 reported a day earlier, data from the Health Ministry showed. The increase was within the government's target of 5,000 or less per day and brought the cumulative total to 2,643,239. The COVID-19 death toll was up by 157 to 64,921, the ministry said in a daily update.

* Italy reported 364 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday against 462 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections plunged to 11,831 from 22,211, with far less testing than normal carried out on New Year's day. Just 67,174 swab tests were carried out in the past day, the ministry said, down from a previous 157,524.

* The United Kingdom recorded a further 57,725 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the fifth day running that it has topped 50,000, and another 445 deaths, official data showed. Friday’s data had shown 53,285 new coronavirus infections and 613 deaths.

* Saudi Arabia said that entry to the kingdom by sea land and air will be resumed starting Sunday after a ban that lasted two weeks amid fears of a new coronavirus variant, the state news agency reported on Sunday.

* Increased socialising around Christmas - and not a new COVID-19 variant - has driven Ireland's rapid transformation from having the lowest infection rate in the European Union to the fastest rate of deterioration, health officials said.

* The daily number of deaths in Turkey due to coronavirus dipped to 202 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Saturday, bringing the total death toll to 21,295 on the second day of a four-day new year lockdown. The number of new COVID-19 cases fell to 11,180 over the same period from 12,203 a day earlier, bringing Turkey's total cases to 2,232,035 since the outbreak struck early last year.

* At least 70 civilians were killed in simultaneous attacks on two villages by suspected Islamist militants in Niger, near the border zone with Mali, security sources said on Saturday. About 49 villagers were killed and 17 people wounded in the village of Tchombangou, said one of the security sources, who requested anonymity. Niger's government was not immediately available to comment.

* Al Qaeda's North Africa wing has said it was responsible for the killing of three French soldiers in Mali, jihadist monitoring organisation SITE Intel reported on Saturday. The soldiers, who were taking part in France's Barkhane military operations in Mali against Islamic fighters, were killed on Monday when an improvised explosive device hit their armoured vehicle, the French Presidency said in a statement.